New Skateboard Graphics: by J. Namdev Hardisty, foreword by Michael Leon, 144 pgs. By M.Avrg

May 14, 2009

Don’t go into this expecting another Disposable. This is quite different. Though a collection of skateboard art, this is more in the present than in the past. And more than a collection of graphics, Hardisty and Leon both implant in your mind the thought about today’s intent of the artwork chosen. They both bring up how marketing and competing for your attention amongst the sea of other companies has directed what the bottom of today’s skateboards look like. Some are individualized, and many are going for a more instantly recognizable brand. Good or bad, I imagine that’s to be decided individually. Both options present challenges that produce interesting results. You can see that here.
The companies showcased within are 5Boro, Bueno, Chocolate, City, Element, Enjoi, Foundation, Girl, Heroin, Hessenmob,  Hopps, Mystery, Popwar, Rasa Libre, Skate Mental, Slave, Stereo Sound Agency, Toy Machine, and Zero. I’ve spent some hours looking at this book, much the same way I used to look at Thrasher in the ‘80s and the ads, studying them for all the boards with their various shapes and graphics, making mental notes about which boards I’d like to own. Of the companies featured in here, the graphics that stood out the most were from Bueno, Toy Machine, Zoo York, most of the Chocolate section, and 5Boro, in particular, with its mix of modernist cartoon, clip art, and hip hop.
At the back are interviews with some of the artists behind the graphics. My only complaint with this is I wish the interviews were personalized instead of asking the same set of questions. Other than that, this book is great, right down to the front cover, which looks like wood and has a square of clear coat with the title, author, and other information. Go to any book store and you will find a lot of books about skate graphics, and most of them suck. New Skateboard Graphics however, is worth picking up, and like the previously mentioned Disposable, this is one to keep.  –M.Avrg (Mark Batty Publisher, 36 W 37th St., Ste. 409, New York, NY 10018, www.markbattypublisher.com)

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