Deckades Exhibition – Bristol

Images and words courtesy of Jerome Loughran

The opening of the Deckades art show last weekend in Bristol was a runaway success with many people travelling from far afield to see Shiner Distribution‘s unparalleled board collection as well as the many hand painted boards that were procured from various skate related artists.

The collection itself was accumulated over a 30 year period. Many of the decks that came through the warehouse to hit your local skater owned shop was down to the vision of Shiner’s owner Chris Allen who had the foresight to stash one of each classic over the years. This major chunk of skate history, with some rare and highly sought- after boards has been sitting in storage for a number of years and this is the first time that it has been on show anywhere so with the help of Howies, the entire vault of this legendary collection were shown in its entirety.

Following the opening night of the exhibition, Allen reflected on the emotions that ran high saying: ‘We are stoked to be able to share our skateboard archive that we have been saving in our vaults for the past 30 years. After the launch party on Friday night it gave me such a buzz to see how stoked people were to see the boards they first rode when they started skating.’

But it doesn’t end there. To add a contemporary feel to it 27 artists were invited to paint a one-off board to be on show and later auctioned off for the childrens charity UNICEF. Artists involved in this project include Kev Grey, 45RPM, Mr Bowlegs, Andy J Miller, Gavin Strange, Will Barras, Rich T, Ponk, Mr Bingo, Nigel Peake, Nick Hand, Millie Marotta, James Joyce, Nick Hand, Matt Sewell, China Mike, Phil Harvey, Marcus Oakley, Mr Jago, Jim Phillips, Geoff McFetridge, Pete Fowler, French, Chris Bourke, Danny Wainwright, Jethro Haynes and Pete Fowler.

Watch a video of Gavin Strange’s deck art here:

Deckades – A skateboarding painting for Howies from JamFactory on Vimeo.

We caught up with legendary Skateboard artist Jim Phillips who hand painted one of the decks for charity about his involvement in such a good cause…

Shiner has archived so many classic decks over the years- were you aware of just how many of these classics were stored in the vault for a special occasion like this?

I’ve heard about the Shiner collection! I saw some of them for the first time today in the Deckades show photos, and I assume there’s more. It’s great that they were valued and put aside for posterity.

We heard that various pro skaters and artists were blown away to know that their own pro models that they didn’t even have to hand were stored away in England in pristine condition, are there original decks in the vault that you don’t even have on the wall yourself?

There are so many old decks that I don’t possess since I’ve done well over a hundred. When I was running Phillips Studios, Dave Freil would bring over the deck proofs on the first printing so that I could approve them and he’d leave them with me. So, I had a big pile of them out in studio C. Those were the first printings of the first editions, but they were no real big deal because the deck collectors were under the radar just quietly sticking them away. In the mid ‘90s I made a website, mostly to sell my rock posters, but eventually I began to get inquiries from skateboard deck collectors about what I had and whether I would sell them. I received some offers for $400, and let’s face it, there’s times when you need money. I was selling them off for a while until I started to see them for sale on eBay for more than six times what I was selling them for. At that point I decided not to sell any more, and I managed to hang on to a couple of dozen of the first edition decks.

Explain how your one-off deck design for this exhibition came about and the process of the end result.

Paul Merrell at NHS approached me and asked if I would like to contribute to the Deckades show for Haiti relief. At first I was reluctant because Dolly and I had already made a donation, plus I’ve done several painted decks for charity and it always seemed to be a bad experience. The front end promises often do not match the end results. One guy, a major skateboard brand owner even, just kept my submission, and a few others never even got back to me about whatever happened. So I told Paul ‘No’. As we were discussing other projects, I asked “So what’s the deadline on the painted deck?”

I always put my best foot forward and take the extra pains to use high quality hot rod enamels which makes the work much more effort than just using acrylics which are very weak paint with lumpy textures. As I started painting I made a photo documentation of my techniques along the way, to include a CD of 36 steps with the deck. I used body putty to fill the truck holes and serial number stampings, and sanded everything to a smooth finish as my canvas. I used One Shot brand sign painter paints, which take about 8 hours to dry, greatly extending the process and danger of smears. I used a mahl stick to rest my hand so that I could paint next to wet paint and not smear it. I take a lot of precautions like masking off the rails and underside for handling and avoiding transferring paint from my fingers. The beginning layer was the background airbrush fade with the subject hand image masked. After that, the background needs to be masked at all times because it is near impossible to repair damage to a fade gradation.

After all the base colours are applied, I painted the black key-lines, and again, since it is a one step process that involves the complete area it is very difficult to keep from dragging a hand through wet black somewhere. After the paint was dry for 24 hours, I laid down a clear coat spray. This part is very dangerous also because the clear coat can eat and wrinkle the painted areas, which I solved by building up layers of very fine mist until there was adequate coverage to spray a thick matte coat. In all, the work lasted more than 30 hours. I named it “Screaming Hand Cares”.

How important is it to you that these exhibitions have UNICEF involvement?

You know Zac, after all is said and done, I am very grateful to be considered in any way an important part of this effort from the skateboarding world, and I am humbled to do my very small part out of the comfort of my home studio when so many must deal with the devastation that has occurred to people’s homes in these places like Haiti and Chile. I’m thankful to Paul Merrell at Santa Cruz, Chris Allen, Shiner, Mike at Howies, Jerome Loughran, all at Crossfire, UNICEF and the many others who have included me in this worthy and noble effort.

You can bid on Jim’s art and all of the others involved right now at EBAY. Get down to the Howies Store in Bristol to view the exhibition. It is free to get in and open until May 17th.

Deckades skateboard exhibition trailer from howies on Vimeo.