The (He)Art of Skateboarding
Oakley and The Art Dump Celebrate LA's Skate Heritage
Los Angeles is a city that thrives on original thinking. Whether a movie director or musician, an athlete or an entrepreneur, it's a place that rewards those who are willing to follow their own path. Skateboarders, from the beginning, have been non-conformists. They've never needed direction or a blueprint. They've always looked at the landscape – be it a parking lot, an elementary school or the planters outside a courthouse – and reacted. They improvise and progress. There were never any guidelines for what skateboarding was or what it would become, that was left to be decided on by those willing to take the risks and figure out what was possible.
And so it started on a wood plank with roller skate wheels. And it grew. Slowly at first, with a couple strange tangents (see the '70s, pre Z-Boys), but it eventually discovered an identity. Depending on where you were from in Los Angeles, your style and preferences were varied. The spot you skated influenced the skateboarder and the person you became.
To celebrate the heritage of skateboarding in the City of Angels, we went to some of the finest creative minds and illustrators in the culture, the collective crew over at Girl Skateboards known as The Art Dump. Eight seminal skate spots were identified and the artists were tasked with translating the spot, its history, its character into a symbol of that spot, a flag. Those flags hung above a pop-up skate park and studio in West Hollywood – Oakley In Residence: Los Angeles. A place designed by skaters for skaters, in the heart of LA.
Gardner by Eric Anthony
This ingenious logo uses a “G” for Gardner to create a side-profile of the school’s famous skate obstacle: a lunch table. The colorful geometric bar inspired by the school's playground and identity represents the spot's energy. And yes, Gardner Elementary School is where Michael Jackson went to school. Chalk this one up to fancy footwork – on and off the board.
Hollywood High by Andy Mueller
This megalithic monument has broken boards and bruised egos. It’s a proving ground that sends people packing. As a tribute to the huge sets of stairs, Andy Mueller dug into the details and created a flag that looks like it was torn straight out of a student’s scrapbook. His inventive use of the school’s initials “HH” bookend the “16” to create the word H16H, honoring the high school and its stairs.
Lockwood by Carlos M. Gutierrez
Well known for good times but also the occasional dangerous run-in, the Lockwood flag represents the spots' checkered history. The rose suggests the playground's allure, but as perfect as Lockwood is, it’s a dangerous spot too; that dynamic is represented by the playground’s symbolic overlord.
Los Angeles High School by Jeremy Carnahan
“Always A Hill, Always A Tower, Always A Timepiece” is an age-old saying representing one of the first schools in Southern California. The saying exemplifies the school’s physical location and architecture, honoring the importance of schools in the community. By adding the zip code and wall-ride marks, the message also translates to skateboarding.
Pink Motel by Nick Zegel
Inspired by California mid-century and minimalist design, Nick Zegel harkens back to when the Pink Motel was founded in the 1950s. The flag’s simple color-blocking represents the motel’s iconic pool featured in the 1987 skateboard film The Search for Animal Chin.
Santa Monica Triple-Set by Chris Waycott
The Santa Monica Triple-Set is famous within skateboarding for the size and destruction that it caused. Unbeknownst and ironically, the architects adorned the stairs with a serpent to represent the wrath of the ocean. Chris Waycott added the iconic lighthouse to symbolize its location to sailors and skateboarders.
Santa Monica Courthouse by Nate Hooper
This iconic skate spot of the early 1990s became a place of prejudice and mistreatment at the turn of the century. Thanks to responsible activism, the freedom bell was rung, and the Santa Monica Courthouse now stands as the world’s most liberated skate spot.
Wilshire by Andy Jenkins
The design of Andy Jenkins’ flag pays homage to the famous Wilshire handrail. To the naked eye, this looks like a red striped flag, but to any skateboarder, they’ll recognize the unique rail shape and support beams. The color red pays tribute to the death of the rail that was removed in 2011.