The following four artists are living the dream of many up-and-comers, they’re doin’ it. Practice, persistence, and admittedly knowing the right people, have allowed these talented individuals to extend their artistic reach into and onto board graphics. Veterans Nick Russian and Scott Lenhardt prove that there’s long-term career opportunity in the field, and “Pinski” and HumanFive reveal that there’s still room for new kids on the block like you?.
The creations of Humanfive’s Simon Redekop and Mike Swaney began appearing as board graphics with the help of their friend Jason Brown, who happened upon their artwork around the streets and galleries of Vancouver, British Columbia. Their studio is in the house they share with Tyler Lepore who describes the setting as a “beautiful mess of plywood desks piled with cloth, T-shirts, different types of fabric, stuffing, a mixture of scrap wood, a tub of varnish, wallpaper glue, two computers, and more junk-which leaves about one square foot each to work with.”
When they’re not sticking beans to a canvas or avoiding smoke-filled bars, Mike likes to spray paint, and hunt for frogs and tadpoles, while Simon eats all of the fruit, plays sports, and absorbs UV rays.
Names: Humanfive-Simon Redekop and Mike Swaney
Schooled: Studied Graphic Design and Illustration at Capilano College in Vancouver, B.C., Canada
Home: Vancouver, B.C., Canada
Significant graphic: Voytek from the Capita Human Series ’02/03
Number of Graphics: Eight
Mediums: Pens, latex, found wood, metal, fabric, lace, wallpapers, baby clothes, beans, et cetera.
How it all began: We met Jason Brown and started doing the paintings for the 2001/2002 Human Series.
The details: We work independently and collectively on illustrations, paintings, design projects, and gallery shows. Instead of competing against each other, it made more sense to co-operate. Together, we conceptualization and constructed the characters and designs for all of Capita’s ’03 Series.
Listen up: Be sure to stand up for yourself and get a written contract before submitting sketches.
Influences: Each other.
It may take more than balls and a good stencil to make your mark in the art world, but don’t tell that to Tim Karpinski-he doesn’t give a f-k. His disdain for mediocrity makes Pinski a true artist. Painstaking self-criticism and a dogged servitude to the craft assure his future standing among the great, demented masters, like Schiele and Pushead. Right now, he’s getting his education-raging with the boys from dirty Jersey, chasing chicks, and learning how to drink beer. Watch out.
Name: Tim Karpinski, a.k.a. Pinski
Occupation: Student, art director at Eastern Edge, and CEO ofPinski Designs
Schooled: Currently a junior at Castleton State College studying art, painting, and graphic design
Home: Rutland, Vermont-but grew up in Jersey
Significant graphic: Gnu Danny Kass Kasskit series 158. If you watch Evil Dead you can see where I got the cross for the gravestone on the topsheet of the ’58.
Number of graphics: Six
Mediums: I use a lot of spray paint, paint markers, enamel, and ballpoint pens.
How it all began: Danny Kass asked me to work on his graphics when he got his first pro model-we grew up together and he always liked my work. I’ve been working on his boards ever since then.
The details: I pretty much do most of the conceptualization and designs for Danny-I’m getting more and more involved as I keep working and learning the process. It’s fun to experiment, and that’s how your work progresses.
Listen up: Draw a lot every day; go to school and listen; read; research; lock yourself in a room with pencils, pens, and paper; send your work to companies; and try to hang out with big-name pros.
Influences: I’m super stoked on Humanfive and Jason Brown, Phil Frost, Twist, Scott Lenhardt, Ed Templeton, Mikee Parillo-I’m influenced by everyone around me.
A veteran of the board-graphic business, Scott Lenhardt weighs in with a hefty 29 Burton graphics since his start with Shannon Dunn’s pro model in ’97. The prolific recluse continues to find inspiration in the mundane details around him: a conversation, a leaf, The Simpsons, and in the case of one of Ross Powers’ pro models-Ping-Pong.Scott busies himself painting murals, designing tattoo art, and creating window displays for Barneys New York. He is currently working on the Omen Series ’04 and potentially the Fish and Powers, too. His goal is to create something fresh and new. “I work hard at trying to surprise myself and to have a good time,” Scott says. “It’s all about the good times.”
Name: Scott Lenhardt
Occupation: Artist, musician, uncle
Schooled: B.F.A. in printmaking from the Portland School Of Art in Portland, Maine
Home: Winooski, Vermont
Significant graphic: ’01 Burton Dragon “Tree Of Death”
Number of graphics: 29
Mediums: Acrylic paint on a thin piece of wood or paper. I’ve also worked with charcoal, pen and ink, and my favorite-the airbrush. There is nothing more satisfying than a good airbrush session in my dad’s body shop.
The details: My involvement depends on the project. Usually, I get an assignment from the designers and riders, and I try to interpret their vision-then I get down to business. Once the art is complete, I bring it to the design building where they transfer it into their computer machines and make it happen.
Listen up: My advice is to draw as much as possible. Draw every day. Let it take over and be what you do. Don’t be afraid to bug companies with your stuff-if they like it, they’ll use it.
Influences: Jim Phillips, known for his rock posters and surf and skateboard art for Santa Cruz.
Nick Russian has grown up with Mervin Manufacturing-the makers of Lib Technologies and Gnu-and so has his art. When he wasn’t busy chasing “apple-butts” around Crystal mountain, he manned a desk at the fledgling snowboard brand’s world headquarters in Seattle when Mervin Mfg. was just a little pea in the undeveloped pod of snowboarding. Nick designed and created the Emma Peel series, and hand-painted each one in the beginning. It’s possible, that if you’ve got an old E.P., you have a Russian original. These days Nick’s more likely to be found cruising his bike than his snowboard. “I’ve probably already ridden more than one person could in a lifetime,” he admits. Nick keeps a close eye on the sport, art, and industry from his own world headquarters on the Washington coast, where he goes on creating Lib Tech graphics.
Name: Nick Russian
Occupation: Mike’s Bikes, tuning and repairing bicycles
Home: Port Angeles, Washington
Significant graphic: The Emma Peel ski-racer
Number of graphics: Twelve
How it all began: It was the classic situation-a new company with only a few employees. The company uses an employee’s artwork for various promotions, and eventually has employee create artwork for one of its graphics. The ’92 Emma Peel was my first board graphic-it was a photo collage that was silk-screened orange and black.
Inspiration: Everything. Other art and artists, cultures, nature, magazines, fashion, beauty, ugliness-you name it.
Listen up: Do the art for yourself, get to know influential people, give them some of your artwork if they like it, and get paid.
Influences: So many people have influenced my art, but my friend Scott Stamnes gets the most credit. He could draw beautifully distorted, flowing images. He had his own style, and I aspired to be like that.