Skate culture and street art were deeply intertwined in the 1970s. Skateboard art was created as a new medium for artists. Skateboarding was a fringe subculture in its early days. Being a skater was enough for one to stand out from the rest.
What is Skateboard Art?
Many skaters were inspired by the sport's growing popularity to personalize their boards. Skaters took inspiration from graffiti artists and designed their boards to be extensions of themselves.
Since then, skate culture has been a fusion of fine art and street art. Keith Haring and Shepard Fairey have recreated some of their most iconic works on skateboards. Yoshitomo Nara is another blue chip artist who's ventured into the space of skateboard art.
Skatedeck Art - Keith Haring
Pre-existing drawings and paintings by household names such as Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat are printed on the decks, which is the wooden part of the board where your feet will be planted. The eight holes that are used to set the skateboard wheels make each deck technically possible, but it's best not todo so.
These objects should be hung on the wall like a painting or print. A Warhol poster of Campbell's soup unframed costs $16.99; a deck with the exact same image will cost $199.99. How did skateboards become such a valuable piece of equipment in a sport that is known for injuries?
Skatedeck Art - Hajime Sorayama
In 2000, Supreme's "Artists Series" launched its first artist-designed skateboard deck. This was a departure from the norm of adorning skateboards with branding and individuality since the 1970s. Ryan McGinness's deck was the first to be designed by an artist outside of the skating scene.
Supreme Color Formula Guide was the title of this edition, made use of the deck’s unique shape to create a huge Pantone color scheme that combines elements of Pop Art with Minimalism. This edition was a departure from current trends in skateboard deck artwork at the time.
Skatedeck Art - Shepard Fairey
Artist-designed skateboard decks have remained a subculture sport, while gaining a status as a luxury product. The Skateroom is an artist-designed manufacturer of skateboards, strictly focusing on the skateboard art. They offer two types: single skateboards or triptychs.
Triptychs are a form of evolution where artwork is printed on multiple decks. The final arrangement refers to the devotional paintings from the Renaissance and acts as an altarpiece. According to the company most triptychs can be found on the wall while only a third of solos are used for skating.
Skatedeck Art - Yayoi Kusama
Even the most unskippable skate decks retain some of their original countercultural appeal. Artworks that may otherwise seem conceptual, stuffy, or cold in a blue-chip gallery or auction house might look accessible and cool when presented in the form of equipment.
Skate culture has its own meaning. Skateboard art has really become a collectible in the space of fine art collecting.