A few months back my local skatepark (The Park, Subvert) were running a competition to design their next shop deck and I figured it was worth having a blast.
Pretty early on I came up with the concept of having an octopus on the deck. I’d love to say there is some clever reason behind it, but there isn’t. I just like octopuses, they’re just really bizarre creatures – I think Karl Pilkington put it best when he said that he didn’t find it strange that an octopuses testicles were inside it’s head as they would look weird dangling down below.
I did a really quick sketch (under 5 minutes) to see if I could make it fit the shape of the board and I was pretty happy with the way it balanced.
The next step was to work up a more useable visual – I kind of had it in my head that I wanted a pretty rough, scrappy style to the final piece – something along the lines of a woodblock print style. The first attempt failed pretty early on, using the computer didn’t work out at all, the lines were too clean and the illustration had no character or style at all. Freehand drawing on a computer is something I’ve never really got to grips with, even with my trusty Wacom Bamboo. So it was back to pen and paper and I worked up something I was pretty happy with, I had to look at a number of reference images for various bits of the anatomy but the end result was pretty good.
Unfortunately for me, the initial competition brief didn’t mention that that design needed the shop name (Subvert) somewhere in it, so I had to draw the octopus again. Now, I love octopuses as much as the next man, but by the time you’ve done your 3rd drawing of one you start to lose the love a little. Fast forward to 2 hours before the deadline and I hadn’t even started the final drawing yet.
The final drawing took me about an hour or so. It would have been a hell of a lot quicker if I had a thicker pen, the varying line thickness was something I wanted to keep but it was a major pain filling it all in with a fine liner.
Final drawing complete and the deadline looming I opted to take a photo of the sketch with my iPhone to get it onto my mac. I gave it a quick clean up in Photoshop, followed by a custom auto trace in Illustrator and I had some workable artwork. Initially I’d wanted some deep blues and vivid greens for the final design but it looked strongest in red on white (the competition was a two colour limit, one for the background and one for the illustration). 10 minutes to go and I sent my entry in.
Unbelievably, I won and the boards went into production. Yesterday I picked up the finished boards and they came out so well, I couldn’t be more pleased. Hope you like them!
And finally, here’s a video put together by Olly Roberts showcasing the new boards…
If you want to buy one, they’re available in store at Subvert, Xscape, Castleford or online here.
EDIT: The observant amongst you will notice that the first illustration of the octopus has 7 legs and the second has 9. Maths never was my strong point.