Buying a new deck is one of the greatest feelings a skateboarder can experience. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most guilty. Especially in those moments just after walking out of the skateshop with a shining new deck that displays a thoughtful graphic with full knowledge that some artist poured their blood, sweat and tears into curating it. Without further ado, you head straight to the nearest flatbar and smear their work across a cold steel beam without even a second thought. For anyone that’s ever done this to a Flip Skateboard, odds are that the tragedy might have come at the expense of one of Swedish illustrator, Martin Ander’s graphics.
Luckily for guilty parties, the folks at Dokument Press have you covered as they proudly release their latest title, ‘Ouff! Mander Selected Works.’ Now, skaters, fans and art connoisseurs can keep a testament to the work of Ander’s 25+ year illustration career in the form of a hardcover publication without worrying about chipping any paint. Clocking in at just under a hundred pages, Ander has managed to cram over 200 original illustrations into the pages of this work and has supplemented text throughout to help carry the narrative. While we could take a stab at trying to articulate the allure of his thought-provoking work, it’s clearly better to let Ander’s illustrations speak for themselves. For that, the snapshots of this book provide a glimpse into what we’re talking about here.
In addition, we posed Ander with a few questions just before the title’s European release party. Ranging from his beginnings in the skateboarding world to eventual developments in the creative process, have a look at what Ander has to say about his efforts to make viewers go Ouff!
I thought one of the most important points from your press release was that the skateboard industry found your work. How exactly did your professional relationship with skateboarding industry begin?
Well, it came quite naturally, I’ve been skating since 1985 and know most of the skaters in my generation of skaters in Sweden, and everybody knows that I like skateboard graphics and draw a lot.
I did skate zines and did some illustrations for a skate mag here in Sweden long before I got to do graphics. My first paid job in the skateboard industry was drawing posters and illustrations for eighties pro freestyler, Per Holknekt’s, skate shop in Stockholm back in 1990.
In 2007, when my friend Martin Karlsson started a company called Bellows Skateboards, he asked me to do some graphics for them, they had the same distribution as Sweet Skateboards, which was one of the big skate companies in Sweden at the time. They saw my work for Bellows and asked me to do graphics for them too. After that came Seven Inch Skateboards from Finland and Polygon from Sweden which I was part owner of for a while.
Then I got the contact with Flip Skateboards via Ali Boulala, I contacted them and got to do lots of graphics for them too. That was about five or six years ago I think. I’ve always been freelance – I want to work with everybody. The past year I’ve done graphics for Sweet again, and both Sunrise and Scumfuc skateboards from Chile, Chrononaut from Sweden and RVCA.
Between huge names like Flip to smaller names like Polygon, are there any differences in your creative process when designing graphics for larger brands versus smaller brands?
All clients are different. The biggest difference is that I’m friends with most of the Swedish clients and their teams and they totally trust me to do something cool. In a small market, it doesn’t have to be as commercial. The decks will sell anyway and the team is stoked that I do their graphics. Working with a bigger company means more people involved, more opinions, more decks per series and of course, the need to follow the brand’s aesthetic idea more and to keep the team riders happy.
What’s the craziest part of seeing a wall full of boards displaying your work on them?
The coolest part is to see a kid picking down a board and looking at the graphic, just like i did when i was a kid with the VCJ and Jim Phillips graphics.
Can you explain any of the reasoning behind fusing what’s been referred to as “melancholia and darkness” with bright colors?
I don’t really put too much thought in to that. I’m not really a melancholic dude, but my work tends to be a little bit dark sometimes. Maybe its me just trying to make the images look a little bit more fun, or it’s the fact that I love old blacklight posters. My work is quite detailed – lots of things happening at the same time. By adding bright colors to it, I can make the important stuff ”pop” and tone down some of the not so important details.
Frida Talik’s account of your book describes how it provides an “insider view” to your work. How do you think it does that?
I myself buy a lot of books about artists, cartoonists and illustrators. And usually they don’t contain that much: one image per page, mostly stuff you have already seen and hardly any text. I wanted to give the audience what they pay for so in Ouff!, there’s one long interview, two shorter texts and over 300 images, camped in to 96 pages. I have not tried to just put the absolute best stuff for the coolest clients in the book, there’s a little bit of everything. Just like the life of an illustrator.
What was it like to take art that you would usually have endless canvas space for and consolidate/reformat it for the purposes of the book?
At first it was hard. Most of my images is drawn to be pretty big and I had to scale them down to fit in the book. I had to think of every spread as an art piece in itself and [think of] the images in it [as] parts of a bigger picture, not art pieces themselves. It was the opposite from showing in a galley, where every piece hangs by itself on a white wall. I was afraid that I would lose the details in some of the images, but I think it worked out great. You don’t read a book the same way you read a poster or a skate graphic.
Any parting words about the book/your artistic career that you’d like to share?
The book is called Ouff! Mander Selected Works. It dropped in Europe on Sept. 20, and drops in the USA/rest of the world on Oct 25. Follow me on Instagram for new work: @manderoid
All photos provided and authorized and provided by Dokument Press and Martin Ander. Portrait photo shot by Petter Danielsson.