On the ZINE takeover this week is our Creative Head Paul Shipley -aka, Shippers - with a deep delve into skateboarding culture.
"It’s something I got into when I was 11 and eventually packed in at 25..."
My knees just couldn't hack it.
Many years on, I still have a huge interest in it. It has no doubt guided me into pursuing graphic design when I had to find a solid career after finishing school.
In pre-internet ’80s and ’90s, skateboarding was a hidden culture. You had to go and find it. No Pinterest, no blogs, no mobile phones or Google maps.
You were out of the house constantly, travelling up and down the country making a ton of new friends along the way.
On Sundays, the shops were closed and the skaters came out. The supermarket car parks and city centres were now skateparks.
You'd undoubtedly ruin countless shoes from your board's rough grip tape, but we had shoe goo glue to fix the holes in the sides.
The dream was to get a shop sponsor to supply a new pair of shoes every month, and fresh boards to replace the ones you snapped in half.
It was easy to recognise those who were part of this hidden culture event when they weren’t stood on a skateboard, from the shoes they wore and the logos emblazoned across their clothes.
"It wasn’t recognised as a sport like it is today"
Skateboarding used to be massively frowned upon by the establishment.
But it was, and still is, a rich culture that influences self-expression, creativity, music, art, design, fashion, film-making and photography.
It's a massive creative outlet for so many people, especially from a young age.
Nowadays it’s everywhere.
Thrasher logos on supermodels, Supreme brand collabs and new product drops every other week.
Supreme started out as a small skater run store in NYC. Now they're a global mega brand.
It was probably around '88 after being gifted second-hand boards from mates that I finally persuaded my mum to buy me my own set up from the local shop.
The ceiling of the store was lined with boards, all with amazing graphics at the bottom.
UK magazines would have mail order ads in them from the UK’s main distribution stores, where you could buy all the latest gear from the U.S.
These monthly and bi-monthly magazines and zines would give you all the insight and news; from the latest tricks, new riders going pro, new trends in America and the rest of the world, to the rise of street skateboarding.
Skateboarding was starting to evolve from the huge wooden halfpipes and concrete pool skating of the ’70s. And most importantly, the U.K. scene was developing and evolving too.
UK riders were being recognised as serious talent moving abroad to ride for American brands.
The magazines would try and outdo each other in order to shift sales. New magazines would come out with different content. The kind that launched the careers of future TV stars moving into MTV Jackass-style culture.
The graphic design of Skateboarding covered so many aspects; the art direction of photography and editorial design of the magazines, the colour palettes, super vibrant, typographically pure creativity and no bounds, no restrictions, no "crusty-ness" always experimental.
In 1993, a few new companies formed born from riders being frustrated with the industry and the businesses and corporations running the show.
Skateboarders were being screwed over. Business owners were profiting purely for themselves, and this saw the rise and creation of skater-owned companies.
Change was coming
New companies like GIRL Skateboards and Chocolate Skateboards launched, both started by Spike Jonze - the now famous Oscar-winning director, and a couple of other skaters and ex-business partners from previous companies.
His input had a huge influence in the way they looked and behaved, from the board graphics to the videos they put out, to the brand collaborations.
He also directed music videos for Sonic Youth and the Beastie Boys during this period.
The art direction and creativity at GIRL was prolific. The in-house 'Art Dump' collective, as it was coined, covered the whole portfolio of brands, creating the graphics and communications for team boards, clothes, and videos.
The turnaround of board graphics was relentless. Always looking to reinvent themselves, whether lifting popular culture or just pure art pieces.
The in-house team has seen a range of artists jump ships over the years. But Evan Hecox has been a constant force throughout their 20-year company history.
If you’re already familiar with his work, you’ll recognise a lot of this.
If not, I’d definitely recommend looking at it.
The processes he goes through, the fine art approach mixed with bold graphic forms, often abstract landscapes and cityscapes.
He’s definitely one of my favourite artists and is a huge design inspiration.
Check out his work here.
Maybe its a generation thing as I think only a few of us older ones at LOVE may recognise some of these brands and images. We recognise the impact they've had on inspiring graphic design, photography, art, illustration or just pure fashion.
Skateboarding has changed in many ways over the past 30 years. And the majority of changes have impacted it in a good way, almost to the point where it's accepted as a sport. Just look at the Olympics.
I’d love to go back thirty years ago to buy half the art that was on offer then. As with most things, it’s impossible to get half of this kind of stuff anymore.
Those that know it, will know what I mean.