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My Skateboard Week: Top 5 Skateboard Graphics

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This week on the Blank Slate blog we’re pop shuviting straight into another theme week–this time in honour of the brand-new My Skateboard Life by Ed Syder.  To celebrate the book’s hot-off-the-press release we’ve let Ed take over the blog for a series of posts on the sport that defined his adolescence. Today’s subject: Ed’s top 5 skateboard graphics.

Powell Peralta, Mike McGill by V. Courtlandt Johnson (1984)

Image: LA Taco

Seeing this classic deck graphic in Clive Mitchell’s Cycles in Truro circa 1987 was pretty life-changing to say the least. Like the first time you hear Rock and Roll, it’s a moment when the world literally opens up to you and things previously hidden are suddenly brought sharply into focus. Or something. Just like every other little boy, I’d been devouring anything with monsters, vampires or skeletons on it from an early age. But this image brought all of these together and married it to an emerging subculture that I couldn’t resist. VCJ’s graphics for Powell are simply untouchable, no one draws a skull quite as perfect as he does. It’s really as simple as that.


Blind, Mark Gonzales – ‘Colored People’ by Mark Gonzales (1989)


I had this graphic on a T-Shirt which I wore for at least 15 years until it fell apart in the washing machine. Carefree images like this made the slick skate graphics of the mid eighties suddenly seem out of date and stale. I’m not going to bore you with any talk about how amazing a human The Gonz is, everyone already knows it. I could’ve easily chosen any of his other boards, but this one has a special blood stained, threadbare place in my heart.


Mike Vallely – ‘Snake’ by Marc McKee (1991)


Between 1991 and 1994, McKee was just KILLING it. If you’re an illustrator then you need to look this guy up. Just unbelievably good. I’ve chosen this one as I can remember drawing and painting this snake on a million school text books, in the margins of exam papers, you name it. I was the “flaming building guy” at school for a while, achieving a tiny taste of fame amongst my peers simply by copying this graphic and passing it off as my own work. It’s funny how little has changed in the last twenty years.


Santa Cruz, Jeff Grosso – ‘Demon’ by Jim Phillips (1987)

Image: Disposable

I mean this is really silly, I love everything that Jim Phillips has done. So amazingly talented. But I’ll choose this one for the sake of having a top 5. This kid that lived up the street from me had this board and I’d drool over it sat outside my house for ages, instead of actually skating. I’ve stared at his work for at least a million hours and his stuff just pops out of the page (or screen). I love the colours (dude) and that mixture of bright neons with super sharp blacks is pretty much all I care about.


Blind, Danny Way – ‘O.C. Bladerunners’ by Marc McKee (1990)


I really loved this one and had a skate magazine with it in which I’d leave open on that page next to whatever schoolwork I was supposed to be doing. The characters are the skate team’s riders (including Jason ‘My Name Is Earl’ Lee), and I remember a big (probably self-created) mystery around who was who in the graphic, which was endlessly debated in skate shops back then.
Ed’s long-awaited memoir of misspent youth is currently thrashing its way into comic shops across the UK now and is also available (with international shipping) via our online store. Grab one today! For more on skate graphics Ed highly recommends picking up any book by Sean Cliver or heading over to  Marc McKee’s archive of skateboard graphics. Come back Wednesday for My Skateboard Life: The Original Soundtrack.

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