September 9, 2007

Disposable Graphics

Skateboard graphics come in all sorts of styles and cover a broad range of topics – everything from social commentary on politics and race relations to juvenile cartoons, attractive women, and drug references. I’ve always loved these graphics because of the broad spectrum of subject matter that is compressed onto a single skateboard deck. Their influence has been so great that I even named this website after art produced by the legendary skateboarder Mark Gonzales. So you can imagine my delight when I got my hands on a new book on the subject by Sean Cliver titled Disposable. I was even more excited once I started reading the book to find out that he spends much of the 239 pages discussing the creative process behind the graphics.

Disposable covers the history of skateboarding from the early pioneers like Powell Peralta and Santa Cruz in the 80’s and the further evolution of the industry, going into my personal favorites like Alien Workshop, Chocolate, and Enjoi. It was fascinating to read about the internal approach that different companies took to creating graphics and the life cycle of a graphic as it went from simple doodle to laminated deck. Former skateboard artist John Keester, and current video game developer, sums up it up best:

A graphic on a skateboard goes the full cycle from creation to destruction, In fact it’s created specifically for someone to go grind it back into the elements it was made from. And I think that’s the beauty of it, because the art is simply symbolic of the spirit and soul of the movement it represents.”

Some of the artists that the book includes are Barry McGee, Thomas Campbell, Tommy Guerrero, all of whom have gone on to have incredibly influential careers. Their diverse body of work is everywhere from art exhibitions at the MOMA to surf films to music CDs. There are so many beautiful decks featured within Disposable, I thought I’d give you a sneak peak at a few of my favorites:

Help support this site and pick up Disposable: A History of Skateboard Art from Amazon.