Skateboard Deck: The Coolest Vehicle for Art

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Since the beginning of skateboarding, art has always been an integral part of it. Blending artistry and sport through deck design and all sorts of different media, skateboarding has collaborated with high-profile artist and even launched successful careers of a number of them.

Having great connections to their boards, skaters have always viewed artwork on them as a very important aspect. Since the skater culture is built around creative free-thinking individuals, skaters often decorate and customize these boards themselves by adding stickers or painting them in order to reflect their personality and individuality.

Skateboard art is therefore a very powerful creative force, and a number of core skateboard brands started featuring contemporary artists on their decks. One of the brands that has a long tradition in skateboarding and is famous for their unique boards and amazing artist collaborations is Supreme. Their cultural influence has been evident for the past 20 years, bridging the gap between contemporary art, skateboarding and street culture.

George Condo X Supreme Deck.
• George Condo x Supreme, 2010 © Supreme
Jeff Koons X Supreme Deck.
• Jeff Koons x Supreme, 2006 © Supreme
Raymond Pettibon X Supreme Deck.
• Raymond Pettibon x Supreme, 2014 © Supreme

With its unique identity and attitude, but also the selectivity and exclusivity as its  integral part, Supreme has built a colossal public aura and grown quickly into the embodiment of the skate culture, always defining it and setting up new standards of quality and aesthetics. A company based in these alternative sports but bound by art, Supreme has infiltrated the fine art world in many ways. The label has always pushed the limits by collaborating with esoteric and left-field creatives. Embracing the outsider and the individual, their brand and its products soon became usable forms of creative expression, with their skateboards becoming canvases for unique artworks. The early ‘90s skate culture has been a major influence on them, and it has marked everything they do. Their customized skateboards have become much more than just skateboards, evolving into pieces of highly recognized artworks reflecting trends in contemporary art and culture.

Louis Vuitton X Supreme Kit.
• Louis Vuitton x Supreme, 2017 © Supreme
Damien Hirst X Supreme Decks.
• Damien Hirst x Supreme, 2009 © Supreme

The Last Supper.
• "The Last Supper" by Leonardo Da Vinci x Supreme, 2002 © Supreme

With an impressive list of artist collaborations and fresh and bold ideas, more companies besides Supreme, have built a reputation above the average skate company and have positioned their brand as an important binding factor between the skateboard culture and contemporary art. Making skate deck graphics that encourages a visit to a gallery, these companies continue to inspire and educate the youth. The graphical aesthetics on top of decks, have attracted the attention of a new kind of collectors.

Last August, the MoMA Design Store announced its latest skateboard collaboration with legendary Japanese artist, Yayoi Kusama. Ahead of the predicted release in October, the duo has now dropped the capsule online featuring three open editions: "Black Dots", "Red Dots" and a "Yellow Trees" triptych. All skate decks are made of premium Canadian maple wood with each motif staying true to Kusama’s hand-painted versions of her famous polka dot and pumpkin visuals.

Yayoi Kusama X MoMA Design Store.
• "Black Dots" by Yayoi Kusama x MoMA Design Store, 2018 ©
Yayoi Kusama X MoMA Design Store.
• "Yellow Trees" by Yayoi Kusama x MoMA Design Store, 2018 ©

Another company, the Skateroom, is a social entrepreneurship whose main purpose is to help empower youth using art and skateboarding. Their vision is to offer art editions at an affordable price and make art available to the greater public. They collaborate with contemporary artists to create editions of artwork on the medium of skateboards and these limited editions are intended to be hung on a wall, just like a painting. Their latest collaboration is with the estate of Andy Warhol. They released collectible skate decks featuring the legendary pop artist’s Banana screenprint originally created in 1966. The decks arrive as an edition of 500 and feature “peel and see” stickers. Another notable collab they did, was with Artestar to produce a new series of skateboards featuring the artwork of Keith Haring, carrying some of the artist’s iconic drawings.

After Andy Warhol's (1928-1987) Banana.
• After Andy Warhol's (1928-1987) Banana, c. 1966 x The Skateroom, 2018
© The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.
Keith Haring's
• Keith Haring's "Man and Medusa" x The Skateroom, 2018
© Keith Haring Foundation, Licensed by Artestar, New York

To conclude, since the early 1970s, when skate culture and street art became deeply intertwined, a new medium for artists was born: the skate deck. In earlier days skateboarding may was a subculture on the fringe, so simply being a skater was enough to set oneself apart from the crowd. However, nowadays we can see that the growing popularity of the sport pushed many creative skaters to find ways to individualize their boards. In the decades since, fine art, street art and skate culture have become inseparable, with renowned artists like Christopher Wool, Paul McCarthy, Ryan McGuinness, Shepard Fairey, Jeff Koons, Yayoi Kusama and Yoshitomo Nara reproducing some of their most famous works on the decks of skateboards, or make entire new artworks on them.

As of now, Sotheby’s will even offer a set of artist-designed Supreme skateboards estimated to sell for $1.2 million. The passionate Supreme fan Ryan Fuller made it his mission to collect all 248 artist-designed skateboard decks put out by the brand over the past two decades, and now he’s putting them on the auction block at Sotheby’s. The collection will be sold as a single lot in an online-only sale. Noah Wunsch, who is Sotheby’s vice president of global digital and market strategy, explained the set’s importance thusly in a press release: "The intermingling narratives of skate culture, art, New York City, and the evolution of Supreme’s brand is amazing to behold. We are thrilled to bring Ryan’s singular collection to auction for the first time."

Jean-Michel Basquiat x Artware Editions.
• Jean-Michel Basquiat, In Italian Skatedecks x Artware Editions, 2017
Marilyn Minter x Supreme.
• Marilyn Minter x Supreme, 2008 © Sotheby’s
Ai Weiwei x The Skateroom.
• Ai Weiwei, Crabs and Fuck (Separate Limited Editions) x The Skateroom, 2010-2011 © Sold by Alpha 137 Gallery
Andy Warhol x The Skateroom.
• Andy Warhol, Guns (Limited Edition) x The Skateroom, 2015 © Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Sold by Alpha 137 Gallery

At The Art Dose you can find exclusive skateboard art from our collaboration with the artist Ian Philip. He is a french painter and plastic artist born in 1986, self-taught while growing up in a familiar environment that incited him to create. In a combination of contemporary design and interior decoration, his work led him to spent ten years on Cote d'azur, where his artworks was demanded by wealthy yacht owners. Today, he focuses on a more personal practice. You can find his skateboard sculptures in Greece, exclusively at The Art Dose, online or from our store location in Glyfada.

Also, we can make custom sculptures with the iconic shape of the deck, in collaboration with the greek sculptor Stathis Alexopoulos. His work is widely recognised by the shapes of hubs, which are formed by blending belts and stripes, encircled and embraced eternally. For more information about custom orders, contact us.

Ian Philip x Skateboards.
• Wooden Skateboards by Ian Philip
Stathis Alexopoulos x Skateboards.
• Resin Skateboards by Stathis Alexopoulos

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This article has been edited by The Art Dose.


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