Social channels for discovering and sharing art

In a world of instant connectivity, finding the inspiration to create board graphics has never been easier. We use Pinterest, Instagram, Dribbble, Behance, Artsy, and Ello as powerful social channels for showcasing design. We browse street art and contemporary art through these channels in search of our next graphic.

Before these online resources existed, it wasn’t as easy as opening up your preferred app, running a few searches, and crafting a good email. A good company would observe trends by visiting other related outdoor industry trade shows.

Kyle & I adhered to the same concept of attending trade shows early on since we were learning how to build and market a product. In fact, this is still a critical avenue to gather ideas and uncover a new direction for designing any product. [start with SIA & Outdoor Retailer, for the outdoor industries]

Uncovering the graphic design ‘hierarchy’ in board graphics

Being curious about the creative aspect of building and designing , we always found emerging trends for board graphics tended to trickle down from the skateboard industry.

Naturally, an in-house creative director for skateboard companies would befriend a street artist. Their art would then make its way into board graphics (if you gave a damn about what you were producing – which luckily most skateboard companies did).

We found the design chain hierarchy for graphics within ‘action sports’ went something like this:

skateboarding > surfing / snowboarding (BMX) > wakeboarding (moto & snow skiing)

How did skateboarding make it to the top of the funnel? Skateboarders & artists [street art, music and film]

So how did skateboarding lead the way within the hierarchy of design for board graphics? The most obvious answer is skateboarding was very accessible and had more time to mature than the other activities except for surf. That brought in more participants and a larger, more diverse following.

Naturally too, skateboarding had a connection to the streets. Immediately it was more accessible to a wide range of personalities. The cheaper manufacturing cost and more readily available materials allowed for experimentation in production and design. This led to a higher rate at which they could produce new designs and experiment.

The crossover appeal of street art

As skateboarding took shape in the 1990s you saw a crossover of gifted street artists & designers also skating. Skateboarders were hanging in social circles with artists of all backgrounds. Skaters were becoming artists. Artists were becoming skaters. NYC & LA was ground zero for this. Skateboarders were connecting with film makers, contemporary fine artists, street artists, musicians, fashion designers, photographers, you name it.

Recommended Watching: Dogtown & Z-boys, Riding Giants, Abstract: The Art of Design

Skateboarder and illustrator Todd Francis may have summed up working in skateboarding best, “For some folks, it’s a chance to finally work in an industry they’ve followed their whole lives. It’s a chance to create artwork with very few rules or restrictions.”

Then the internet hit.

The explosion of social networks dismantled the design hierarchy above. As the concept of sharing on the web became ubiquitous, it also increased the speed at which new designs were shared and merged into other industries. While the web certainly made it easier to discover new design trends, it also made it more difficult to create and discover an entirely new direction.

Recommended Skateboard Books

“Good artists copy. Great artists steal.” [incorrectly attributed to Picasso via Steve Jobs]

Find something you like, then make it your own.

So where do we draw our inspiration for our board graphics? We like to create meaning with the funny dichotomy between nature and technology. In short we are drawn to the great outdoors, movies, music, street art and streetwear. As you suspect, you’ll find many of our graphics relate to the dichotomous nature of the above. When you start combining them you’ll start to notice a new perspective or interesting direction.

The influence of the internet. The power of combining sport, music, film, fashion, sculpture, and photography.

Over the past 30+ years street artists have gone from art world outcasts to getting coverage in mainstream media.

Their success hinges in large part from street artists & brands finding a common connection in overlapping interests or shared social causes and then elevating each other’s message.

On rare occasion, when done successfully collabs open up new audiences for both the brand and the artist.

Take popular street artist Shepard Fairey as an example. While still quite well known in street circles at the time, Shepard created the iconic ‘Hope’ poster.  He eventually won the official approval of the Obama campaign during his run for the white house.

shepard fairey obama hope poster

Fairey built a small following with his work initially, leveraged a new audience to share his designs & message (however good or bad the press that followed), and the success of his brand Obey Giant soon followed. Balancing the fine line of artist and corporate work is not easy.

The irony of street art and streetwear.

Well known streetwear brand Supreme has developed a cult-like following from launching limited edition artist collabs. They’ve been doing it for a long time. Supreme’s new products drop weekly and sell out immediately.

The limited edition street art pieces has even created their own secondary resale markets. Supreme opened the doors to many of the brand x artist collabs now common throughout industries outside of streetwear.

Here’s a look at some of Supreme’s most successful collaborations over the years with artists.

Insights for making a connection: know your audience [brands and artists]

As an artist, designing a product without a canvas can be a little tricky.

Sometimes the product a designer must work with is limited by material, awkward forms and shapes, or even color.  Now add to this long hours, heavy competition and low pay and you see why the designer must have a strong connection with the underlying industry he or she is designing for.

Start small by building a portfolio of work. If you’re successful in finding work with another brand, don’t approach a competing brand in the same industry for more work in a short time frame. We find this happens often.

As a brand, we think it’s important to be genuine and spend time with the initial outreach. We like to have a clear direction of what we’re looking for.

The main point to remember for both artist and brand if your intention is commercial collaboration is to keep the outcome in the interests of the audience. Basically, the golden rule is know thy audience.

A few more artists we follow...

5. Adam Haynes
Adam Haynes was Nike’s go to man for much of their media campaigns and branding. His illustrations are a dreamland of shred-able terrain.

4. Todd Francis
Todd has been creating graphics for skateboards since 1993 among the other “crud” he does. He’s worked with Anti Hero skateboards, Stereo Skateboards, and Real skateboards before being Element’s main man starting in 1999. Todd has a very diverse style and adds humor in his designs, which we appreciate.

3. Christian Hundermark
Runs C100 Purple Haze studio with Clemens Baldermann out of Munich, Germany. They work with an impressive list of clients large and small. Conception, art direction, typography, design and illustration – you name it – they do it. Crisp, clean, thought provoking style. They have a street art book called “The Art of Rebellion“. They’ve got some great notoriety through Rome Snowboards.

2. 123klan
We are long time fans of 123klan. They are a French duo that has a long history of awesome work with apparel brands and street art scene.

1. Steve Cousins
Steve is one of the key members of Jager Di Paola Kemp Design where he has helped Burton Snowboards build every aspect of their image since 1989. This is the man behind the global powerhouse – enough said.

Introducing Humanoid Creator Collective: Frank Frazetta

humanoid creator collective

From the covers of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ fantastical novels to the harrowing tales of Conan the Barbarian, Frank Frazetta captured the mystery, adventure, and thrill of the sci-fi/fantasy world with his artwork.  Redefining the genre of sword and sorcery, Frazetta painted images that not only brought life to recognizable characters of brazen stories but created a vivid world for us to view them in. Whether battling monsters on far away planets, standing atop a pile of skulls, or rescuing the scantily clad girl of his dreams, Frazetta’s characters tapped into our deepest fantasies.

We wanted to be them.  Those dudes with the swords, the babes, and the beasts.  Savage, sexy, and downright badass. A sled pulled by polar bears. Slicing an anaconda in half before it devours your face. Rescuing all those supernatural women devoid of any clothing.  Frank’s paintings drop us right into the action. This was the fuel that pushed our adrenaline to the max. It was metal before there was metal.

We’re producing a limited run of boards under the Creator Collective with guest artist Frank Frazetta. In a tribute to one of the great artist icons of the 1970’s, we’re unleashing this beast just as Frank would have.  Not only paying homage to a great artist but also to a great sense of adventure, fantasy, and tearing the new world a new one.

Team Meme x Frank Frazetta
humanoid creator collective

From the covers of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ fantastical novels to the harrowing tales of Conan the Barbarian, Frank Frazetta captured the mystery, adventure, and thrill of the sci-fi/fantasy world with his artwork.  Redefining the genre of sword and sorcery, Frazetta painted images that not only brought life to recognizable characters of brazen stories but created a vivid world for us to view them in. Whether battling monsters on far away planets, standing atop a pile of skulls, or rescuing the scantily clad girl of his dreams, Frazetta’s characters tapped into our deepest fantasies.

We wanted to be them.  Those dudes with the swords, the babes, and the beasts.  Savage, sexy, and downright badass. A sled pulled by polar bears. Slicing an anaconda in half before it devours your face. Rescuing all those supernatural women devoid of any clothing.  Frank’s paintings drop us right into the action. This was the fuel that pushed our adrenaline to max. It was metal before there was metal.

We’re producing a limited run of boards under the Creator Collective with guest artist Frank Frazetta. In a tribute to one of the great artist icons of the 1970’s, we’re unleashing this beast just as Frank would have.  Not only paying homage to a great artist but also to a great sense of adventure, fantasy, and tearing the new world a new one.

Team Meme x Frank Frazetta
humanoid creator collective frank frazetta bio