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  • SMC 12:58 am on October 24, 2018 Permalink | Reply
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    Skateboard Artist Profile: Lauren Ramer 

    New Jersey designer and illustrator Lauren Ramer’s skateboards give us a warm, nostalgic feeling as her graphics remind us of late 80s and early 90s deck designs. It was a time when skateboard graphics, much like the people who rode them, fit in very few scenes outside of its own culture. Lauren may have a contemporary take on deck design, but her connection to the genesis of modern day skateboard graphics, and her delightfully repulsive designs, made us very curious about her first exposure to skateboarding as well as her creative process.

    What was your introduction to skateboarding?

    Growing up I had a lot of guy friends. I would hang out with all the skateboarders and so eagerly want to skate, but, unfortunately, lacked any and all talent for skating. Although I sucked at it, I would still try and I would fall… a lot, especially when I turned 18 and got my first longboard. I hit a huge rock, face-planted in front of my house, and was covered in band-aids for a few days. It was around this age I realized that maybe I would be a part of the community by using my artistic side to design skateboard graphics instead.

    During those early days in the skateboarding community, were you influenced at all by skateboard graphics? Was it even something you noticed at the time or do you ever think back to those designs?

    When it came to skateboarding the graphics were all I ever saw or noticed. When it came to brand, speed, style, etc. I didn’t really know any of it, but the bright and crazy graphics are what always stood out to me.

    Your designs have a classic skateboard graphic feel, combining gross or dark subjects with a playful sense of humor. Was using skateboards as a canvas a natural progression for you or something that was always in your sights as a designer?

    Designing skateboards felt like a very natural progression for my art style, especially since the subject matter I like to draw doesn’t fit into a lot of industries.

    In the beginning, what drew you towards art or was it just something you always did because it came naturally? What were some of your earliest creations and inspirations?

    I have been an artist for as long as I can remember, but I personally feel like I didn’t start finding my style and artistic voice until college. Over the years I tried to experiment with different mediums to find what I like, but I really like pencil and ink drawings followed by digital coloring. It just feels natural! Also, one theme that has really stuck with me through my art development is horror. Through high school a lot of my art revolved around horror, creepiness, and just overall weirdness. I’ve always had a love for horror movies and creepy characters so it felt natural I keep that theme in my work.

    My designs always seem to take a cute, light turn and I honestly have no idea why. Whenever I begin a project with the initial thought of “Oh yeah! I’m going to make this gross, disgusting illustration.” it always ends up becoming cute and charming somehow. Also I think my use of bright colors also adds to this.

    Who is the artist that inspired you the most when exploring this side of your creativity?

    I was always very inspired by 90s cartoons like Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network. The weird characters and funky colors always got me so excited. One artist who really inspires me is Chris Piascik. One of my professors at college introduced us to him, and ever since then it made me feel confident that drawing weird and unusual creatures is something people actually want to see!

    When creating graphics for a skateboard do you start with the idea that it’s going to look good on a deck or does that realization come after the graphic is completed?

    For my skateboards I always take into account the strange long dimensions. I usually start with a small rough sketch of a skateboard shape, then I create my illustrations to fit nicely inside the weird shape. I like to think of things that are tall or long, for instance right now I am working on a really tall and gross cheeseburger deck.

    What’s your process for creating a design as a skateboard graphic?

    After I have have drawn a little doodle of a design inside a skateboard shape I redraw it at a slightly larger scale on Bristol paper, usually 11 x 14 [inches] or something. This is where I usually take a lot of time to draw in all the details. When I get to the inking phase with pens I don’t like to have to think about anything, so I take my time in pencil mode until I’ve got the drawing to where I like it.

    After inking, I scan it into my computer and I color it in Photoshop with my Wacom Cintiq. Adding bright colors is my favorite part. Also, I’m so indecisive about colors. I usually go through like 6 different palette options before I find the one I like.

    Describe your work space and the conditions in which you enjoy designing.

    Currently I have my own small studio in the second bedroom of my house in which I use to create art. It’s amazing to have my own space considering over the years I never had an art studio. Before this I was living in a small 500 square foot house where my “studio” was just a corner of my kitchen. Now it’s great. I can listen to music or watch It’s Always Sunny… and lock myself in my studio for hours on end. It’s surrounded with all types of art and weird decorations so it definitely makes it feel like home.

    Do you figuratively or literally ever go outside of your comfort zone when creating? 

    I feel like I haven’t really gone out of my comfort zone in a while, especially with my illustration, but I think that’s because I tend to dabble in quite a few different hobbies and crafts, so I don’t get bored of one thing. For example, I painted a mural in my house a few weeks ago and the style, medium is very different than my illustration. I tend to find other outlets to express creatively so I don’t ever feel a need to leave my comfort zone.

    However, I will mention that I am currently doing Inktober this year and, although it’s not totally out of my element, color is my safe space, so doing strictly black and white illustrations is a little scary for me!

    What’s the mural you painted in your house?

    I feel like most people would expect me to say “Oh I painted a giant monster with boogers” since that is my illustration style, but I actually just painted a really simple mountain scene. I like my house to feel homey and serene. I keep the weirdness to my art studio.

    Do you only create digitally or is there another medium you enjoy exploring?

    When it comes to my illustration and my style, digital is what I love. However, every now and then I like picking up all sorts of mediums and tools for creating. Sometimes I like sewing and knitting, other times I even like acrylic or oil painting. I think I just prefer digital illustration nowadays since there is no mess and mistakes are easier to fix.

    Where does the name Freak Head come from? Why was that choice made for your skate brand name?

    When I was trying to think of a name for my boards I wanted something fun and strange. Not sure how those two words came together, but it felt right!

    What would be a dream project within the skateboard industry? What about a dream project in general?

    For me a dream project isn’t necessarily an individual illustration, but more of a dream to launch my brand into a full on skateboard and apparel company. It’s definitely one of my long term goals, but there’s much work to be done!

    What advice do you have for other artists when tackling the concept of putting their designs on skateboards? What general advice do you have for artists getting started?

    Just do it! Skateboards are a unique medium in which really anything goes for skateboard graphics. Any gross, pretty, silly, or simple graphic can make an awesome board design. So just start doodling, painting, or whatever it is you do and throw it on a board.

    Lauren’s Freak Head skateboards can be seen and purchased at BoardPusher.com/shop/FreakHead, find more of her artwork at LaurenRamer.com, follow her on Instagram and most social channels @laurenramer, and, if you’re fortunate enough to be in Philadelphia this weekend, find her booth at the Philly Punk Rock Flea Market this Saturday, October 27th.

  • SMC 11:53 pm on April 3, 2018 Permalink | Reply
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    Skateboard Artist Profile: Matt Verges 

    Matt Verges has been creating art out here in Colorado for over a decade. We first took notice when he began participating in some of our design contests, but when his graphics started rolling through our presses he sent us clamoring to get photos of his decks so that we could share his creations with our followers. When he hit us up to let us know about an art show where he would be displaying his BoardPusher.com custom skateboards we decided it was time to get to know one of the local artists who inspires us.
    Let’s start off by telling us where it all began. How did you get into skateboarding and art respectively?

    You might actually be able to trace my interest in both back to the Ninja Turtles. It was probably 1986 when I first noticed the comics and toys showing up in the local Wal-Mart. I poured over those comics, copied the art, drew my own. These were the old black and whites by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. I must have just gotten caught up with the rad 90s culture of the time, and gone on from there. I remember discovering “The Search for Animal Chin” around this time too. As I got older, I got into the punk and hardcore scene, and just kind of found my niche doing flyers and album covers.
    That’s funny that you mention TMNT because they’re such a staple around here with our skateboarders and designers often designing parody and spoof graphics around the ninja turtles. Did that culture turn you into an avid skateboarder?

    Yeah, I probably got my first skateboard when I was around 12, and could do the basic tricks by 14. I would sand down and paint my own decks. I was never really good at skating, but I also never gave it up either. For me it was more about the anti-authoritarian lifestyle, and cruising around. And cruising is about all I do these days. I mostly ride longboard now, and half the time, I’ve got a three-year old riding on the nose along with me.
    When you come up with an idea for a design is it something that you know is going to become a skateboard graphic or is it something you see in that shape after the design is finished?

    Most times, the composition will dictate the size and shape as we go, and later on I’ll adapt for skate deck size if I think it fits the theme. That’s one of the nice things about working digitally, the ability to adapt for various sizes and applications. What’s really great is when a piece of art works well with a wood grain background, and I can let that natural texture show through.

    Was punk and hardcore something you found through skateboarding ala skate video soundtracks, etc.?

    I first got into extreme music through mutant monster metal bands like GWAR and White Zombie. They had such an intense aesthetic too, which was really appealing to the young me. It was probably through them that I stumbled upon bands like Anthrax and Suicidal Tendencies that made me realize that skating and music could work together. I discovered punk rock shortly after, and I loved all the Epitaph and Hellcat bands that were in every skate video back then. I always had friends that were in bands, and skating was always something that was just on the periphery of that. I think really it was that base of anti-authoritarianism that brought everyone together.
    Where do you create most of your work? Is there a home studio or office…?

    I have an office at home that I spend a lot of time in. I have a desk to draw at, and a flat file full of screen prints. On top of that is where I do all my shipping and packaging. Working from home allows me the time to hang out with my daughter more, which I am incredibly privileged and thankful for.

    What’s your process when designing a skateboard graphic? Does it start with a sketch or is it all done digitally?

    I transitioned to digital around 2009, with a period of doing some sketching and inking by hand, and then coloring digitally. These days I’m 100% digital, but I still draw and paint everything by hand on a drawing tablet. I have that background in making art on paper, and I’m always trying to stick to that style even if it is digitally.
    Your graphics alternate between the real and surreal and often blend the two. Is there a conscious decision to focus on one more than the other when you begin or does one overtake the other organically?

    I’m often inspired by animals and nature, especially when they behave in unimaginable ways. Sometimes, I’m depicting these behaviors and events literally, and sometimes it’s seen through the lens of folklore.

    Yeah, we noticed your art appears to have a deep respect for animals and nature while also merging it with a post-apocalyptic feel. Is this a theme you like to revisit?

    Definitely. I like to think that most of my work exists in the same world. The colored orbs floating in the sky are the common visual arch. Humans do exist in this world, and have left their mark in various ways. I try to allow nature to be the subject of the piece however, in the role of creator after the destruction that has ensued at the hands of humans.
    You also deal a lot with death in your work, but in vivid colors. Is there an intent to bring beauty and light to that ominous inevitability?

    Again with the cyclical creation/destruction theme. The end of a life sustains the lives of others, and in turn, those lives end and sustain others and so on. Not just in a physical, nourishment sense, but in a spiritual, wisdom sense as well. And there is a beauty in that. I like to think that my art is a celebration of that, and the interconnectedness of it all, in both life and death. Some people see only negativity in death, but I see such hopefulness. Having that ancient collective experience tied up in our molecules surely will guide us to become more than we are, right?

    Who are some of your favorite skateboard design artists, and what are some of your favorite skateboard graphics?

    Pushead is the greatest! Aaron Horkey is an all time favorite too.
    Speaking of Pushead, you also work with a lot of bands on projects, is music an influence on your work? Do you find inspiration in the sound or even a title or does the design come first before deciding what band/artist it might fit?

    When I work for bands, I definitely use their music as inspiration. I like to think of album covers as sort of a collaboration. Sometimes a literal image presents itself from the music, and sometimes its more of a feeling I get when listening. But more or less, the goal is to build a world together, where the sounds and visuals can coexist in harmony.

    What’s the best advice you can offer for staying creative and productive?

    Find something that inspires you and try to make that thing part your daily ritual. Coffee, travel, nature documentaries, movies are some of mine. Use your skills everyday, and hone your craft. Try not to think too much about other artists style or process. Find your own way, and make it yours. Build your own world and stories. Try not to focus too much on social media and likes or comments. Get your art out into the real world, interact with people face to face, and try to keep a positive spin on everything.
    You have a showing coming up at the Kanon Collective in Denver on April 6th where you’re displaying a number of your skateboard graphics, what’s most enjoyable about being a part of an art show?

    I love getting to hang out with other artists and art enthusiasts. I love hearing other people’s personal interpretations of my art, especially when they’re so different than my own intentions.
    Beyond your Denver show, are there any other upcoming projects or appearances we all should be looking out for?

    Over the Spring/Summer of 2018, I’ll be at Denver Independent Comic-Con (DINK), and Denver Comic-Con. I’m always in-person at Kanon Art Collective for the First Friday Art Walk in the Santa Fe Art District. I’m an Artist in Residence at Black Sky Brewery, where my art is permanently on the wall alongside a host of rotating artists. Come say hi!

    Discover more about Matt by visiting matt-verges.com.

  • SMC 9:40 pm on December 12, 2016 Permalink | Reply
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    Featured Deck of the Week: “Launch” by Axiom Design 


    For this week’s BoardPusher.com Featured Deck we have “Launch”, an Erik Nitsche inspired graphic created by Axiom Design. You can keep up with this artist by following him on Instagram @axiom_design_.

    Take what inspires you and make it a custom skateboard graphic on BoardPusher.com.

  • SMC 10:31 pm on November 28, 2016 Permalink | Reply
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    Featured Deck & Grip of the Week: “I Dream of Pinchy” by Donough O’Malley 


    This week we have a BoardPusher.com Featured Deck and custom griptape. The Simpsons inspired “I Dream of Pinchy” board and griptape graphics were created by Donough O’Malley as a gift for his girlfriend.  You can check out more designs from this award winning artist at pencilrobot.net.

    Create your own top and bottom graphic for your loved one this holiday season with custom skateboards and griptape at BoardPusher.com.

  • SMC 7:01 pm on October 13, 2016 Permalink | Reply
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    And the Pro Model Design Contest Winner is… 



    We have chosen Roshi’s deck graphic as the BoardPusher.com Create Your Own Pro Model Skateboard Design Contest Winner. He designed this deck under his KTYD brand for his buddy, skateboarder Dale Hawkins. We are sending Roshi three decks with his winning graphic to do whatever he wants with them, though we suspect he might share one with Dale. Check out a video of Dale skating here and find more of Roshi’s artwork here or follow him on Instagram @dirtyoldroshi.

    We want to thank everyone who entered. It looks like you had a lot of fun creating your own pro model on BoardPusher.com and we certainly enjoyed looking through all of your submissions. It’s always a difficult task to choose just one. Keep an eye out for the next design contest coming soon.

  • SMC 9:01 pm on March 17, 2016 Permalink | Reply
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    Skateboard Artist Profile: Mark Riddick 


    The name Mark Riddick is synonymous with “death metal art” (seriously. Google it). He has been a staple in the genre and industry for a couple of decades now, and when we started seeing his art come through our presses a few years ago we were in awe of his gruesome and intricate designs.  Since underground music and skateboarding have long been intertwined, we navigated The River Styx and snuck some barbiturates into treats for Cerberus (i.e. traded emails) for an opportunity to get Mark’s veteran take on the marriage of the 2 subcultures as well as get some insight into his creative process towards his skateboard graphics.


    Do you create a specific setting when you sit down to draw?

    It’s really quite difficult to create a setting these days. I’m very preoccupied by familial obligations so I essentially draw anywhere I can. Lately I’ve been using my dining room table as a place to catch up on freelance illustration work. I also make a point to go to my local Starbucks to take 2-3 hours to draw as soon as they open on Sunday mornings. This gives me a chunk of time without distractions to focus on my work. I have a home studio, but I really only use it to do emails and related administrative stuff that goes into being an artist.

    We were kind of hoping that there would be a dark dungeon with several candles burning while haunting chamber music and somber chants floated through the room, but I guess Starbucks has its own aura of evil.

    Well, my studio space is decorated by a vast collection of framed original illustrations by some of my favorite artists and inspirations. I’m also surrounded by numerous cassettes, vinyls, reference books, and replica skulls.


    How large do you make the original file/canvas?

    All of my original work is created on 8.5” x 11” letter size printer paper, nothing extravagant. I try to keep things as simple and old school as possible. It’s a way for me to keep things true to the underground way of doing things. That raw do-it-yourself approach is a key component to my working process.

    How do you go about transferring an 8.5” x11” letter size drawing into a 9” x 33” skateboard graphic?

    All of my illustrations are scanned in at a high resolution (600dpi) which helps in maintaining the quality of the reproduction when my work is transferred to a skateboard deck canvas.


    Is there a particular reason as to why your designs are strictly black and white?

    My strict use of black and white is a throwback to the early 90s, when I started illustrating for underground heavy metal bands and fanzines. Everything was done on a photocopier: fanzines, demo covers, fliers, etc., so it was important to keep things black and white because color copying was a new and expensive technology at the time. I’ve held true to the black and white approach. It’s essentially become a part of my branding as an artist.

    What were some of the ‘zines that you contributed to? Were there any other ‘zines you checked out regularly?

    I contributed to several underground fanzines in the past, mostly short-run photocopied fanzines that most people have probably never heard of. The only newstand ‘zines that I contributed to included publications like Pit Magazine, Inner Source, World of Fandom, etc. I’ve also had my work showcased in a few of the well-known glossy metal music ‘zines like Zero Tolerance, Terrorizer, Metal Hammer, Legacy, etc. At this point in time I don’t often read magazines unless they’re underground or feature some bands I’m into. Some of the fanzines I’ve read recently include Reborn from Ashes, Headsplit, Soulgrinder, Bells of Acheron, Compilation of Death, Crypts of Eternity, etc.

    What initially drew you to the gruesome style of art?

    My passion and interest in extreme music: death metal, thrash metal, and black metal have driven me in this direction. I’ve been illustrating for these genres for 25 years and the subject matter tends to be on the darker and less conventional side of life.


    A lot of musical discoveries come from the world of skateboarding be it skate video parts, skate mag record review sections, or that one skater friend who is deeply connected to the underground subculture. Do you also see a connection of death metal and death metal art to skateboarding and what was your introduction to skateboarding? What was your introduction to death metal?

    Yes, I believe that heavy metal art and skateboard art have some parallels. They both borrow from extreme subject matters and visuals at times. Both are more or less subversive cultures in and of themselves so there is a shared similarity there. My introduction to skateboarding was in my very early teens, however I never exceled in this area and my skateboarding days were relatively short-lived. I did however admire the artwork on skateboard decks for a very long time and can remember thinking to myself, “I want to do that someday,” and now I am thanks to BoardPusher. I’ve been listening to heavy metal since 1986, but didn’t start getting into death metal around 1989 or 1990. I was introduced to the underground death metal scene in 1991 and I began tape trading and collecting demo tapes and 7” Eps from signed and unsigned bands from all corners of the world.

    What materials do you use to create your art?

    I use Sharpies and Sakura brand Micron pens and brushes to execute my illustrations. Sakura makes some amazing, precise, and quality products!

    You don’t have to say skateboards, but what’s your favorite medium to create for; album art, shirts, canvas, etc.?

    The bulk of my work is for T-Shirt prints so this would have to be my preferred product type. I’ve been producing more album covers as of late, however my art has been reproduced on other less conventional products like sweaters, shoes, backpacks, wallets, belt buckles etc. in the past. Skateboards are obviously a great medium too because it allows for a larger canvas area and can have a dual use as a deck or as wall art.


    What are some shirts and album covers we would have seen your artwork on?

    My illustrations have appeared on merchandise for bands like Arsis, Fleshgod Apocalypse, Nunslaughter, Morbid Angel, Grave, Exodus, Hypocrisy, Rotting Christ, Maruta, Autopsy, Dethklok, Kult of Azazel, Horrendous, and tons of others. Too many to mention.

    What influence, if any, does being a twin have on your art?

    My twinhood doesn’t have too much of a bearing on my artwork however, my twin brother is the only critic whose opinion I truly take to heart and value the most. My twin brother was kind enough to write the introduction to my next art book, Morbid Visions, out later this year, wherein he offers tons of insight into my working process, background, and vision as an artist.

    What’s the most recent challenge/project you’ve taken on?

    I’ve been drowning in requests as of late so it’s been difficult to keep up, especially since I have a full-time day job and obligations as a husband and parent, not to mention various releases from three different bands I play in coming out this year. One of my toughest clients has been this year, however I can’t mention it yet due to non-disclosure agreements, it’s extremely mainstream stuff. Some of the bands on my production schedule right now include Endseeker, Xternity, Whipstriker, Deranged, Hel, Heads for the Dead, Echelon, Well of Woe, Deathecho, Epitaph, Summer Breeze Open Air Festival, and some other things I can’t announce yet.

    We often tell new artists to just keep creating, share their artwork with their friends and get their opinions, and, like with most artistic endeavors, just keep moving to find your own voice and style and keep progressing. What advice do you offer artists who look up to your work?

    The most important advice I can give is to be passionate about your craft, stay motivated, be responsible and reasonable with your clients, be consistent in your branding and style, and take advantage of networking opportunities when applicable. Thank you for your time and support. Keep up the great work with BoardPusher, your service is an excellent outlet for all creative-types!

    Visit Mark’s website at riddickart.com and check out his skateboard decks at BoardPusher.com/riddickart.