If you think about it, skateboarding is like a maze a lot of the time. Right?
You set out at a clear starting point. But to reach that coveted ending, is chaotic. From the literal twists and turns of our unsanctioned streets to the metaphorical dead ends, constituted by pebbles, snapped plys, and chronic mental fatigue, the similarities between skateboarding and hand drawn labyrinths are comparable. However, Eric J Eckert, better known to the professional skateboarding world by his Instagram shorthand @idrawmazes, fuzes the skateboard and the maze together differently.
For Eckert, skateboarding and maze drawing started out as trivial pastimes in his elementary years until being taken more seriously in and around his college years. From there, skipping class to go skate and knocking out a new maze on the daily opened up the floodgates. As the mazes started popping up on Twitter, they began to go from being solely linear creations to ones featuring well-known celebrity faces. As traction grew, he noticed the most love coming from none other than us – the skateboarders of the world. With the positive responses and interactions from the skate community, Eckert shifted his focus more centrally towards skateboarding. When he took the work to our beloved breeding grounds for sharing of Instagram, “it was the perfect showcase and the exposure went nuts” in Eckert’s words.
A first look at Eckert’s work hearkens back to a story that just that went live for CW earlier this year on skateboarding’s first coloring book: Color-X. In it, the prospect of interacting with skate photography in a new light is discussed. In a similar sense, these mazes too celebrate the complexity and difficulty that go into the skating and shooting for a successful photo in a way like the coloring book does. In Eckert’s case, adding his own personal element of the mazes is even better because it allows for a personal connection to both the skater and the photographer being showcased.
Speaking of these pro skaters, the level of pure stoke and appreciation has been nothing short a dream come true. Guys like Chris Cole have stepped away from the floodlights at Street League to show his maze some love. Chris Roberts made enough room on the set of his ever-popular podcast, The Nine Club, to display one of the mazes (next to the switch flip to switch manual, of course). T-Puds actually stopped slaughtering the flatbars of the world for long enough to pose in Eckert’s collab shirt with Hellaclips (even though he probably could have done so in the midst of a crazy looking dipped backside smith anyway). Hell, even Danny Way took time away from hurling himself through the sky to give away a copy of his maze. To Eckert, seeing the pros hitting the like button is enough to fan out over, but seeing the pros with their hands on it and even requesting mazes is a whole different ballgame. Judging by the amount of exposure in the eyes of the industry, it’s safe to say Eckert is playing that game well.
Perhaps the most rewarding one for Eckert was getting to do a graphic for the always creative boys over at Enjoi Skateboards. As he put it himself, “When I started really making mazes that were focused on skating, my end goal was to get a graphic made. Enjoi was by far my favorite company, so that was my hope, but I never actually expected it to happen. Then one day they hit me up and it still feels like a dream. I have that board with Louie’s signature hanging in my living room, and I still look at it every time I walk by.” Make no mistake, though, Eckert stands by the claim that seeing his graphics put to good use is better than hanging them as mere decorations. “I love the interactive nature of skate graphics in that people can appreciate what’s gone into it, but then they actually get use out of it”, he added.
The maze does not end here for Eckert though. With plans to keep riding the wave until it fizzles out, he intends to formalize his attempt at the world record for largest hand drawn maze. He has been unofficially successful at this feat twice, covering his home office once and a covering sizable mini ramp another time, but was rendered ineligible for due to technicalities. So long as his supply of Sharpies runs deep, it’s best to stay tuned to @idrawmazes on Instagram to see where the story goes from here.