Not quite satisfied with his first homage to the deck, "Disposable: A History of Skateboard Art" (which we covered Amazon.)
At a whopping 368 full-color pages, the hardcover indeed makes for something of a biblical account, cataloging an astonishing breadth of 20th Century skateboard graphics. Peppered with quotes from former pros and accounts from obsessive collectors, Disposable also ventures into new territory, charting the nostalgia-fueled craze of collecting that brings many to the brink of bankruptcy.
We had an opportunity to ask Sean a few questions about this latest undertaking and he generously obliged with some heartfelt, inspiring answers. Read on below.
What compelled you to produce a follow-up to "Disposable: A History of Skateboard Art?"
Unfinished business, mainly. There were a few key artists, skaters, and companies that I hadn't been able to find when I made the first book, like V. Courtlandt Johnson, Mark Gonzales, Greg Evans, Bruce Walker, Christian Cooper, Mark "Gator" Rogowski and Art and Steve Godoy, so half of the drive to do another book was just to tie up those loose historical ends. But then another part of me—the obsessive-compulsive collector—wanted to compile the most comprehensive visual overview of skateboards produced from the '60s to present times.
So to differentiate this book from the last—not that it mattered, people are still confused as to whether or not this is just another revision of the first book or an altogether new one—I placed an emphasis on collecting in the introductory text (it's not as horribly dry as that sounds) and drop all of the new quotes, anecdotes and histories into the board galleries. There are, incidentally, over 2000 board images shown in the book. I tried counting them up one night, but lost my train of thought somewhere around 2300 and didn't have the heart to start over.
How did the act of collecting become a talking point for the book?
I'm one of those sad people in life that is genetically bound to nostalgia and the sentimental act of collecting things. I began avidly collecting boards circa 2000—I'd collected some before that, but never in quite so manic a fashion—which sounds harmless at first until you learn that some of those boards can cost anywhere from 50 to 10,000 bucks. Worse yet, I have that OCD problem where once I get into something it's all or nothing. And in this case "all" meant the creation of not one but two books.
Anyway, I've always been fascinated with the collector psychosis, so this isn't so much a "skateboards are super neat collectibles!" talking point as it is a half-ass thesis on the literal madness that collecting can be at times in direct relation to skateboards. But in the end it really was just an excuse so I could drive around California for another two years and root out all sorts of boards that are still in existence and have rarely or never been seen before.
Interview continues with more spreads after the jump.
Have you made any new acquisitions since the book was published?
No, hardly any in fact. Due to a rather major life transition at present I've had to reign in my idiocy and no longer have the disposable cash I once did—no pun intended. Luckily I was able to score most all of the boards I'd hoped to prior to suspending myself to the sidelines where I can do nothing but sit and watch everyone else have the fun.
How do you think the recent mass appeal of skateboarding has influenced skateboard art?
In the mass appeal sense…perhaps little to none? Well, that's not true, I guess. The more mass-market money that companies make the more they're able to help and support the artists creating the work, including the more "limited" projects which tend to be of a more arty nature. So the trickle down helps in the end, but art will always be a significant aspect of skateboarding with or without the mass appeal. Oddly enough, in some ways it was even better when there was no mass appeal, e.g. the more creative rip-off graphics from the early '90s that successfully slipped by under the legal radar.
What do you make of the limited edition craze that has turned skateboards into collectible prints to be hung on the wall rather than battered on the streets?
I go both ways, as I'm guilty of doing this myself, I suppose. On one hand it's great for the artists: they're getting recognized, they're getting paid (hopefully), and the medium keeps getting pushed in any number of creative directions. But on the other… what makes the boards of the '70s, '80s, and '90s so intriguing and collectible is that very few people had the thought or care to save any of these boards then. So today's "limited editions" are essentially a forced collectible commodity of sorts that will in no way be considered rare years from now because most everyone bought them expressly for holding onto them. But I guess that only really matters if someone is trying to work the investment angle…otherwise, fuck, skateboards make great wall-hangers—especially if you have an awkward, narrow wall space that you feel the burning need to fill with something.
You note early on that, in compiling the new book, you focused on pleasing yourself. By your own admission, you ran out of space to include boards post-2000. Do you hope to produce yet another follow up, or will you leave it to future collectors to present the New Testament?
No, I don't think so. A few people have already picked up that torch and, to be honest, my heart lies in the '80s and '90s of skateboarding, where I think I've pretty much covered everything I possibly could. Obviously I still appreciate what's being printed on the bottom of skateboards, but it's not enough to devote another two years of my life to it, or at least not in book form. I did, however, recently start up a little "life after books" blog about skateboards and the art upon them, so that's probably where I'll be getting my OCD fix from now on.