Ten years of British skateboarding in deck graphics

Ten years of British skateboarding in deck graphics

Parlour Presents… Science Skateboards — An exhibition at Parlour Presents… is celebrating almost ten years of Science Skateboards. Founder Chris Morgan gives us the lowdown on all that's gone down.

Science is one of the UK’s oldest skateboard brands.

Established, officially, in 2006 by vet of the British scene Chris Morgan – who has been skating for over 25 years – Science Skateboards has weathered a tumultuous time in the industry and come out the other side even more committed to its standards of quality and originality.

As an established filmer/photographer and graphic designer, Chris has steered the creative direction of Science, keeping it close to the spirit of the ’90s, which is close to his heart, and collaborating with breakout artists like Stevie Gee and Michael Sieben to take things to the next level.

A retrospective of almost a decade of decks is currently on show at Parlour Presents… – a gallery space at the back of Parlour Skate Store in Shoreditch, London – so we caught up with Chris to get a bit of a low-down on the last 3652 days of skateboarding in the UK.

Almost a decade of decks. What have been your favourites?
Every time I unload that lorry and open the boxes to see the new boards in the flesh for the first time, I always think that they’re my new favourites. But looking back through them all now there’s still a lot that I really like. Isaac Mckay Randozzi’s graphic killed it for me. I think the skaters that know the classic ’90s videos will pick up on the concept behind that graphic. Definitely a homage graphic to purer times and classic moments in skate history. And both the Shawn Whisenant graphics too – Shawn was an amazingly talented full-time artist out in San Francisco that I became friends with during visits there. Those two board graphics will always be pretty special to me. Shawn and I were very similar people in terms of attitude, we got on real well. RIP Shawn. Matthew Green’s ‘Cat Waterfall’ graphic is still so good. That board actually got a lot of people laid believe it or not. Heard many stories haha… I will only produce boards that I’m into, even if the profit margins are low due to the extra print colours etc. It’s definitely a labour of love rather than a typical approach. I feel blessed to have worked with so many artists whose work I rate so highly.

How do you decide what artists to work with?
There’s no set pattern really. I just need to feel a connection to the artist’s work and that’s how it starts. Once I’ve talked to them and feel that their style and approach connects then it’s on, even better if we click as people… I have a pretty focused direction, I look for artists that complement that. I like it to be natural, not forced. I don’t shmooze and try to get to know whatever artist is flavour of the moment – I really dislike those types of people in skateboarding who show no interest in knowing you until they realise what you do and that you can help their careers. It’s nasty. My aim has always been to produce skateboard graphics, not graphics that get put on a skateboard. I think there’s a big difference between the two.

How do you think British skateboarding has changed in the last ten years?
It seems to have grown a great deal. Lots more people into it for the wrong reasons these days though which is strange for me because I come from a much older generation where being a skateboarder was seen as weird and definitely not a cool thing to be doing. Back then being a skater was a good enough reason to get a beating from local idiots just for being different, now it seems some people skate to gain acceptance. Total turnaround. There are a lot more parks appearing, people are getting good fast because of them, it’s rad. But then the problem with all these parks popping up is that people get stuck at them endlessly and barely skate the streets. That sucks because street skating is where the richness lies.

There seems to be a lot more diversity in skateboarding and creativity is fully at the forefront again, things are good in that respect. People of all ages are skating and killing it. I like where it’s at right now, even though there’s a lot of weak vanilla stuff out there that does the industry no favours. Everyone should do exactly what they want to do though I think regardless. Lots of really good small brands and magazines doing great things. I’m stoked on a lot of things at the moment. Blast Skates are doing it right. Stoked on them. Loads of strong independent underground videos coming out constantly too.

The best thing about skateboarding that never changes no matter what is just going skateboarding. That will always be the same, no matter how much the industry changes. Going skateboarding is the bit I’m into the most by far, it’s what I’m hooked on and that hasn’t changed for decades.

What still keeps you excited about doing Science?
I’ve been a skateboarder for the vast majority of my life. I leaned towards creativity at an early age like most kids probably but never lost interest. These things have been a constant in my life. Working on developing the company since it’s official start in 2006 and seeing it progress without stagnating fuels me too. Not forgetting that it’s taken some minor and major hits along the way. Skateboarding teaches us to never give up and keep on trying till you nail it. I’m like a rhino in that way, you can’t break my focus as far as the company goes.

Ultimately it’s my aim to develop my own creativity and skill-set through building the company and it’s output whilst hopefully inspiring others at the same time. I always push myself to progress and put in full effort always, it keeps me going. I’m not a party head or anything, I pretty much just work till the early hours and skate every day when possible.

Worst things about working in skateboarding?
Politics and bullshit, fakers, cool guy attitudes, slackness, cliques and closed doors, constant excuses and the problems caused.

Plans for the future?
New boards are due to arrive in a month or two. Worked with some great artists on this series, I’m really into them, could be my new favourites. Along with the release of our first full-length video The Important Nothing sometime this year. We are counting down to the filming deadline right now. There will most likely be some premieres organised for that.

Pete Buckley has been filming a lot with Abe from AFC Sapporo crew out in Japan since moving there – they should be bringing out his first edit in the not-so-distant future. It looks dope from what I’ve seen. All filmed at night on the streets of Sapporo. We have a new addition to the team to announce too. He’s rad – a creative, level-headed guy and accomplished. This is definitely a good thing for the company. Keep an eye out over the next few months I guess, there’s a lot of things being worked on right now.

The Science Skateboards retrospective is at Parlour Presents… gallery in Shoreditch, London, until the end of April.