We have been fans of Mark Foster, or as he’s much better known - Fos, for years. Not just as a stand up guy and true legend of the Skateboard industry but also as an incredibly gifted and unique illustrator who’s work has spread far beyond Fos’ humble beginnings in Burnley. From the formative years of Heroin Skateboards based out of New Cross in South East London to Fos’ uproot and transatlantic relocation to the sun basked oasis of Los Angeles a decade ago, we’ve always kept a steady eye on his work and when the opportunity to collaborate with one of our favourite artists came about, we jumped at the chance. We managed to drag Fos away from his work for 5 minutes to chat to him about his career, his highlights and the forthcoming Boardies® collaboration.
Skateboarding and art seem to be the two mainstays of your life so far, what drew you to the pairing that has so greatly steered your journey so far?
Those are the things I’ve always been most passionate about in my life. "People ask me when did you start drawing?” and I find that question so odd, because its something I’ve always done, my mum saved sketchbooks of mine from when i was 4 years old. Skateboarding came later, and has always been a huge part of my life.
You’ve been designing skateboard graphics for some of the biggest names in the industry for decades, how do you keep the fire burning when it comes to creating art? Do you ever suffer from creative block and if so, what breaks you out of that cycle?
Music, coffee, movies. Ideas are in there, but sometimes takes a bit of shaking up to rattle them loose. I grew up in the 80’s with movies about toxic waste, slime, lazers, ninjas and cyborgs. So there’s always plenty to draw on from all of that.
Your graphics have referenced such a broad spectrum of topics over the years, from cult slasher films with Heroin all the way to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with Baker. What has been your favourite graphic series of your career so far?
I like the Toy Machine Arms series, those were the very first graphics I ever had on skateboards, so I’ll go with that series. I also like the Toxic Mutation series that I did for Heroin around 2010.
How did the collaboration with Boardies® come about? And what was the inspiration behind the all-over eye design?
An old friend linked me with the brand, and with us all being skateboarders I was down, I always wanted to do some clothing with the eyeball all over print, we did a board for Heroin years ago. One day I was on the tube headed to the skatepark in Stockwell and a woman was staring at my board, reading every sticker I had, it was kind of rude the way she was overtly staring at my board, so i had the idea to make a board that stared back.
Your illustrative style is so unique and one that is instantly recognisable as your own, which has had a bigger impact on your illustrations, skateboarding, B-movies, or comic books?
I started reading comic books around the same time as I started skating, so they were a both a huge influence.
How does the LA skate scene compare to that of the UK?
I love them both, but I get to skate more here because its sunny nearly every day. I do miss Stockwell park though.
Q.7 - Lastly, and more importantly, Desert Island artist/band….Nick Cave, Tom Waits or Gwar?
Gotta be Tom, sorry Nick.