Ever since the rise of the popularity of skateboard designs and the skateboarding subculture for that matter, having a uniquely customized board has been an essential ingredient to every skateboard lover. For years and years, board lovers have been decorating their decks in a true DIY manner until the companies have realized just how important it is for their customers to have something one of a kind that makes them stand out from the crowd. One of the leading brands in the world of skateboard designs is Supreme, a store which grew from a small shop on Lafayette Street in Manhattan to the embodiment of the skater culture, and the brand which dictates the fashion of punk, hip-hop, and skater subculture. Known for their collaborations with various artists, Supreme is now to skater subculture what Chanel is to the world of fashion, which, of course, did not escape our keen eye. Thus, we are bringing you our picks of the 10 most awesome skateboard designs from this iconic brand.
Editor’s Tip: James Jebbia - Supreme
If you are interested in reading more about the fascinating world of skateboard designs, we recommend this book. Since the seventies were known for album covers, the nineties had ‘zines, the decades of today have the unusual, but equally important skateboard deck designs. With skateboarding being one of the most popular extreme sports nowadays, the interest in the graphics on the decks has grown exponentially. Since the opening of Supreme store on Lafayette Street in 1994, the brand has become an epitome of street art and skate culture. Over the last twenty-two years, Supreme had stayed true to its aesthetic roots while collaborating with the most pioneering artists and designers including KAWS, Raymond Pettibon, Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, Richard Prince, as well as Public Enemy, Lou Reed and Futura 2000. This monograph was written with contributions from Aaron Bondaroff and Glenn O’Brien, and it brings a comprehensive index of Supreme products, as well as the examples of their iconic collaborations.
We have already written about the collaboration between the New York-based artist KAWS and Supreme, but, nevertheless, he was an inevitable choice for this top 10 list. Back in 2001, KAWS has designed a limited edition collection of boards, creating a simple, yet, iconic design. Since then, these boards have been sought after, but since only 150 pieces were made, they are very hard to obtain. No wonder, since the combination of KAWS and Supreme is the epitome of street culture. The lucky visitors of Art Basel in Miami in 2013 could have obtained the deck for around $5,800 per piece.
For the 20th anniversary of his iconic film Kids, the Tulsa-born director, photographer, producer, and writer Larry Clark has designed a set of skateboards for Supreme. The director is best known for his controversial films such as the aforementioned Kids and Ken Park, which is, in your author’s humble opinion, one of the weirdest and most brilliant movies of the generation. He is also the director of Chris Isaak’s music video Solitary man and the author of the photography book Tulsa. Larry Clark was the perfect match for Supreme’s skateboard designs since he explores the surfing, punk rock and skater subcultures.
Robert Longo is a Brooklyn-born American painter and sculptor whose works depict deep emotions, simultaneously primitive and self-conscious. He is most famous for his 1980s series Men in the Cities which portrayed smartly dressed men and women squirming in distorted emotion. His at the same time sculpturesque and photographic images are made using graphite-like clay, molded and layered to depict the depth of human emotion. Having exhibited his works all over the world, he is often regarded as one of the most influential and significant artists of our time. In 2011, he has designed a series of three limited edition skateboard designs for Supreme.
Peter Saville is an English graphic designer and an art director who came to prominence by designing record sleeves for Factory Records. The most iconic record sleeve designs he made are those for Joy Division and New Order. The artist has produced designs for his fashion clients, including Jil Sander, John Galliano, Christian Dior, and Stella McCartney, to name a few. He has also designed the England football team home shirt. His skateboard designs for Supreme include the iconic Joy Division-esque print, a must have for the lovers of this post-punk band. The deck collection was produced as a commemoration for the 25th anniversary of the death of Joy Division frontman, Ian Curtis.
Jeff Koons is an American artist best known for his work in the field of popular culture and his reproductions of banal objects. His work can be described as Neo Pop art. The ex Wall Street broker’s work often utilizes cartoonish imagery, and his sculptures of balloon animals produced in stainless steel have been sold for substantial sums of money. Koons himself has stated that his works do not carry hidden meanings. His collaboration with Supreme in 2006 brings his iconic monkey imagery with surreal background on a series of skateboard decks. The boards are whimsical and colorful, just like the rest of Koons’ works, and therefore, Jeff Koons X Supreme takes the median space on our top 10 list of skateboard designs.
Jake and Dinos Chapman are English visual artists known as Chapman Brothers who produce deliberately shocking art. The siblings are a part of the Young British Artists movement and their works are often described as offensive, controversial, and vulgar. In 2008, the brothers have appropriated original watercolors by Adolf Hitler to which they had added hippie motifs, and their work also carries references to William Blake’s art, as well as the creations of Auguste Rodin and Nicolas Poussin. Their oeuvre features mutilated and decapitated bodies, along with pornographic themes, as well as themes of death, religion, commercialism, sex, and Nazism. Their collaboration with Supreme back in 2012 brought a series of five limited edition skateboard designs.
Takashi Murakami is a world-renowned Japanese contemporary artist who works in the fields of painting and sculpture, as well as fashion, merchandise, and animation. He has coined the term Superflat, through which he interprets modern culture, erasing the lines between high and low arts. This theory proposes that the 2-dimensional imagery used in manga and anime has influenced the western art scene more than critics and artists are ready to admit. Murakami investigates the bond between East and West, and fine art, pop culture, and mass media. In his collaboration with Supreme, Takashi Murakami has produced skateboard designs for three decks, which carry his distinctive style of somewhat psychedelic, whimsical, cartoonish design. The brand and the artist have released the limited edition series in 2007.
Richard Prince is an American painter and photographer best known for his practice of re-photography – appropriating existing works previously made by other artists. He began his practice in 1975 and has since continued his criticism on consumer culture. He was a major player in the New Wave scene, playing in bands and becoming involved in the field of conceptual art. Having very little experience with photography, Prince has re-presented the images found in various advertisements during his time in Time magazine. A copyright infringement suit has been filed against Prince by a photographer Patrick Cariou, whose works were wrongfully appropriated in Prince’s Canal Zone exhibition at the Gagosian gallery. In 2007, Richard Prince has produced two exclusive skateboard designs for Supreme, the first presenting an abstract character on white background, and the second depicting a laser etching of a skull-bunny on a black background.
Our beloved punk rock icon Raymond Pettibon and his skateboard designs for Supreme is number 2 on our top 10. An American artist known for his posters and album art, influenced by William Blake and Goya, an artist whose versatile oeuvre is the true epitome of a punk-rock and hippie scene has managed to portray the essence of American youth culture. The themes he often addresses in his art are literature, sexuality, politics, religion, sports, and the overall decay of marginalized youth. Other motives include surfers, baseball players, suicidal and homicidal teenagers, Charles Manson, and Gumby, the cartoon figure. In collaboration with Supreme, a small collection of items including two decks were released featuring the artwork of Raymond Pettibon in 2014.
And the first place on our awesome top 10 list is (drumrolls) Damien Hirst! A British artist born in Bristol is the most prominent member of the Young British Artists. And no wonder, since Hirst is internationally renowned, and apparently, the UK’s richest living artist. His works are centered around the theme of death, and he came to prominence with a series of works depicting dead animals preserved in formaldehyde. His 1991 artwork The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, consisting of a tiger shark preserved in formaldehyde in a vitrine has become a symbol of Young British Artists around the world. The collaboration between Supreme and Damien Hirst in 2009 has featured a set of decks designed by the artist. Three decks were signed by Hirst and featured his Spin paintings, made at random on a spinning surface.