Grinds, Tricks, and Treats

Monday, October 31st, 2011

by Sarah Handelman
photos by Dave

For British skateboard designer and printer Lovenskate, Halloween is all about the treats. To celebrate the night of frights, the East London-based studio released a graveyard-themed board with illustration help from the scarily talented Paul Parker.

But don’t sweat it if you’re only out for the skate tricks. Lovenskate — mainly run by Stu and Lilli — designs and prints stacks of boards all year long, and the studio is the only place in the UK that still prints every skateboard by hand (most companies these days use heat transfer). Half-tone patterns, bright graphics, and gray-scaled cameos featuring the likes of Lesley Nielsen nod to skateboard designs of the late '80s, while punchy jokes and quirky image mash-ups of the royal newlyweds give these boards a face for modern skaters and appreciators.

As for the Halloween skateboard? The idea came from a board made a few years ago. “It was called ‘Real men skate curbs,’” says Stu, who asked Parker to develop a spooky graphic. “He came up with ‘Real ghouls skate pools’ and just worked his magic.”

Artist collaborations are a natural fit for Lovenskate — Stu comes from a fine art and screenprinting background, while Lilli hails from Central St. Martins. The studio draws upon its shared practices to create every piece that goes into these one-of-a-kind boards — the screens, letterforms, and stencils are all made by hand.

“The fact that when you hold these boards, you can see the process, and you can visibly see five layers of ink is super satisfying,” Stu says. “That’s something that I absolutely love and the reason why I still buy old boards from the '80s and '90s now. For me, the value is to see the process.”

As a result, the small operation has racked up a serious list of clientele, including work for London’s own Slam City Skates and a tea-themed collaboration with Carhartt. However, the exhaustive screenprinting process isn't all pretty. With only four hands (plus part-time help), printing these boards takes time. “Still, you don’t get the artwork looking like it does unless you go through that,” Stu says. Besides, the minor inconsistencies and individual nuances simply make each board like any good Halloween costume — totally unique.

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