Who wouldn't want to be seen on these beautifully designed decks? We gather together 10 incredible skateboard graphics for your inspiration and delight.
Skateboard graphics provide a canvas for companies to produce artwork that connects with skateboarders the world over. Each design symbolises the company ethos and the personality of the artist, as well as reflecting the skateboarding world of that time. Choosing just 10 awesome examples from the thousands out there is going to be tough, so in no particular order…
01. Extended Sun
It doesn’t get more legit than this. Jim Phillips, creator of the iconic Screaming Hand, fashioned this image of the Sun God for Santa Cruz pro Jason Jessee around 1988. Phillips' comic book-esque style of vibrant colours and fine detail defined the company's style and influenced countless other companies and designers.
Back in 2005 when the late wildlife illustrator Charley Harper was still with us, Habitat licensed some of his unique and beautiful geometric illustrations. This, the second series produced, features the artwork he created in Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve in Costa Rica. Many skateboard illustrators (including Don Pendleton, the man behind the next design on our list) cite his work as an influence.
03. Ivory series
Don Pendleton's heavy strokes and cubist style are instantly recognisable to most skateboarders. His work as art director of Alien Workshop (1998-2005) was so distinctive that some people found his switch to Element (2005-2010) confusing. You can view his whole body of work online here.
04. The Illuminati series
Richard 'French' Sayer's exceptional illustrations, inspired by heavy metal and medieval etchings, first appeared on the UK’s Heroin skateboards, but can now be seen on boards from more than 10 different companies worldwide. His work also adorns clothing, cars, magazines, adverts and even radiators. These darkly beautiful designs are some of his most recent for Creature.
05. Weed and Cobras
There is a fine tradition of self-depreciating humour in skateboarding. Here Roger Skateboards' boss and illustrator Michael Sieben pokes fun at the tradition of skateboard graphics to involve weed and cool looking animals. He’s also currently being ripped off by someone.
06. Sun and Moon
Mike O'Shea's characteristic humour and cartoon style is designed to give people "a little warm feeling in their bellies". This representation of some more celestial bodies is one of his older designs for British company The Harmony. Mike’s work can also be seen in magazines, shop walls, T-shirts, and the iPad app Little Digits.
07. Life is too short
Sometimes all you need for an amazing board design is some good typography and a good slogan. Finnish company Perus' tag 'Life is too short for longboarding' echoes the sentiment of (probably) every skateboarder’s attitude to their larger, ungainly cousin.
08. Exposure series
Established by the legendary street king Ricky Oyola, Traffic Skateboards constantly produce great graphics. This series uses photographer and filmmaker Jon Bocksell's double exposures of New York City to create rich layered designs.
09. Angel series
Andrew Groves' art deco style normally uses block colours to illustrate the weird and wonderful on Foundation skateboards. Here's something a little different though: laser etched graphics specially created for deodorant brand Lynx.
Another classic board for an eminent skateboarder. Andy Takakjian’s '80s neon design for the original pro board for Mark Gonzales on Vision came out in 1985. It stayed in production till 1989 - a rarity for a pro board - and set the style for all of Vision’s lurid output. Takakjian says the design came about because he was given no art direction and needed something that would fill the space between the text.
Words: George Rowe
George Rowe is producer & studio manager at ThoughtDen, an award-winning specialist digital studio based in Bristol. He also dabbles in web design, and writes and produces pantomimes. Follow him on Twitter.
Have we missed your favourite skateboard graphic? Tell us about it in the comments below...