“How to make a skateboard” is painted in loopy cursive across the doorway. Diagrammed steps include: find an old ski (“you can find them sometimes at thrift stores or yard sales”), find an old roller skate, gather some tools, assemble.
“You can decorate your board any way you want but you get extra points if you do your own design instead of just stickers,” says a note beside the final product.
This witty diagram by skate punk forefather Tim Kerr and more skate-infused art is currently on display at the Orchard Skateshop Extension Gallery until November 10. The show that started at the House of Vans in Brooklyn under the moniker Supply & Demand, synthesizes the work of skate art legends Chris Yormick, Rich Jacobs, Russ Pope, Jay Howell and Tim Kerr.
“Skateboarding used to be really packed full of a bunch of creative people,” says California-based painter, Russ Pope. “There weren’t really any rules or any set guidelines about how to run skateboard companies or make skateboard graphics. People who were involved with skateboarding were writing the scripts on their own and they were creative people by nature. So a lot of those people wound up becoming, or always were, artists.”
Pope has been skating since he was five (“I loved rolling and turning. Still do.”) But, like the other artists involved, for the larger part of his life he’s been making art to package and sell with the sport. He is the founder of Creature Skateboards and Scarecrow Skateboards, and has done a series of wheels, tees and hats for Bones Wheels. Right now he’s making small batches of one-off hand painted skateboards under the name, The Transportation Unit Project, which he’ll sell for about $85 a pop including shipping.
Being a skateboarder, Pope says, is a lot like being an artist, which is why a lot of people are both. You start to see the world in a different way.
“[Skateboarders] are looking at everything everyone else walks by on a daily basis with different, creative eyes,” Pope says. “They’re like ‘Hey, you could skate the if…’ or ‘That could be a cool skate spot if…’ It’s just a different outlook on life.”
For Pope, this means taking heightened notice of the humans and exchanges in his day to day. Most of his paintings, figurative stuff with moody faces, are inspired by people he sees– on the subway or walking down the street.
“Most of it is just social commentary, it’s just people that I run into on a daily basis and that I record in my sketchbook, weather it’s a silly conversation or something outrageous somebody says or something I’ve seen, I make an illustration to describe a general feel or a mood.”
Someone once said to him in conversation “No, art is cool, I like art now.” Now it’s a painting.
But Pope’s work is just a piece of the puzzle. There’s Rich Jacobs’ wall collage of painted patterns on wood, book pages and faces, Chris Yormick’s mixed media collages, Tim Kerr’s pop art inspired paintings and Jay Howell’s pen and ink animations full of skinny legged monsters and hilarious scenarios.
The ultimate goal: to reunite the skaters with the art.
Photos courtesy of Eileen Clynes and Orchard Skateshop
[Supply & Demand. Through Thu 11.10.11. Orchard Skateshop Extension Gallery. Mon–Sat: Noon–9pm/Sun: Noon–7pm. 156 Harvard Ave., Allston. orchardshop.com.]