Home Art Magazine Skateboard Deck: The 21st Century Coolest Canvas

In the late 1970s, skateboard culture and street art became tightly intertwined, creating a new medium for artists as well as an individualization tool for skateboarders.

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Identity, originality and attitude are the keywords when talking about skateboard art. Since the very beginning of the skateboard era, art has always been an integral part of the experience. In the blooming West Coast, where the trend began, artists have blended different media and deck designs resulting in original customized unique boards. 

In the last decade, the trend has surged and been fully underway. The culture built upon creative thinking makes it important for skateboarders to have a connection with their board. They consider the “art part” fundamental to their skater-identity and to bring to light the outsider and the individual in them. Skateboarders tend to be selective and exclusive with the choice of designs, yet some artists and fashion brands managed to pinpoint the style and build creative collaborations through time. Skateboarders often decorate their decks on their own using paint and stickers, and have been doing so since the 70s.

The double-purpose creative expression endured to its major game player-role in the beginning of the 90s and putting in evidence the language the medium speaks. Of course, the style speaks a different language to a teenager or young adult compared to a 50 or 65-year-old, yet the customised skateboards became more than just skateboards, developing into valuable artworks that reflect contemporary art and culture.

Giuseppe Veneziano. L'Ultimo Selfie - Skateboard, 2022. Courtesy of Bonobolabo.

Skateboard art can have two types of editions; solo skateboards and tryptichs. As seen in the Paul Insect “Skatedeck”, tryptichs are either an evolution of skateboard art where a single artwork is printed on three decks, or, where three similar designs are adjacent to one another. Most tryptichs are destined to the wall rather than to be used as sports equipment. In both cases, these can increase the value of the skateboard by 125%, meaning that if a print costs 17$ it will cost 200$ when on a skateboard deck.

The most famous streetwear brand that came across the trend and rocked it is Supreme. The brand has defined the art setting new ideals of quality and aesthetics. Supreme managed to combine fashion, art and skate culture by collaborating with unusual creatives such as Takashi Murakami, Damien Hirst and Kaws. After supreme, artist designed skate decks have constantly overlapped their roots as a countercultural sport and their growing status as a luxury product.

Not only fashion brands and big artist names, but also design stores and museums. Skateboard Art was deeply appreciated and welcomed in the MoMa Design store with Yayoi Kusama’s famous pumpkin polka dots, too.

 

Giuseppe Veneziano. Collater Effect, 2022. Courtesy of Bonobolabo

It can be said that skateboard art creates a bond between fine art, street art, and skate culture. Artists are often given a clean slate to experiment tools and mediums on skate decks. Holding onto their oblong shape, skateboards in the form of art may feel conceptual or shallow within a blue-chip gallery or auction house, still might result into something within everyone’s reach and cool!

Cover image: Paul Insect and Giuseppe Veneziano. Courtesy of Baldwin Projects and Bonobolabo

Written by: Sveva Berto

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