Skateboard Art & Photography / by Peter Levitan

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Skateboard Art & Photography

I have been a collector of skateboards, as in skateboard art, for my house and advertising agency, for years.

The reasons for collecting are simple. Skateboard art and graphics have been at the forefront of ‘cool’ design and youth culture since the 1970’s. Skateboards also represent low cost / high value art. There are few types of 3D art that can be bought for $30 to $60. Plus, online retailers offer hundreds of choices. The cost value equation is insane given the huge range of skateboard deck options.

Frankly, while the low cost is a key factor, it is the wide range of graphics and cultural significance that nailed it for me. These decks are simply too cool to not (easily!!!) hang on your walls.

I am now putting my global portrait photography on skateboards (see the women above). Like why not? Plus, this is part of a personal quest to find very unique ways to show my work. I am a bit, understatement, bored with photo prints in frames shown in quiet white-walled galleries and the 72 million images posted to Instagram and Facebook this morning. See my take on the use of projectors as an alternative to the same old same old at the Brooklyn Museum Gary Winogrand show here.

Jean-Michel Basquiat Skateboards

A few months ago I stumbled on The Skateroom, a website that sells high-end editioned skateboards by a wide range of artists including Jean-Michel Basquiat, Ai Weiwei, Warhol, JR and Jeremyville to fund charitable programs. These are not low-cost decks at pricing ranging from fairly expensive at $300 up to $2,500 for sets.

The pricing is irrelevant. There are very few ways that you can get a Robert Rauschenberg on your wall for $200. I mean, really. Go buy the art and fund the good cause. I put a link to The Skateroom below.

From the Skateroom website:

The Skateroom project unites art buyers, artists, galleries, museums, foundations, retailers, and non-profits around the world in a new economic model — « Art for Social Impact ».

Our “5:25” business model is simple: we unleash human creativity and the fruits of artistic labor to donate 5% of the turnover or 25% of the profit from every sale– whichever number is greater. Through our community’s support, we have so far raised over $500,000 to fund 26 social skate projects dedicated to empowering at-risk youth around the world.

By placing works of art on responsibly made skateboards, The Skateroom connects people to the reality that Art for Social Impact is something achievable right now

The Skateroom exists to bring art into your life while bringing brighter possibilities to the lives of all.

This Got Me Thinking About Producing My Photographs As Skateboard Art

I recently created the three decks from photo portraits that I took in Selma, Alabama and Venice Beach.

I picked these portraits of three women from my white sheet street series because the women, and especially their hair, fit perfectly in the skateboard “frame”.

I’ll do more. Right now, I am thinking how I could use skateboards as background for the portraits of Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus that I am going to shoot in India in January. I am trying to imagine a series that includes Varanasi’s Hindu Sadhus .

 Here are a couple of links:

 The Skateroom 

 Sean Cliver’s “Disposable: A History of Skateboard Art”  

Over the years, I’ve bought boards from Warehouse Skateboards. Surf (LOL) around and find your next piece of art.

OK. Back To Skateboard Art Ala Sotheby’s - Do I Hear $800,000 Anyone?

Damien Hirst “Spin” Set Of Three

Damien Hirst “Spin” Set Of Three

While I am sure that you probably do not care if people classify skateboards are ‘art’ or not, according to the auction house Sothebys… skateboards, at least those produced by the skater brand Supreme are. In January 2019 Sotheby’s held an auction of a historical set of Supreme’s boards under the title: 20 years Of Supreme.

The auction included artist collaborations, featuring George Condo, Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, Richard Prince, KAWS, Marilyn Minter, Nate Lowman, and Takashi Murakami, among others.

Good or bad, you decide, the collection went for the low estimate of $800,000.