04 February 2010

Some thoughts on skateboard art and collecting

I was a collecting nerd as a kid. Mainly I collected stamps but also coins, badges and other random crud. The Lewis family stamp collection is actually quite impressive. We even once had a Two Penny Blue but as I understand it someone may have sold it for drugs. Anyway, as a child I think 'collecting' was an effort to fill a void. Yet, every time I acquired a new item for a particular collection, instead of satisfying me, it would leave me feeling empty and yearning for the next piece. Then, I'd never know what to do with my collections. Sometimes I'd pull them out, arrange them, price them and then store them again but I couldn't do anything useful with them. Again, I'd get that empty feeling that can only come from trying to find satisfaction or fullfillment in material items.

One thing I never collected was skateboards. Skateboards were always for using. It got to a point, when I was going through a board a month, that I had to begin selling other stuff to fund new decks. But everytime I snapped a board, I wouldn't feel bad, I'd actually feel quite satisfied that I rode the hell out of it until it was an unusable piece of refuse.

Within the last few years skateboarding went through a nostalgic stage and people began collecting boards. It is insane how much people are paying for boards from the 80s. Boards that will hang on living room walls, doing nothing remotely for what they were intended. Anyway, with more expendable income than when I was a kid, I started a skateboard collection, with the thought that I'd celebrate my youth with boards I rode back in the day. My collection capped out at two boards. A Jason Jessee 'Neptune' and an Eric Dressen 'Celtic Roses.' These were two of my favorite boards and graphics that meant something to me, with their connection to the ocean and my celtic heritage.

Sometimes, I'd sit there and look at them. Great, how lovely they looked hanging up there on the wall. Maybe I should save for another or get the same models in a different color. Then, I'd get that same empty feeling again. Until one day, I needed a new surfboard and did not have the funds. It was like being a kid again, selling off my shit to fund something I 'needed' or at least something that would see some real use under my feet. So I sold those collector skateboards and realized how insane I was to place any significance in them in the first place.

Skateboards are for riding.

There is a lot of celebratory wanking over skate graphics and they have had a profound effect on many of our lives. But let's face it the most profound aspect of skateboard art is its temporary nature. You appreciate it, then you shred the hell out of it and its gone. Like the street art of Banksy or the natural art of Andy Goldsworthy and Jim Denevan. It is great and then it is gone. Trying to hold on to it or grasp it will only cause you angst. Enjoy it and let it go. Because obsessive collecting is a mental illness.

The above collection is an Andy Warhol series from Alien Workshop that you can buy for $600. Some wealthy skateboarders will certainly snap these up and mount them in a glass case or something and stare at them and wonder what to acquire next. I never liked Warhol and it is clear way that this 'collection' is more about the worship of consumption and material desire than actual skateboarding.

Below is my most recent deck purchase from Mike at Merde skateboards. It is a great photo of a train-hopping skateboarder. It is on display in my basement right now and I have been admiring it for several weeks because at some point, I'm going to break the board I'm riding now and tear the shit out of this one.