Graphic Design and Skateboards

Skateboarding has been a part of youth culture since its birth in the late fifties, yet its exposure in the media has always been very limited. Yet while the worlds eyes' looked away skateboarding has developed into a huge sport. The boards changed from simple designs to the modern high tech boards we know of today. And while the development of the actual boards was changing, so was the redundant bottom side of the board, which has received more and more attention over the years. It has changed from a simple brand logo to a vehicle for political comment, humor and some of the best pieces of graphic art of the last few years. Seriously, you just don't know it yet.
Some of the biggest skateboard manufactures are: A-team, Birdhouse, Blind, Powell, Toy Machine and World Industries. Throughout this book I will use these companies boards and designers as my subject matter. They are often at the forefront of development in both graphic design and distribution and are the most popular brands in the world of Skateboards.
The veryfirst designs were simple logo designs from the manufacturer and were often removed after purchase. This example is a '76 Powell board and shows how the manufacturers disregarded the bottom of the deck, and how boring the original designs were. But since then board manufactures have employed designers that produce designs that push boundaries. Nowadays issues such as censorship, the social decline of America and guns in the home have all been raised through the medium of the skateboard.
But what is the process of making a skateboard, well as with many things it begins with artists. But as Powell artist John Keester points out, the artist is always given a key brief:
"Sometimes the rider (the professional skater who will have a personal board designed in his name -ed) knows exactly what they want and it is more of an execution of an idea. Other times the rider has no idea what the hell the…


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