We all knew the second wave of Clown Skateboards was something to be excited about, but they’ve most definitely exceeded our expectations and we’re so stoked on what they’ve already accomplished! Great team, strong ethics and charity at the focal point. They have now released the first of their four artists series collaborating with the incredible French street artist LUDO. We chatted to Clown Skateboards founder Jeff Boardman and guest artist LUDO. Read below to find out more.
Support Clown Skateboards and see their new launch here.
We really like the concept behind the guest artist series. What does each series entail and how did you go about choosing the artists to work with?
Each series will be different to the next as we work with the artists and the makers to develop how to apply their vision. The one thing connecting them all is of course the skateboard. We are hoping in the future a lot more will be done with the board prior to the application process. There are some really nice veneers works being done in our industry at the moment and we are about to experiment a little in that area. Finding the artists has been the fun bit. It’s allowed me to approach people I admire and like what they stand for. Each artist we spend some time with to see if we are a good fit, that our aims align to do something good for the art / skateboards communities and that they want to create something special.
The first in the series is with LUDO, how did this mighty collaboration come about and what do you admire about this specific artist’s approach?
A simple one, got his details and reached out. We had a real long chat about loads of different stuff and things really seemed to fall in place. The word collab is something we don’t recognise (sorry). It’s used for marketing merch and this is so not a merch situation – we see this as a working project between us, the artists and some really great makers. Too much time, effort and love goes into making this happen to be a collab. I have always admired LUDO’s work as he is bold with his subject matter in forms that are cheeky and you have to look twice to realise the messaging – it is not always clear and can be very dark. Bit like a Clown.
I did not know LUDO prior to this no, but it’s been a joy getting to know him over the last 6 months. I have had a few lockdown days that have been crap but worked out pretty good after spending some time chatting with Ludo – he is a really nice guy. Really looking forward to meeting him when we can. Well, I am going to say the roses, not just because it’s part of the series but because of the dark message encased in something that is beautiful. We have a bunch of roses on the shirt that looks amazing until you look closely and see an aspect of greed.
In terms of hands on creation, how are the graphics being put onto the decks and could you please elaborate on the process and the hand crafted aspects of this project?
This is the bit that has taken the most amount of time. We have tried numerous ways to create this series, some of it worked ok, some was absolutely dreadful, and I think we now have the best formula for LUDO. Everything we do is hand silk screen printed at Clown but this time we had to go a few steps further. Our main approach with Ludo has been to find a way that each board is different to the next, even if slightly, but they must feel 1 off’s as they are.
The diptych was the hardest one to crack. We went through a number of tests to get this one right from spaying, dripping and even using a baster to apply the drips. The rose and the knuckle dusters are so intricate (five layer silk screen process) and there is no way we could change that. The position of the drips was the difference we could make. So this is done by having a number of silk screens and also the means of masking certain areas off. That’s been a major task working out the sequencing of the drips so no pair of boards is the same. You can’t have the drips in the same formula and location as the next. I have got the job of being the man on the masking to make sure that happens. The single version has a hand sprayed base using the LUDO green and then the metallic is applied through a silk screen process by hand. None of this would come together if it was not for Tommy in the UK and Bryan in the USA – they are amazing makers and I have learnt so much from them.
There are going to be four artists in total in this series. When will they be announced and how often will the guest artist series happen?
We wanted to deliver all four series this year but I think we have been a bit ambitious to be honest. We will deliver three this year but announce four artists and deliver the last artist in Jan 2022. Our next artist will be announced in May, the one after that in September and the last one for 2021 in November.
Clown Skateboards has prioritised charity since it’s relaunch. Could you explain the importance of this and how it benefits our community especially during these times?
I think we all know at the moment it is pretty shit for everyone, but those who have less seem to be getting a rougher ride – so it’s a time to help out where you can, in any way you can. We wanted to bring Clown back and have it at the front of our minds that we would find ways to generate funds and put that back into the communities we love either through the Guest Art Club or by the Clown Tokens on our website. Our first drop of Clown completes are arriving in May and those are going out to a number of organisations that need equipment support in the UK but also to Greece to help on a refugee project to give kids skate lessons. We have our DIY fund application now open which is for small grants and free equipment so the kids that help on the DIY build can get a free complete. We are trying to work with as many people as time will allow us to. We can help fund some things but also help make things happen. One of the things we are most worried about is the mental health of our younger generations so we are looking into that to see how we can help out. I think the best benefit for our community is our community – since we have come back we have met a huge amount of people that really want to make a difference and we just want to be part of that and do our bit with them.
Where and when can the lovely public be able to see and buy this first series?
We are first releasing the Guest Art Project through a club we have set up at Clown online. We have had a little bit of hassle with bots and flippers with Clown so we are hoping that by having an extra layer of security will allow the bots no access and in doing so, remove the flippers. When all the skate shops are back open we hope to be with some of them for the second Guest Art Project.
Guest Artist LUDO
So LUDO could you please give us a bit of background on how you got into your craft and the progression to where you’re at today?
I studied sociology then graphic design, some jobs always in the creative field (well almost…) then I just felt the need to focus on my art. I started mostly and only painting and pasting outside as it was also the need of freedom and a total break with rules that motivates me at the beginning. Then galleries contacted me, then museums, then….Even when working inside spaces, I need this same energy and freedom.
You must have some stories doing street art, have you got any gems and could you please describe the outdated approach to street art in general in terms of the law?
I remember being chased in LA with helicopters on top some years ago. We found a hidden spot on the last floor of a car park and stayed all night with LA lights in front. It was amazing.
You’ve been skating a while now, were you aware of Clown Skateboards’ presence in the UK scene the first time around and what do you admire about the relaunch?
Yes and No. I, of course, knew Banksy’s work back in the days. So I was honoured to follow. Everything about music and skate are a big yes whenever it’s possible to collaborate.The quality Clown puts on making the boards is amazing. I don’t like the usual jpg printed on artist skates and these are fully hand made, screen printed, hand painted.
Could you describe the creative process for this project and have you done board graphics prior to this? Did you have to adapt your work in any way?
Long talks with the team about what would fit the project. I like the vibes of the brand that actually doesn’t feel like the usual art on deck so I really wanted to respect Banksy’s work and this DNA.
Support Clown Skateboards and see their new launch here.