If your key teenage years were spent growing up in Malmö, Sweden like Jacob Ovgren here, there’s no doubt that fun, sex and skateboarding would be on your agenda. This City (the third largest in Sweden) is awash with life due to its industrial background and university landscape, doused in artistic flair with happy people filling its clubs, skateparks and streets all over town. Jacob Ovgren’s artwork captures this spirit and adds humour and tongue-in-cheek messages in the form of cartoon influenced illustrations that all tell a wonderful story.
Since joining forces with Pontus Alv of Polar Skateboards and heading up their graphics department, Jacob’s work has finally hit a gallery for the very first time, here in London at Beach, in Shoreditch, where his Sick Emotions X-ibit (SEX) exhibition is running this month. We sat down with him for a quick chat whilst he was in town.
Let’s kick this off with some inspiration. What are your top-5 all time board graphics?
101 / Natas Kaupas “devil worship” by Marc McKee
Schmitt Stix / Joe Lopes “BBQ” by Neil Blender
World Industries / Chris “Dune” Pastras “Dune” by Marc McKee
Milk / Ron Chatman “Bike” by Ron Chatman
Blind / Jason Lee “American Icons” by Marc McKee
I can definitely see the influence on the Blind board, that’s sick…It’s a shame you don’t see more Ron Chatman graphics too, they’re dope.
Yea! I love the Chatman stuff, simple and clean – so good!
What influences your work outside of skateboarding?
Just listening to music and looking at stuff – anything that leaves me with some kind of thought or feeling. Good or bad, it don`t matter, as long as it doesn`t leaves me feeling uninspired. For my creative process, I want to be all braindead and not let any views or thoughts about right or wrong (Good or bad) come through. Just let it all out and then sort it out afterwords! Or just leave it to the beholder and let them sort it out!! Less work for me :)
I also read a lot of comics!
What comics are you feeling? Any artists in particular?
Heawy Metal and Daniel Clowes are good, but I also really love Looney Tunes as well, I think it´s an amazing format for storytelling!
Some of the stuff in the show is pretty fucked up – do you ever go too far? Sort of self-edit stuff?
I always have to remove things, Putting it in my private “not to be seen by anyone but me archive”. It’s growing larger everyday!
How much creative freedom do you have when working on Polar stuff?
Usually I just draw a bunch of stuff, always with the board shape at the back of my mind, and then we sit down now and then and talk about ideas and things that could work. Some things I have to redraw and some things are good as they are. Then if it`s a pro board you have to check with the rider and so on. I Love it! It`s a fun process!
Pontus is always good and has different views! It makes me think out of my comfort zone and surprise myself!
Has doing Board graphics influenced your work then? Like made you a better artist? Or have you always seen your work on skateboards?
I think I have improved a lot by doing skateboard graphics, Just the shape has made me start to think in new ways!
Favourite board companies (besides Polar of course!)?
I think Welcome has a good thing going, also The Highbrow company and Witchcraft!!
We heard on the grapevine that there could be a colab coming soon with Highbrow, any truth in that?
I don`t know too much about it. It´s my Friend Mike O`Shea (Mr Highbrow) who told me they were working on a colab with Polar. We will have to wait and see!
Big shout out to Charlie Hood and all at Beach. Jacob’s debut solo exhibition SEX ‘Sick Emotions X-ibit’ is open at Beach London gallery until March 27th. Alongside the original work, a selection of Jacob’s boards, tees and more for Polar will be available. For more info check out beachlondon.co.uk