Hi Adam, hope your well. Can you please introduce yourself and tell us how The Drawing Boards came about?
Easy, my names AD, I’m a skateboarder, artist, workaholic, frustrated hippy, dad and human if that’s possible.
Drawing Boards came about some 10 years ago, a friend of mine Si and I had been making clothes for 5 years first and we had a cult following. Being skateboarders and knowing that there were plenty of dudes needing exposure we started a skateboard company with the belief and passion to make it work.
Your artwork seems to have a very specific look and feel to it – do you oversee most of the art direction yourself? Where do you stand on the individual design vs branded board graphic debate?
I do draw all the graphics…but I don’t go blindly into it. We generally float ideas about before starting the design process. In setting up the company I wanted the riders to be open minded people, so it’s cool running stuff by them and getting reactions that aren’t just “that’s shit” or “that’s rad”. I like the idea of getting the best out of a concept rather than me just thinking I know it all and rushing haha. An example would be Jak Tonge’s pro deck – we went deep on that one, lots of phone calls and drafts before it actually emerged as you see it in print. The ‘Potions’ was another one where we all contributed ideas for the labels on the bottles.
As for logo branding, not really into it on decks, seems to easy…it’s an honour to create a graphic you know kids are going to be stoked on. To be fair we just want to make stuff we are stoked on and then hopefully others will be too. I’m not into the whole slagging other companies off thing, wasted energy .
Some of your board designs (specifically the Awareness series) have been motivated by a social or environmental conscience. The debates around ethical shopping and environmental issues aren’t something which always garners much attention within skateboarding – for example, most skateboarders I know wouldn’t think to look for palm oil when stocking up on snack fuel for the session. Can you tell us a little about the series?
Yep sure, it was something my partner said to me that inspired the idea; “You’ve got a platform, why not use it?” From that the awareness series was born. I just think half the battle to educate people is to make them aware. Although a single board graphic will not necessarily save the orangutans it has definitely spread the news of palm oil. You know how it goes, someone learns something and they pass it on…Positive ripples mate…
Who do you find influences you from within the skateboarding graphic world? And what about outside artistic influences?
When I was growing up I used to draw all the time, I’d always have a sketch pad. We didn’t have a TV so I used to get really inspired by kid’s story books. The Cat in the Hat, Never Tease a Weasel, Ginger Meggs etc. I had some crazy looking fairy tale books too. Later when I started skating in the early 90’s New Deal was a big company and I was always stoked on Andy Howell graphics, also can’t really front on Jim Phillips etc…Amazing artists for sure!!
The Drawing Boards has been around for a few years now, plenty of time to witness the rise of the smaller and for want of a better term ‘bedroom’ skate companies in the last few years. Where do you stand on these smaller brands appearing, and how tough is it to survive as a brand without outside backing?
Drawing Boards is 10 years deep!! There’s more companies than ever now, it almost feels like it’s over saturated – a logo and an Instagram clip should not equal a company haha. People think it’s all diamonds and guns, but it’s more like passion and graft haha.
There’s been many companies both big and small which have come and gone since we started. I guess in a way it kinda works in our favour for certain things; like us calling the shops as an established brand makes it easier to get respect. The thing is everyone has to start somewhere and skaters have always had a DIY culture. Not into the culture vultures though, you know, guys who don’t skate or the middle aged mall grabber who has just started with a bit of money and is jumping on the wagon… Skateboarding should be run by skateboarders. That’s my stance haha.
Liam Teague – front board. Photo by Kris Vile
The Drawing Boards is based in the South East, which to my mind (and not counting London itself) has always had less in the way of easily accessible spots than some other parts of the country. Obviously this doesn’t apply so much around Croydon, but do you find yourself travelling further to film, or enjoying the challenge of the rural street hunt when in deepest darkest Sussex?
We get it done haha. Basically I’m lucky to have such a rad team, we usually have a rough plan to go to an area and always leave with something.The South Coast is actually amazing for spots – the boys and myself have searched spots out over the years and we always keep an eye out so we are never too short on spots . We just rack it up and release it when we feel it does us justice. Jak and I are both dads which is the primary thing so a lot of the time things take longer to get done, but yep trips are generally a great way to get footage.
On the other side of the coin, Sussex and the surrounding areas have seen an explosion in concrete parks in the last few years – can you give us your top five?
Ohh tough ummmm…… A lot of the time the people make the spot for me haha…but going on physical attributes I’d say;
The Level (when it’s chill)
Woodingdean – Always chiller, close to my house, nice view and I can take my nipper
Fareham – New park, good laugh, good dudes. PJ, Jak and Ash turn that place out!!
Crawley – Fond memories of this place over the years, maybe not the best layout but still good for the crack
Peacehaven – Good new park , quirky so you can spend some time there
Maybe…but then again maybe not. I have a good time at most places to be fair.
I know you have been involved in backing the Hastings 1066 jam for the last couple of years – most people I know who have been have some kind of story of ending up in a strange, drunken situation after the event as it’s a strange and sordid space. Any stories to tell from the Royston Vasey of the South East?
Just had to google Royston Vasey, not having a telly I had no idea haha.
There are so many stories from trips with Drawing Boards, we were saying the other day that a lot of them couldn’t be printed. Basically we sleep rough a fair bit and generally our plans are so vague something ridiculous will always happen. Sticking with the Hastings theme though; at the last Hastings comp Jak was sleep deprived that morning so he decided to put unleaded into a diesel car. Unaware we headed to the comp and inevitably we broke down a fair distance from the park. Jak’s warm up was basically hacking blindly to the park on a hangover, with me trying to keep up. He ended up winning the comp on arrival along with a load of money which all ended up going on sorting out the motor. Got a lot of love for that bar steward!!
Jak Tonge – feeble shuv out
2012’s full length ‘Draw the Line’ turned quite a few heads, for me evoking classic UK video vibes through spot choice, music, editing etc. – as your first full video, how did you find the process of putting it all together?
The editing process was pretty full on. It was a joint effort with myself and Liam Teague to bring it to life, I think we definitely “bonded” during its creation haha. We are both fairly stubborn when we are sure of something, so a bit of push and pull made it what it is . We wanted it to look interesting so that it wasn’t just trick/music format. I wanted people who don’t skate to be able to sit through it without falling asleep. Like I said I’m a big fan of ideas so we tried to keep it interesting and unique.
Music wise, I remember when I was a tot music on skate vids had a big impact on my musical taste. So I generally wanted the music to be of a quality but not necessarily “known”. My mate Si helped with a lot of the music choice (Big up yaself).
Spot wise I was keen to make the whole thing street to make things aesthetically look more interesting. We tried to visit plenty of lesser seen spots round England, a lot of which were on the South Coast. When we visited the Czech Republic we skated some rad little towns instead of rushing to Stalin Square, that was a great little trip . We also hit up a few better known spots in Barca and Berlin to finish it off.
Your company’s section from Brighton scene video ‘Acquisition’ was recently made available online, how did you become involved in this project and can you tell us a bit about the video?
Yep sure, so this is Liam Teague’s latest love child. I have a lot of responsibilities lately and the idea of starting another full length video was too much, so when Teague suggested it I was down. He had been filming on and off for a while and had slowly been gathering a sick backlog of footage. I filmed a fair bit for the vid too so was involved in it and the direction of the Drawing Boards part but Liam was the man who went truly balls deep to make it happen.
Crowded commission wall
You have an Aussie connection in Ivan Vargas, as well as a distribution deal out there – how did this come about?
Well it happened years ago, I have Australian roots and when I went out there my cousin Donny who skates was keen to be involved. I took a few years to get it together, but now it’s going well and the boys do demos all over the south Coast. Ivan Vargas is amazing, I wanted to put him on the radar so people not just in Brisbane know how ridiculous his skills are.
What’s next for the team with regards to trips or videos?
Hoping to get a South of France trip sorted for the end of the year to stay with Louis Antoine, so that could well be the start of something haha. He is pretty uncontactable living without internet at the moment but I’m sure we will sort it…Louis if you’re reading this, give me a shout fella!!
Got a few quirky little ideas in the plan to, but you’ll have to wait and see.
While I’m here can I just say a massive thanks to all the team, the shops for stocking us and to my family for their support. Jah Bless!!