Boardies® talks with legendary American Artist, Don Pendleton
1. Tell us about the time in your life when skateboarding and art first came together? What was the scene like back then?
I was into art from the age where I could hold a crayon because my parents were pretty creative people. My dad used to paint at the kitchen table so I grew up watching him and trying to do it myself. Skateboarding came around after a family vacation to Virginia Beach when I was about 14 years old. I think after I got my first issue of Thrasher, I was drawn to the board graphics and the culture, the music they featured in the magazine. All of that was in stark contrast to growing up in a kind of isolated, smaller rural town. So from about the age of 14 on, that was pretty much all I did was skate. Being in a small town, there were 2 other skaters...pre-internet...so everything was processed through magazines and that's why they were so influential and instrumental...seeing coverage of the pros, new graphics, etc...without magazines, we'd have never seen any of that stuff.
2. Boardies® love all the geometric shapes and angled lines in your art. How much does architecture influence your design inspiration?
Quiet a bit. I think most of my influences are from bugs and animals just because there are so many variations in how they're 'designed.' In terms of shape and form, as a kid I used to watch animals and birds and see how they moved and functioned so you start to take notes of all the specific character and details. As I got older, I really liked modern architecture and ended up living in a mid-century modern home that was inspired Mies van der Rohe. From a designer aspect, when you look at mid-century modern work, it's a good reminder that you don't need a lot of excessive details. Sometimes the more simple and basic design is, the more functional it is. Obviously not everyone's cup of tea but as busy as my work can get, I do my best to eliminate unnecessary lines and colors.
3. We are big fans of Pearl Jam. What were you doing when you first heard their music and how did you end up doing artwork for them?
Their bassist (Jeff Ament) is a skateboarder who had collected some of my paintings over the years. He knew my work from skateboarding and eventually contacted me to use a painting on the cover of a solo album that he did. A few years later, the band was working on a new album (Lighting Bolt) and Jeff emailed me about doing a logo to tie in the name and the fact that it was their 10th studio album. And that just eventually led to working on the artwork and cover together.
I remember when they first started getting a lot of attention...I was in college and Ten was super popular and then VS...so most of my memories from listening to them was from those years when music was changing in some pretty significant ways and I spent a lot of time in bars seeing live bands and being exposed to new music. I have a ton of respect for all of the guys in the band and particularly Jeff who has been instrumental in building skateparks throughout Montana, his home state.
4. You have worked on some high profile collaborations over the years. What are some of your favourite ones that stand out?
I've been really fortunate to have worked with a lot of great brands and companies during my career. Honestly, I've never had one that I regretted. They're all different in their own ways. Some know exactly what they want and others just say, 'do whatever you like.' I think people assume that larger companies are more difficult to work with and those are the projects where you lose some of your soul but honestly, I've worked with some big brands that gave me complete creative control so that's kind of a misconception. As an artist, you just have to be very cautious when the project is laid out, who you work with directly and look for red flags. So when I say that I've never had a collaboration that I've regretted, I've backed out of quite a few over the years when it just wasn't developing naturally or didn't feel like it would 'fit.' I had a good agent for a while who taught me a lot about what questions to ask and what to look for in terms of creative control and protecting my name.
5. Currently the whole world is on Lock Down and our team is quarantined. What has Lock Down looked like for you and how have you managed to stay creative?
Strangely, kind of normal. I haven't driven my car since March 2nd so I've been holed up in my house but I've also been able to walk, work in the yard and skate around the neighborhood some. I was well stocked up on supplies from those first weeks.
It's a horrible situation...the fatalities continue to climb and some states are overwhelmed in hospitals, shortages of medical supplies and that kind of thing. Over 55,000 Americans have died, the medical community has been hammered and just trying to keep people alive in some states, we're inching toward 1 million confirmed infections while some Americans are barking at the moon because they cannot go out and get a haircut or sit down in a restaurant.
It's really exposed some of the best and some of the worst in people.
I am used to spending most of my time in my house but there are parts of normalcy that I miss. I've been working almost exclusively on Darkroom, the upcoming summer and fall season graphics, products, managing the production and sampling.
I still work at least 8 hours per day most days either on Darkroom or sketching or painting but I also watch movies, play guitar and read. So while my life hasn't changed a whole lot, it's pretty heartbreaking to realize how many people have been affected by the virus and to what extent.
Check out Don Pendleton's brand Darkroom - https://drkrminc.com
END- Thanks for reading!