How did it all start? Who got you involved in putting your art on skateboards?
I actually made a skateboard out of a solid piece of maple in high school. 1978 or 1979. I took the trucks and wheels off a plastic Makaha my mom had bought me years before at Sears or someplace, mounted them on the maple, then painted a graphic on the top of the thing. I still have it. Thing weighs a ton.
Who inspired you as an artist?
Early on, as a kid, my dad. He was a career military guy, but at night he painted and did pen and inks. Beautiful stuff. I learned to draw just laying on the floor in his studio copying pictures out of his art book collection. All the tools I needed were right there.
What was the first graphic that you did?
That high school shop board was my first graphic. I used to custom paint the bottoms of my real boards after that. But if you mean "legit" graphic, I can't remember, really. Maybe for Jason Lee?
How did you get involved with World?
Rocco had started SMA (pre World) in Torrance, and the magazine I worked at was in Torrance as well. We interviewed him in an issue of Homeboy magazine back in '88 or something, and Spike really hit it off with him. I started to go around to World a lot after my job at Homeboy ended. Steve paid freelance artists pretty well, and I really needed the work.
How did you get along with Rocco?
Fine. I liked what he was doing as far as being a skater and starting his own thing, doing it his own way. But we weren't close at all.
Although you guys had different styles, did you work closely with Marc McKee and Sean Cliver or were you off doing your own thing during your time at World?
We didn't work together at all. The most we did was run into each other at the offices. Sean and Marc both worked there and I was a freelancer who worked from home.
What was the inspiration behind the Cat In the Hat/Grinch bLind Jason Lee decks?
You know, I can't even remember. It was probably some idea Jason had.
Did all the "rip-off" graphics that World was doing back then drive you crazy or, or did you like to do them?
I thought it was pretty funny, actually. Nothing was taken seriously by skaters back then. These days things are almost too serious or contrived... that's why I like brands like Anti Hero and Consolidated.
What's the story behind the Gabrielle Rodriguez Grenade deck?
I always liked working with Natas because he pretty much let me do whatever I wanted. On that board it kind of just happened because I happened to have those items sitting in my studio - the grenade and the bone. The background sculpture was done in a style I was working in quite a bit at the time. I was doing a lot of pounding tin 3D stuff - making dangerous toys. With Gabriel's graphic I just wanted it to look scary and mean.
What is your most vivid memory of working with Natas and 101?
Going over Natas's place in Santa Monica. He had just started doing work as a legit designer and he had all the best Mac stuff for the time. He's a good dude.
Do you feel like you had more freedom when doing something for 101, as opposed to World?
Sometimes. There were times with 101 when the graphic ideas were really cut and dried just like the assignments from World. Like the crack pipe and beeper graphic... that was a real specific idea Natas had. I don't even remember whose graphic that was. Natas?
What is your favorite skateboard graphic of yours from the World/101 days?
The Gabriel Rodriguez Grenade graphic by far.
photo courtesy of Sean Cliver
What is your favorite skateboard graphic that you've done while at Girl?
Wow... can't really pick one. I guess the ones I get more freedom to do what I want. Oh, and one I did for Rudy Johnson where there is a story, and the typography makes up the body of the Girl OG.
What are your top 5 favorite skateboard graphics ever (that you haven't done)?
The Natas SMA Panther. A lot of the Santa Cruz Jim Phillips stuff. Accidental Gun Death by Marc McKee. I liked Neil Blender's G&S graphics and the stuff Tod Swank hand drew for both Skull Skates and Foundation.
Do you remember the first time that Mike or Rick talked to you about Girl? Did it seem like a big deal to make the move, or were you ready to go?
I was SO ready. I think I approached Spike first, then maybe Megan... I didn't know Rick too well and I didn't really know Carroll at all.
What's the craziest thing you ever heard Sheffey say, or saw him do?
I have a memory of him chasing Sam Smyth around the warehouse with real malice in mind.
For awhile in the mid-late 90's it seemed like you guys stopped using the OG logo, did you just get sick of it?
Yes. We did. Then we just embraced it after that. It's such in important mark for us, there's no way we could let it go, so we just try to think of new ways to work with it. It's a good challenge.
Do you find it hard to keep re-inventing the OG logo?
Yeah, of course. After 1,000 graphics it get's a little tougher to try and be original or unique - that's why a lot of the younger guys here have taken on the duties of graphics. They have a much fresher eye than I do.
If not Girl/Chocolate, what other Skateboard co. would you choose to work for...if you had to...like someone was holding a gun to your head or something?
I've always been friends with Tod Swank, so I'd say Foundation.
What's your favorite Chocolate series?
Any of the series done by Evan Hecox or Geoff McFetridge. Seriously.
Do you skate the Girl Park much?
No, not anymore. My knees are fucked. But my son's in there all the time in the summer.
Who is the best non-team member skater who works at Girl?
Dude, there are seriously some good skaters here. I'd have to say Jordan, who works in the warehouse, he actually won our employee skate break contest. Or Whisper Jamie, one of the sales guys - ripper.
Did you hold onto many of the boards that you did the art for?
Not any more. It gets pretty ridiculous after a while. These days I only keep the ones that are special to me in some way.
What do you think of people that collect old skateboards, are they as bad or worse than comic-book geeks, and baseball card collectors?
Personally, I'm not too into making old skateboards too precious. I only save boards for sentimental reasons... I'd never sell any of them.
Did you ever imagine back in the early 90's that people would be trying to track down and pay outrageous sums of money for these old boards that you did some of the art for almost 20 years later?
Not at all. Insanity. It's been happening with BMX now as well.
Do you go to Girl 5 days a week?
Usually more. There have been times when I have practically lived here finishing work. Other times we're in here skating.
Is it hard making time for other projects that are outside of Girl?
Not usually. Megan and Rick are super cool with me working on outside projects. They are great friends, besides being my bosses - and I try to never let other work effect my duties at Girl. If anything at all, I'd hope that any outside work I do enhances what I do for Girl. This is my home.