Walk into any skate shop today and the first thing you’ll notice is the board wall, nothing will ever represent skate culture better than that. All the colors, names and art styles show the mixing pot that is skateboarding. There is no right or wrong way to design the bottom of a deck and you get to choose what you ride. Of course the way it looks on the bottom doesn’t matter, it’s gonna get scratched up and boards break, right? Try telling that to Jim Phillips (top right) whose artwork has transcended into fashion and pop culture. Or to VCJ whos artwork for Powell Peralta has been selling out of skate shops since the 80’s. It sells because people identify with art, and that is why the “picture” on the bottom does matter. You can call it marketing if you want but I believe it goes deeper than that.
Slapping a name on something with some “cool font” is marketing, and you definitely find examples of that in some companies. But that doesn’t explain Shmoo. The weird character made famous by Krooked Skateboards creator and artist Mark Gonzales (top middle) aka Gonz. Gonz has one of the least marketable, but most recognizable and loved art styles in skateboarding. He’s also as legendary as a skateboarder can get. Anything gonz touches, no matter how derpy, is gold and that’s because of who he is and what his art means to skateboarding. In a world where skateboarding is gavitating closer to the realm of “sports” with the olympics incoming and major shoe and fashion brands grabbing a slice, it's nice to remind ourselves to not take skating so serious. Skateboarding itself is an art form, it’s a lifestyle and not a sport. Even if that sounds corny it’s the truth, when a kid comes into a shop and sees the wall they are met with a decision, anything on that wall could be their board, their style. There's no right or wrong way to ride a skateboard and the art reflects that. So in some way all this doesn’t matter, because at the end of the day no one will judge you on your style. You dont earn any points for looking cool, following the latest fad or riding the latest Quasi Skateboards ripoff. (They did it first don’t @ me, bottom right) You don’t earn points for anything. that is the point of skateboarding no one cares.
But we all do care about one thing, and that’s culture. At the center of skate culture is freedom and individuality. Explaining these things is hard to do in words, luckily the art speaks for itself, look at Henry Jones (bottom left) whose pieces depict skate culture better than anyone could describe.The reason we love this shit so much we wear it on our clothes and skin is because we are representing something synonymous with the freedom we experience as a skateboarders. Skateboarding gives you a feeling of being both unique and accepted. You can’t find that in very many communities, and we owe it to ourselves for forming this culture and to the artists who give their visions a platform to represent it.