So let's start in the beginning, what was your first proper setup?
It was a Sims Mike Folmer deck with Variflex trucks and Bones wheels.
How did you get involved with doing art for skateboards?
I was going to college at San Jose State University for Graphic Design with a concentration in illustration. Of course I was skating at the time and doing a bunch of contests. I was skating with Jim Thiebaud a lot and got introduced to Mike Ternasky and Tony Magnusson. Tony was at Uncle Wiggly
skateboards and had met Mike Ternasky earlier. They were trying to start a new company and I went skating with Tony, Jim Thiebaud and Brandon Chapman. Tony offered me a sponsorship, but Brandon and Jim had other things going at the time. Early on it was just called Magnusson designs, but later that changed to H-Street. I think I was the first rider on the team. I started doing freelance stuff then.
Do you remember the first graphic that you did?
Not really. I was going to school full time and would work at the YMCA summer camp in the summers that Mike Ternasky was running. Since he was getting the company going I often helped with graphics and other things. One of my first graphics I did that I remember was a Colby Carter board when he
What is your earliest memory of Mike Ternasky?
Working with him and sleeping on his floors when he was doing H-Street and the summer camp in his apartment in San Luis Obispo. I wasn't yet a councelor/instructor at the skate camp, so Mike would often have to kick me out of the course at the camp. We hung out a lot and would skate together at
night after everything had settled down. Neither of us were that great at skating compared to the pros, so at night we'd go out and street skate and shoot the shit.
Do you remember the first time he told you about starting planB?
Yeah, I stayed in touch with him cause we had become really good friends. I graduated college and called him about working for H-Street. He told me that he was leaving H-Street and starting a new company. We was really worried about it since he was friends with Tony Magnusson, but the other partner who came from the bodyboarding company was doing all sorts of crazy stuff and it was going in a direction he wasn't comfortable with. H-street had gotten too big and there were other sub companies like Life Skateboards and Iron Cross Skateboards, and it was going out of his control. The industry was at a low point and the financial backer at H-Street started putting his hands in and changing a lot of things that Mike felt was really sketchy. Some of the top riders were getting really bummed and told Mike something had to be done. He decided if he could start a new company, he could get the control back and run it with the riders having more of a say.
Talk about the early days of planB.... did Mike Ternasky give you soul-control of the art direction for the most part, or did he have an influence on the image of planB?
He gave me a lot of control with the overall look of the company, like ads, stickers, etc., but since board graphics were a very personal thing for the riders, often he dealt directly with them. It's funny, because all the major changes were always run by the pros in a team meeting before they were
implemented. When I designed the initial Plan B logo that was later referred to as the "dick and balls" logo, it wasn't my first choice. Other artists had submitted designs and I had a few that I had done. I actually had another logo I like better and after the team meeting it was decided to go with the dick and balls logo. That's just the way we got things done. I still laugh at it since I spent a ton of time spec'ing out how thick the outline was to be, style sheets on what color combos, sizing and scaling of the circles with spacing and the thickness and height of the line and now when I see it used, it's just butchered. People think it's just a line with two circles and they just crank something out in illustrator and call it the Plan B logo. I know right away when someone does that, and to this day, I don't see any of the correct applications of the original logo. It now just looks easy and slammed together. In regards to boards, when a rider's graphic was assigned to me, or a rider wanted to use me for my style, then I
would start on a board and tweak it with the rider till it was done. The top of the boards were always the same since the graphics were all over the place and at least this kept some of the overall feel the same. Of course even that changed since Jeremy Wray started to draw and wanted everything
his way, so we gave in on some stuff. Keeping the peace, meant having to compromise often.
What was the first graphic that you did for planB, (if you remember)?
I think it was the Sheffey "blocks" slick board. Sean gave us a bunch of photos and little objects he collected and I used them to create a sort of collage. I was really in to doing paintings with multi-media, but this was a stretch for me. I wasn't sure how it would end up, but I tried to incorporate as much of the stuff as I could. When I was done, Sheffey seemed to like it and we ran with it. To this day, I still have mixed feelings about it.
What are your top 5 favorite graphics that planB ever put out?
Hmmm, I liked the Matt Hensley "portraits" slick board I did with Niko Achtipe's photos. The Star Wars series that Sean Coons did were cool. The Danny Way "shotgun" slick board was awesome, and I also liked the "Madonna" board that Coons did. Maybe the Sheffey "Jungle Book" slick board I did too.
Whose idea was the planB Star Wars series that Sean Coons did?
Mike Ternasky's. Each of the characters related to the general personalities and style of the riders and it struck a cord with all of us. I do remember Mike Carroll hated it cause he was Princess Leia.
What's your favorite graphic that you personally did the art for?
I liked the Sheffey "Einstein" slick board. It was a multi- media board I did with silk-screens, hand painting, India ink, etc. I did about seven versions and we chose one of them to go with. It was a graphic I actually had a bit more time to do.
Did you have a favorite planB rider that you liked to do graphics for?
Danny Way. He was getting past his "fuck everything" stage and was growing up. He made a ton of money at H-Street and had some IRS issues and some other personal stuff. He started looking at things differently and took interest in the business side of things. He's great because he's seen it all
and was very mature for his age. He was fun to work with and understood how things needed to get done and had objective eyes.
What were your feelings on all the rip-off graphics that were being churned out during the early 90's?
At first I thought it was just an idea the Rocco and the artists at World Industries came up with to make fun of the corporations and industry, and it was a great idea. Even Santa Cruz did it with the "Enjoy Grosso" Coca Cola artwork. But, as time progressed it became obvious that companies including
ourselves were doing it to save time and an easy way to get around being creative. I really hated it, but it sold and made our lives easier so we milked it for a while. At the time we were changing graphics about every two months on one-run printing for that board, so the turnover in graphics was huge. With about seven riders, that's about 14 boards every two to three months and that's with each rider getting a slick and a silkscreen board. I still see people today doing it and I laugh. I lost track over how many
"Cease and Desist" letters we got and just moved on. I do know that you never want to fuck with Disney- ha ha.
What's the craziest thing that you ever saw Sheffey do, or heard him say?
There are a lot of them. When he went on his rampages and did drugs and stuff, I tried to stay clear of him since it was bound to be trouble. He got in lots of fights and would really spin out, so since I was working all the time I missed a lot of them. Actually I'm pretty good friends with him and saw him a few years ago. He's changed a lot, but not sure what he does today.
I do remember one time that probably changed him as a pro forever. We had just started filming for the first Plan B film and Mike Ternasky had flown down Pat Duffy to skate with the team to see if he would fit in and make the cut. He wasn't even amateur yet and went to the school to film the rail on top of the bank. Sheffey was considered the gnarly rail skater and no one could sack up to top him. That is when Duffy ollied from the bank on to the rail and back in again. Duffy also 50/50'd the steep rail. Hensley was there too and we were all tripping. Sheffey tried a couple of things, but slammed and it was obvious that it was beyond what he could do there. From then on, Sheffey tried to get more tech' and he stopped skating as much. Up until then, Sheffey had done the craziest stuff; from being on Shut Skateboards, to filming his part for the Life video, he always had the gnarliest footage, but when Duffy started doing what he does, I think he knew it not only took sack, but skill too. I never saw him skate the same way again. Maybe it was just timing or coincidence, but his focus seemed to go away from skateboarding and more towards partying and getting fucked up.
Did you ever get a strange feeling of resentment or competition towards planB coming from the other companies at World?
Oh yeah. The World artists were very talented and their style was perfect for silkscreen boards. They would work really hard and had all these great tools at their disposal. I was a traditional illustrator with a style that was focused more on realism and multimedia. It often didn't work too well when I tried to adapt that to some cartoon style artwork or improvise. My style just didn't always work for skateboard graphics. Our styles were totally different, but what set us apart was Ternasky's ideas, team and way
of running things. So our boards would often outsell their's by a lot. So yeah there was resentment. You have to remember though, we were young shits, and had a lot of attitude and could get away with pretty much anything. I laugh about it now, since like all artists, it was more about ego than anything else.
Did you spend much time at the world park?
Not really. I worked at the office a lot and wasn't part of the filming crew, so I rarely went up there. Our office was in San Diego, so to drive to the World Office and the World park was about two hours. Last time I saw it, it was all red and Rick Howard had just filmed stuff for his Big Brother interview. I was getting more in to mini ramps at the time, so manual pads and small ledges didn't really interest me that much, especially enough to make the two hour drive.
Name one person that almost got on planB back in the day, but got nixed at the last second?
Oh shit- Jim Greco. He was really young and had a lot of attitude. Plan B needed some amateurs and Greco was up-and-coming, but of course they needed to skate with the team and get voted on before anything would happen. Greco got along well with Mike, but I think his attitude got in his way with the team. Greco was like 14 or 15 and wasn't smart to the ways of filming with the guys. It was before his tight jeans, drugs, punk style. He did a lot of the classic "one-up" tricks when they would skate together. Well, I don't think he had any idea what he was doing, but that was bad especially with
the team at the time. I think Danny Way saw his potential, but it came down to a vote, and in the end the vote didn't pass so Ternasky had to give him the bad news. Mike had to do a lot of shitty work that he hated to do, but needed to get done.
Did you have a feeling that Mike Carroll and Rick Howard were going to leave planB and start their own thing before it actually happened?
No, no idea, but I didn't really hang out with them that much. Mike Ternasky had a van everyone used for filming and road trips. Those guys used it to drive across country on a trip and I think some of their ideas about doing everything started to come out. Just too much time on their hands. There was no filmer or team manager with them, so I think ideas just started brewing and they developed a legitimate strategy. There were some World team guys with them too, so even though they were in a different situation, it all got developed together. I don't think they thought about it much before that, but with so much time in the van driving, they were able to develop a plan. It was during the "focus" faze of skateboarding where they were just being shits and destroying everything, including car windows, houses, etc. By the end of the trip, the van was trashed- cut up, kicked in and graffiti all over it, and the guys had a lot of really gnarly things up their sleeves to rebel, much like Rocco did against Powell and Vision. They thought they could do the same thing. Once they settled down, I think it had more to do with controlling their own destiny and wanting everything for themselves. Once again, they were very young and paychecks were smaller since skateboarding was in one of it's slumps. The World Team didn't have as much say as the Plan B guys did either. A lot of them remembered when paychecks were huge, and thought World Industries was hoarding it all for themselves. Rocco showed no remorse about how much money he was making, and many of them thought that they should be making the money instead. Rick Howard had a girlfriend who worked at World and knew how things ran, so I think they had all the pieces in place to do their own thing. They just went for it and said "Fuck- You" to everyone. I think they've grown up since then, but for awhile it was really awkward. I was just the artist, so I don't think much of it was directed towards me and I was out of the loop, but I saw a lot of the outcome.
Do you remember what Mike Ternasky's initial feelings were?
Mike was really really bummed. He felt like he did everything with their best interest in mind. He co-signed cars for them, put them on the team and basically included them in on every decision he made- often when it even went against what he wanted. I think he felt really betrayed as if someone sucker punched him bad. Over time Mike confronted them and they sort of worked out some issues, but Mike was always questioning what and why?
What is your last memory of Mike T?
We had just got back from Vancouver at the skate contest up there. Mike's wife was pregnant and we were hanging out a lot. We used to battle a lot at Sega NHL. I was in his wedding and we spent a lot of time together. Anyways, I decided to take Monday off after the Vancouver trip when I got a call. They told me about it and honestly I was a little in denial. It just didn't seem real. Only the night before we were hanging out in Vancouver and laughing, and the next day he was gone. It took me a really long time to sink in and have some sort of acceptance.
When and why did you stop working for planB?
A while back. Mike had died and all of a sudden I had a ton to do. His wife Mary was at home pregnant and wasn't really involved at the time. The company went in to Probate with the State and we were allowed to run it, but with limited rules. I tried to do production for boards, wheels, t-shirts, jeans, accounting, art, bank stuff, etc., not to mention team meetings, staying in touch with the team and I was never their manager or boss, etc. It was a nightmare, and also at the time we were doing Type A Snowboards, etc. I did the best I could, but I was really inexperienced with accounting and other sides of the business. Eventually Mary got more involved and because technically it was her company, she of course had the final say and was the only one able to sign checks, deal with the bank, etc. Times were tough and money very short, so I was just spread too thin. World Industries tried to help out but without any direction and authority the riders were getting really anxious. With all this going on including a new video, I had almost no time for graphics. Mary decided to let the riders call more shots and that was fine with me, cause I was never really in a position to be their leader or boss and I don't think they wanted it either. It was a little awkward and I spelled out a plan for her to try and make it work, but the riders weren't ready for a change like that even if it was needed. So I just kind of backed off and let her go with it. She did a pretty good job, but it was above anything we could handle. She tried for a while and eventually sold it to some of the riders like Danny, Colin McKay, etc., who were making a run at it with Platinum, XYZ, and other companies. After that I just concentrated on Snowboarding and stopped being involved.
Do you remember the last thing you did for planB, artwise?
Not really. At this point it's all kind of lumped together. I had done the cursive B logo and some other stuff later on, but not very well in chronological order.
What do you think of the New planB?
Hmmm, haven't actually given it too much thought. I think the idea is good, but its tried to make a comeback before and hasn't done well. I know this is a different situation, so we'll see. I'm glad some of the original Plan B pros are still involved so then at least it has a history. Incorporating new blood to make it modern again is great too. I just wish they got the dick and ball and cursive logo right- kind of just winged together. No biggy- I hope they pull it off.
What are you up to these days? Do you still do anything with skateboarding? Do you still keep in touch with any of the old riders/filmers/artists from the early planB days?
About two years after Plan B and Type A Snowboards, I went to work for DC Shoes and would eventually be the Art and Advertising Director there. DC got huge and I was involved in many things, including the World Tour for the skate video DC did. We did 16 stops in 30 days, and then did a Domestic Tour. I was involved a bit in the skateboarding, but DC also did a lot of other sports, so my focus was all over the place. I was shooting photos, dealing with promotions, marketing, etc., etc. It was nice though since Danny Way and some other Plan B riders were involved with DC, so I saw them
all the time, but there are a lot of other employees at DC, so it was limited and they have some people who specifically concentrate on skateboarding. Its a big business. After Quiksilver bought DC, I moved to Utah for a couple of years and focused on the marketing side of the Snowboarding business for DC and I did that until recently. Now I focus on photography and design and work at a magazine publishing company where we dothree magazines including a Beer Magazine. I still skate, but not very often. I'll hop on a mini ramp now and again since its easy for me and I can just cruise. Most of my friends are still in the industry and I stay in touch as best I can. I'm back in California and have a house in Fullerton.