Coinciding with this year’s international go skateboarding day on the 21st of June we had the pleasure of witnessing the release of OWL skateboards’ latest run of graphics, the ‘Parliament’ series. Alongside this came their first promo video featuring a recognisable variety of household spots from our very own Brighton. We sat down for a chat with Al Hodgson, a key member of the team at OWL to tell us a little more about the new company and it’s direction.
Hi Al how’re you doing? Owl describes itself as a ‘creative collective’. Could you tell us more about the ethos and origins of the company?
Hey man, I’m doing great thanks, enjoying the sunny weather for a change…Basically, OWL was started by Stefan Darque, a good Bristol-based friend of mine, as an alternative approach to supporting artists through skateboarding and vice versa. OWL’s aim is to act like a skateboard based, art printing company; treating boards as artist’s ‘prints’ and giving them a cut of every board sold as opposed to a flat payment for a graphic series. Consequently, a strong focus is put on the artist and other creative endeavours, moving away from a more conventional ‘team rider’ approach. We’ve still got skateboarders involved in the company and riding the boards, but they are more part of the collective; representing us and contributing to the creative direction of the company as a whole.
We’re not the only ones who seem to love the new ‘Parliament’ series graphics. How did your collaboration with the artist Mike Nicholson come about?
‘Rough’ Mike has been a good friend of mine for the past few years now through skating in Brighton. He’s done a bunch of artwork in the past collaborating with board companies; doing a lot of the early Heroin graphics as well as a bunch of other projects, so he’s no stranger to it. His work’s intricate and rad and it really fit the aesthetics we were aiming for, so he was just the natural choice for this series. I fully recommend people check his stuff out, he’s the man.
The illustrations themselves are great, did you have that direction in mind beforehand or was there input from everybody?
Well there was a fair amount of discussion between Stefan and I from the start about the graphic direction to take the first run and what was decided on took a while to refine. But the inspiration basically came from aged reference books and ornithological encyclopaedias from the early and mid 20th century; with the intricate black and white drawings you would often have beside passages of text or information about a particular species. It’s a dated style of drawing you just don’t really see anymore and so we thought incorporating that into board graphics would look rad. We ended up buying a bunch of old books for aesthetic reference and once we’d decided on a structure for the graphics, we approached Mike to see what his take on the idea would be.
The promo video ‘Nocturnis’ as well as all the photos we’ve seen so far are shot at night. How does that tie in with the theme of the company?
A big part of OWL’s aesthetic is that all our visual content will be at night to adhere to the majoritively nocturnal nature of owls themselves. Owls hunt for prey under cover of darkness and in a similar respect we ‘hunt’ amongst architecture. I’ve always been inspired by groups like the Minuit movement and had an affinity to the alternate vibe created by nocturnal side of skateboarding, so Stefan and I felt that would be an apt approach to take the visual element of OWL.
What’s the next step for OWL? Are we going to see any collaboration with new artists in the near future?
As of now we’re just pushing this series and getting OWL a little more recognised, and we’ve had a bunch of support from all sorts of cool places, which we’re super grateful for.
In terms of the future though, we’ll be working on a bunch of new video projects in the coming months and we’ve already started work on our next run which we’re really excited about. We’ll be collaborating with a new artist and working with a very different style, but as of now it’s all still undisclosed…
Don’t forget to check out OWL skateboards on Facebook and Instagram for more information on where to grab one of these rapidly selling boards. We’re looking forward to seeing them launch into what we foresee to be a bright future as a fresh face in the ever-growing industry that is skateboarding.
You can pick up one of the new boards at the following stockists;
For more information contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Owl ‘Parliament’ series
Words: James P.Lees
Imagery courtesy of Owl Skateboards