The label of being a “skate rat” has been thrown around for years at the seemingly unproductive skateboarders of society. To most, the typical skate rat serves no purpose but to spend their weekdays patronizing the skatepark and their nights and weekends infiltrating corporate America’s hidden street spots. In a more constructive light, crews like the SK8RATS, have added a more positive connotation to the slang since 2004 by showcasing some ripping footage from guys like Sebo Walker and, one of my all time favorites, Cory Kennedy.
Now in 2017, we find yet another iteration of the infamous “skate rat” moniker, this time being interpreted as a pun in the illustrations scribbled from Dustin Ammons’ pen. As he puts it, “Honestly, I just love terrible puns. The worse they are, the better they get. I’m not the first to make skate rats and I doubt I’ll be the last, but I do like that I’ve kept them relatively proportionate to an actual rat.”
It is this commitment to the joke that makes Ammons’ work so enticing. One scroll through his Instagram reveals dozens of these things. There are skate rats gripping their board on the curb, battling the presence of pebbles and, most notably, busting tricks over the coping on transition pieces and sliding their way through on ledges made of cheese. “It’s hard to go wrong with cheese ledges and skate rats”, he adds.
In the spaces around the misadventures of his beloved skate rat, Ammons uses the platform to express his opinions on a variety of other hotbed topics that beset modern day skate rats. Included in these topics are the proper terminology for longboards, implications of corporate influence in skateboarding, the importance of a poser-free skate scene and of course, the PSA that snaking on scooters is starkly unacceptable. Also included in the mix are some seamless looking collabs with guys like Eric J. Eckert (aka @idrawmazes), who was just recently featured on the Concrete Wave site. Though all come off with the same lightheartedness as the skate rats’ casual shredding, these works do hint at a more formal purpose behind the seemingly mindless doodles.
“I definitely would’ve lost my mind without art”, says Ammons. Currently pinned down by a lingering knee problem in his early 20s, the art provides a way to stay involved in the skate world, even if unable to physically go out there and be able to emulate some of those wallies and nose bonks that his illustrated skate rats have on lock. As as another 20-something year old, documenting this story with a set of crutches beside him, awaiting a second knee surgery, I can wholeheartedly sympathize with Ammons. His ability to continue finding ways to resonate with the skate community is admirable, no matter how many sessions of physical therapy lay ahead.
As for the rest of the skate rats across the world, whether out there chomping tranny or confined to knee braces and recliners. the skate rats on the pages of Ammons’ work are here to stay. With the exposure they have already received, Ammons is still taken back by it, noting, “It’s so weird, but in the best way possible. Like, to have a person on a different continent enjoy my stuff still blows my mind.” For this growing worldwide collective, the best way to keep up with the skate rats from Ammons’ pen is to stay glued to his ever growing collection of work over on Instagram.