Controversy, innovation, humour, brutality, politics, personality, artistry, guts, gore – you name it, it’s been on the bottom of a skateboard, more often than not beautifully executed. And in a moment when skateboarding appears to be approaching the zenith of its popularity – when off-duty models and pop stars are wearing Thrasher garms, when the swoosh and the three stripes (along with other big-money sports brands) are pumping shitloads of money into the scene, when the fucking olympic games are attempting to carve out a spot for skateboarding in Tokyo 2020- it’s reassuring to cling to the things in skateboarding which will (hopefully) never change. Though, like everything, quality ebbs and flows, there has been a tonne of stellar skateboarding graphics throughout the years that demonstrate, concretely, the creativity that resides at the heart of the culture, and the vivid imaginations of those who associate themselves with the scene.
A while back we put together a little list of some of our favourite individual graphics (which you can peep here), but this time around we wanted to highlight some of our favourite series of graphics – From the arty to the abhorrent, the crude to the cool, the insane to the unconventional. Feast your eyes on a few hand-picked series, past and present, that typify the originality and inimitable attitude of skateboarders and wider skateboarding culture. Enjoy!
Street Series – Chocolate – Evan Hecox
We’re big fans of both Evan Hecox and Chocolate Skateboards here at THE6BY6- in fact we did a little piece on Evan and his association with Chocolate a while back. The OG skate company has been collaborating with Hecox on and off for over 20 years now; to the point where he has essentially cultivated the brands colourful and distinctive aesthetic. Urban environments, organic line work, bold geometry and a palpable vitality are the hallmarks of both Evan’s pieces and much of the Chocolate artwork. This particular 6-board street series might just be one of the earliest examples of decks in a series fitting together to create a bigger scene, but regardless, the boards look sick both individually and as a part of a bigger picture. We’re particular fans of the way Hecox subtly works the name of the pro into the scene, as well as the colour palette he uses for each deck, and how, when placed together, the boards really compliment each other.
Strip Club Series – Baker – Artist Unknown
Whilst we couldn’t track down the name of the artist (or artists) who dreamt up this awesome Baker series, it’s readily apparent that whoever did it managed to translate the company’s fun-loving, hijinks orientated philosophy onto the bottom of their boards. The sheer carnage of the strip club reflects the unabashed personalities of the team and is especially reminiscent of edits like the Summer Tour video with Deathwish. Though the OG’s of the team – the likes of Reynolds, Ellington, Greco and Lenoce – have definitely mellowed out with age, this series serves as a lively snapshot of a Baker family that constantly pushes the boundaries of skateboarding, and has a good time doing it.
Fucked Up Blind Kids – Blind – Marc Mckee
What’s not to love about Marc Mckee’s iconic ‘Fucked Up Blind Kids’ series? Riffing off the Garbage Pail Kids Trading Cards that were popular back in the 80’s (which itself was a reaction to the annoyingly kitsch Cabbage Patch Kids), Mckee christened Jordan Ritcher, Henry Sanchez, Rudy Johnson and Guy Mariano with some fucked up names and contentious identities by giving them their own controversial ‘trading cards’. Though the refined eye might lambast the decks for their adolescent humour, that is precisely why this series is so awesome- so fuck your refined eye! After all the skateboard, for all it gives us, is essentially a glorified kids toy. Not only does this series remind us not to take it all so seriously, the bold colours and goofy caricatures of Ritcher, Sanchez, Johnson and Mariano are pretty neat as well.
Curiosities Series – Isle – Nick Jensen
You probably already know, but Isle is a British-based skateboard company started by Nick Jensen and Paul Shier; two of the most distinguished English shredders in recent memory. And if you haven’t heard of these cats and the team, go and watch Vase now! For the ‘Curiosities’ series, Jensen decided to take a novel approach in his attempts to distill the personalities of his riders onto the bottom of their boards. By filling shelves with personal keepsakes, treasured possessions, mementos, beverages and snacks, Jensen brought a cool, personal touch to this series of pro decks and gave skateboarders a new insight to the Isle team.
Monster Target Series – Santa Cruz – Jim Phillips
This classic Rob Roskopp Santa Cruz deck designed by Jim Phillips was first released around 1984. The target with the monster’s arm breaking through was so popular that Phillips, Roskopp and Santa Cruz went on to release 6 more to make one of the gruesomest (and coolest) graphic series’ in skateboard history. Looking back at it now, the series definitely gives off a type of ‘vintage grotesqueness’ and old school 80’s gnar that conjures up a heavy dose of nostalgia and definitely leaves us wishing we had some of these on our wall.
SantiHero Mosaic Series – AntiHero – Santi (@farkus)
For this rad mosaic series, AntiHero teamed up with a local California artist known as Santi (check out his ‘gram here) . The boards certainly have a different look to the majority of the AntiHero decks both past and present, but they still manage to capture that particular brand of AntiHero energy. Dope skeletons, gunshots, broken bottles, blood, guts, gore and not giving a fuck; what’s not to love!