Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Extra: Nate Carrico and the unvoluntary co-branding

As there will be one-month gaps between each "Memory Screened" page in Skateboarder, I figured out I’d fill the blanks with a bunch of interviews and whatnots just, well, cause those are extremely important issues that need to be addressed. My first question mark? This intriguing Black Label John Cardiel board that says “Dogtown skates” on it (see post below). To me, a symbol of home made times when skateboarding was not so serious, and when lawyers and copyrights belonged to the industries of the “other” world. So between two sobs of old-fart despair I cornered the graphic’s author, Nate Carrico, and pretty much asked him the mother of all questions: What the fuck ?

When did you start doing skateboard graphics?
“Officially? October of 1989. I was 21 and it was a dream come true. My friend Ross Goodman rode for Santa Cruz at the time and Santa Cruz was in a search for an artist to add to their art department after a separation from Jim Philips. I think Ross told someone to call me. I was a doodler that became an apprentice to two of awesome artists, Johnny “Mojo” Munnerlyn and Kevin Marburg.” From there I worked for NHS (all their brands) and some random others; the Cardiel DTS/Black Label graphic being one example.
I stayed ther for one year in 1989, then left to go back to school and work at a skatepark in Sacramento. The “back to school” thing lasted a year, that’s when I did the Cardiel board. Not sure if the graphic for John happened because he was a regular at the skatepark and knew I drew pictures or... If JJ Rogers, a friend of mine that was on Dogtown, recommended me to Jim Muir. The events are blurry. I remember being totally stoked to make a graphic for Cardiel because he was/is an amazing skateboardist and a Sacto local.”

Did you do this graphic specifically for John Cardiel?
“Yes. I’m not clear whether the idea came from John or we came up with it together or Jim Muir gave me the idea. I’m sure it wasn’t a drawing I had laying around waiting for a home because if I drew something on my own it would have a skull in it somewhere.”

How did it fit Cardiel, you think?
“Uh... I actually don’t think it fit him. I think I let John down with that graphic. As a piece of art it’s poor on many levels. I’m sure John has good reasons for picking that graphic as a favorite, but he deserves better art. Some time later, he had an Evel Knievel graphic, just the V stripes with stars. At any rate, if there was a skateboarder who deserved the title “Evel Knievel of skateboarding” it was John. Every time Cardiel rode he put on a show and he went huge. Didn’t matter if the crowd was two buddies of his or 50 kids at a demo. And many times you were watching him for the spectacular crashes too. Though, an Evel Knievel graphic is closer, it still doesn’t fit. John is an original and deserves something original. Something bold and fearless?”

How did it end up on a Black Label board?
“I think John’s account is pretty much the way it went down. Lucero called and I sent the art. I might have gotten a couple boards out of the deal.”

Was Jim Muir bummed at all?
“Alzheimer’s and selective memory filters are in place but... I don’t think Jim was bummed. I would say Jim was the kind of guy that would be bummed for me because the graphic work I did wasn’t going to be made and sold. But I never spoke to Jim Muir after the original job in 1990.”

What did you do after that and what are you up to these days?
“In 1991 I returned to NHS and begged for my job back, I worked there until 1998. Nowadays I work at an in-house design department for a video game company.”

What’s the best and worst thing about doing board graphics?
“Best: getting your art permanently applied to a skateboard that’s distributed and sold. Worst: getting your art permanently applied to a skateboard that’s distributed and sold. Because I’ve made some horrible art in my time.”

Friday, December 5, 2008

John Cardiel: "I sent a La Cumbre t-shirt to Lucero and they just re-did it"

Originally published in Skateboarder # 100

Attics always have that mysterious treasure hunt feel to them. You’ll find only two things in there, usually: either the complete 1961 National Geographic collection (cool), or a former tenant’s lover’s skeleton that will allow you to be charged for premeditated murder and finish this dull existence of yours in jail (not cool). Fortunately, John Cardiel’s parents’, in Grass Valley, bare none of the above but more interestingly a collection of Cards’ past pro-models, from Black Label to Antihero. Some old Lamar snowboards, too, for those who care. After stacking them all up on the deck, outside, John finally picked a bunch in his trunk, and finished his editing at home. Here’s what he has to say about his own five favorite pro-models.

Black Label Copenhagen board
Art by John Lucero
“This is the first of my boards that was actually made. I’m saying this because I was supposed to get a board on Dogtown, and they came up with my board graphic and everything in a skate ad, and what happened was that the company Dogtown stopped doing production in San Francisco, Jim Muir just took everything back to LA and it didn’t restart for a while. Basically they shut down, so I had to transfer and got picked up by John Lucero, he offered me a home on Black Label.
At the time, I was into chewing tobacco, my favorite brand was Copehnagen, so John proposed to do a Copenhagen-style board for my wood board, and back then there was a slick too, and the other one had graphics with candy on it. Anyway, the wood board came first, and all the different boards had different colored stripes. John is a really good artist so he pulled this one easily.”

Black Label Dogtown board
by Nate Carrico
“This board came out a while after my first board, maybe a year or so. I really wanted the Dogtown graphics to come out, so John [Lucero] was like : “Fuck it, why don’t we do it?” So he called up the dude who did it, an artist who was living in Santa Cruz and doing graphics for Santa Cruz at the time. So we got the graphics from him and, boom, John did the board. We added a Black label logo but we left the Dogtown one, we just ran it like whatever, you know. It wouldn’t catch no flack, we just did a short run. I don’t think the Dogtown guys even cared even though John did get permission from Jim Muir. At the time he was going through his own struggle.”

Black Label La Cumbre board
by Daniel Dunphy
“These graphics come from La Cumbre, it was my favorite burrito spot in San Francisco, on 16th and Valencia. There’s even that old song about this place: “Take me back to La Cumbre / I want another steak burrito”. The song was by Skatemaster Tate, and was used in some old Powell video. It was one of the best burrito spots in SF until they got bought out and changed some of the ingredients. But it was my favorite spot then, and that’s why I love that board so much. Inside, they have a big mural painting that we used for this graphic. I sent John a t-shirt and they just re-did it.”

Black Label Gonz board
Art by Mark Gonzales
“I was so stoked that Gonz did this board for me. I didn’t know Mark back then, but John Lucero did.
So one day he asked me what kind of graphic I wanted and I just said jokingly: ‘I want a Gonz graphic, man!’ And then next thing you know he calls me up and says: ‘Hey John, I got something for you, would that work you think?’
I was like what? Gonz painted this on a plank at John’s place, just for this board. (…) I was so super stoked on it.”

Antihero Hawaiian dog board
“Yeah, there are a lot of Black label boards in this selection, but there’s a bunch of boards that mean a lot to me on Antihero as well. This board is really special, though. It’s a fairly new board, but still... I was on a trip with a bunch of friends and I took a picture of that dog on the side of a fence, and I just thought of this graphic in my head.
I was with some really good friends at the time, I also like that you wouldn’t be able to tell by just looking at it that it means so much to me. I shot the photo maybe a year ago, when I got sent to Hawaii, just to visit. Steve Van Doren sent me and Julien to the Pipeline surfing contest, just out of love. Steve’s just the best. He’s the most down-ass fucking dude, straight up. I can’t say enough about him, cause it’s real, you know what I mean?”

Ed Templeton : "We were into Fugazi and everything political"

Originally published in Skateboarder # 99

It only took five minutes. Before mayhem ensued, Ed Templeton’s garage was just this quiet, bo
hemian art studio in Huntington Beach, with a painted life-size naked silhouette’s profile being finished on a wall, a darkroom and some cut-out heads waiting for their programmed injection by wooden syringes. And after? Decks all over the floor and a very perplexed Ed, not really sure how to fulfill this strange request : pick only five of his own all-time favorite pro-models. Right now, having exhumed only a third of the loot from the former kitchen cabinet where he stores them all, the count culminates at 15 pre-selected boards.
“It’s… hard”, he starts, as he digs deep through eighteen pro years spent with New Deal, TV and Toy Machine. “I started out drawing my own graphics, that was my plan, because I was a lot into Chris Miller when I started skating. At the time, his board just came out with a bird and a cat on it, and I heard he drew it. I thought it was cool.” H
e scratches his head. A few dilemmas later, the final five are chosen. Welcome to 'Memory Screened,’ whose sole purpose is to turn pros’ garages into a complete mess.

New Deal cat board (1990)
Art by Ed Templeton
“That was my first pro-model, ever. As I said, I wanted to do my own graphics and I started coming up with ideas. As a kid I was always into learning about Egyptian iconography and artwork, that’s where the cat came from. This shape was actually an Egyptian cat, I mean they sell this at the Metropolitan Museum of Art as a pin…
I got the inside from some book, no idea wich one. I just blew it up on a copy machine. It’s a scene of some kind of chaos going down, you see some skeletons in the street, there’s a preacher too, one of the skeletons is even having sex with a woman ! Then I changed the signs: I put “nude eel” on one just for the pun aspect of it, this other one says “Hello I’m the otter,” it’s one of the things I was saying at the time, probably a play on the Beatles’ song I am The Walrus. And then, I didn’t realize until now, one of the sign says “Television”, which was to be my company with Mike V…”

Television cow board (1992)
Art by Ed Templeton
“I had been drawing these cow heads with just the intestines hanging out, because cows have four stomachs. The top graphic says “Eat me I’m probably delicious.” It was that crude expression in 1992, when I turned vegan. It was partly from hanging out with Mike V and Christian Kline [Poweredge mag’s editor in chief –ed.note]. Every time they’d take me to a restaurant, they’d be like: “We’ll pay for your dinner if you don’t eat meat !” Then they gave me some litterature, I read it and it just made sense. As a kid you get really excited about things. When I was on tour with Mike V, we’d go to places and the kids would come up to us : ‘Oh, you guys are finally here ! We’re the hardcore vegans, we kick people’s asses who eat meat !’ Mike and I would try to explain that it’s not about joining some kind of program. I don’t mind talking about it, but I don’t try to make it my cause. I haven’t moved away from that stuff at all in my head, but as you grow older you just find more subtle ways to put that out. You just sort of instillate it.”

Toy Machine cheese board (1993)
Art by Ed Templeton
“This one came out in 1993, it’s probably why it wasn’t seen really. We were making small runs because we knew graphics were going to be changed the next month. If they didn’t sell, companies would even scrape the graphics off and put new ones over the boards! At the time I was learning to make the screen prints myself, so I was trying to do an exercise with that. It was like a big process, cutting and making films kind of thing.
This drawing is absurd in a lot of ways because there’s not a lot of meaning to it. At one point I thought it’d be cool to have a guy with a fly swatter, and ‘cheese’ was just a word we used to make fun of things that are cheesy or something like that. The statue was just one I had in my house, I thought ‘I’m just gonna have a shelf with objects.’ That’s it. But I like the way it looks. Even if it’s totally amateurish, I really like the bold, primary colors too”.

Toy Machine syringe board (1994)
Art by Ed Templeton
“That’s the first one I thought of. It was not the first time I did a board with a message, it started from the “Buy Me I’m Naked” board I had on Televsion, when I was doing that company with Mike V and we were really into Fugazi and everything political.
I was always drawing these guys with TV glasses around this time period, like we’re looking through a TV lens. People in the USA are very interested in what’s going on on TV. The syringe is something we’ve always used, like ‘Get injected with Toy Machine’, an ongoing theme for me. I don’t know if skaters remember the graphics with some sort of message better, but I will, because they’re not political in a way that gets dated. It’s still relevant today, there’s still people getting injected with politics and religion and other people’s lives…”

Toy Machine toy rabbit board (1998)
Art by Adam Wallacavage
“My friend Adam Wallacavage was doing these really elaborate silk screens at the time that looked really cool, I loved them. So when he did graphics for us they just came out perfect. It’s one of my favorite boards that ever came out on Toy Machine. He only did these ones for us, there was a bunch of them because he had this toy collection that he would shoot photographs of. Actually it’s his toy collection that we used in Jump Off a Building too, this was around that time, all the toys flashing.”

Salman used to like Lacoste striped rugby shirts, hence...

OK, so before this became a feature in Skateboarder, here's how it went: sometime last year I was interviewing Salman Agah for a French mag and we were talking about his old camel graphics board, kind of nerding around, why the stripes and why the camel and this and that. It made me think how pros have sometimes good anecdotes about some of their own pro-models. Driving back from his place, I also remembered the stash of boards that Sean Cliver had under his bed when I met him in 2001...
Most of these dudes must have such graphic treasures buried somewhere in their houses, I thought.
Maybe people would be interested in seeing them again (for those born before 1980), or floored to discover that once upon a time, a skateboard bottom displayed something else than just a huge, unimaginative, boring logo, but actual ARTWORK. You know, silk screens and stuff. Hence the triple or quadruple pun of this blog's title, sorry. I hope you'll enjoy it despite this flagrant display of French jeu-de-mot-ness.