Santa Cruz Rob Roskopp “Face”
Everyone has their own personal choice. Over the years I’ve seen many amazing skateboard graphics – some intricate, some clever, some stupid, some risque. Back in the 80’s it was mostly skulls and gore. At the end of the decade, these themes became extinct, replaced by ironic cartoons and brand logo appropriation. You name it, it’s probably been featured on a deck somewhere. There are great examples of art of all styles.
The two giants of skateboard graphics in the 80’s, at least in my eyes, were Vernon Courtland Johnson and Jim Phillips. VCJ created the many iconic designs for Powell Peralta such as the Ripper and Skull and Sword. Awesome graphics that made my eyeballs pop, as a kid nurtured on comic book art and monsters.
The art of Jim Phillips featured on many Santa Cruz decks, including classic pro decks for Jeff Kendall, Jeff Grosso and Jason Jessee. My absolute favourite though was the Rob Roskopp street model, with a huge ugly face on it.
I first saw the Roskopp graphic in my sisters Smash Hits magazine, of all places. They did one of those lame “introduction to skateboarding” type of features, with things like “how to talk like a skateboarder”. It did feature UK hardcore band The Stupids however, and a model holding the deck in question.
As soon as I saw it, I loved that graphic. It was big, bold and over the top – but beautifully detailed.
A couple of years later, I eventually acquired a Santa Cruz Roskopp Face of my own. The deck itself was white, with the graphic in black screaming out from the bottom of the board. I was very happy that regardless of the fantastic art, it was a great shape and well made board. So the decision wasn’t made purely on the artwork.
I don’t remember what happened to that particular deck, I probably wore it out and swapped it with someone. There’s a photo of it somewhere.
A few years ago, I picked up a reissue of the Roskopp deck. It’s yellow, with the same great graphic as I had all those years ago. It’s never been skated – I keep this one on the wall, right above my desk (I have other boards for actually skating). It hangs there as a proud reminder, and an example of great skateboard art. That’s what this skateboard is to me – pure art.
In my opinion, the Santa Cruz Rob Roskopp “face” is the best skateboard graphic ever.
Check out the latest reissue here.
The Santa Cruz website is here.
No disrespect, by the way, to all the other great artists, skaters and brands who have produced fantastic skate art.
A special mention must go to Sean Cliver, whose book “Disposable” is an inspiration and very valued item in my collection! Check this out:
For anyone who’s interested, Kirk Shelton recreated the Santa Cruz font and it can be downloaded at dafont: http://www.dafont.com/santacarla.font