Let’s start with the always interesting- How long have you been skateboarding and who influenced you to start?
I started skating around 1983 or so. After riding a purple plastic banana board and a crappy Nash or something, I graduated to my first “real” board the Vision Mark Gonzales. At that time, I also discovered punk rock and my life completely changed. I was attracted to the fact that skating was an outlaw sport and I was influenced heavily by the bands I was listening to and skaters like Gonzales, Alva, Natas, Staab, Hosoi, Vallely and the Bones Brigade.
Very cool. We have a lot in common with our first boards, influence of music and favorite skaters. In a nutshell, please explain to our readers what Art of Board and I Ride I Recycle is, are all about.
Art of Board is a lifestyle brand that embodies the creative spirit, freedom and individuality of skateboarding.
The company was founded on pushing stylish and functional design toward a sustainable future by creating products from broken, recycled skateboard decks. But not just any products…
Using hand-cut tiles from these decks, we provide commercial and residential spaces and retailers with unique, sustainable design solutions to help them reach an audience, sell products or create a defining style or experience. We pride ourselves on embracing and reusing the entire recycled skateboard deck in our design process. Keeping every scratch, scrape and gouge in tact ensures that no two designs are ever alike – making Art of Board truly original.
Through our national skate deck recycling movement – I Ride I Recycle – skateboarders, skateshops, skateparks and skateboard manufacturers become part of our designs by recycling their broken decks and wood waste instead of tossing them in the trash.
I Ride I Recycle is the FIRST-EVER, national (soon to be global), grassroots skate deck recycling movement. Dedicated to the protection of our environment by keeping broken skateboard decks and manufacturer wood waste out of landfills, we ARE the industry solution. I Ride I Recycle shifts skateboarding from a disrespected art form to one that embraces recycling, environmentally responsible manufacturing, reusing wood waste and broken decks, supporting charities and local skateshops, promoting skatepark builds in low-income areas and empowering youth with an eco-friendly DIY mentality.
Wow, what an amazing idea. Not surprising that you’re going global. Sounds like it has been a success from beginning. What inspired you to start AoB and IRIR? Anything in particular that sparked the full circle concept?
Art of Board was founded by Rich Moorhead and I became part of the company a few years later. The idea was born peripherally from his desire to open a skate shop 10 years ago. Bored with corporate life, he recognized a demand for a shop in his hometown of Hanover, PA. The shop never happened, in large part because locals wouldn’t rent to him knowing it was a skate shop. During this same period of time, Rich’s nephew was heavily into skating and had a pile of broken decks slated for the trash. Having a carpentry background, Rich asked him to hold off on the trash bin, as he saw something in the worn graphics, scrapes and gashes appearing on every deck. From there he started experimenting with various creations.
Rich began showing those creations to skate shops outside his local area and questioned where their broken decks ended up. He saw a pattern developing, with a consistent answer of, “We trash them.” Shops were more than happy to donate their piles of wreckage, knowing Rich was doing something creative in return.
As his projects evolved, so did the possibilities in working with the form pressed material. Developing a method using small squares, which created a very colorful palate and minimized waste, allowed the curved material to lie flat and Rich began experimenting with a tile concept. Knowing the industry was littered with broken decks, he was sure this could be the sustainable solution for the skate industry, providing true environmental impact. A few years later the demand for our Sk8 Tile fed off of our grass roots recycling movement called “I Ride I Recycle” and was the first comprehensive recycling movement in the skateboard industry.
It’s hard to believe no one else thought of this. It just makes complete sense thru and thru. What are some of the success stories to date you have had with the board art, skate shops and ultimately giving back to skateboarding and public parks?
With a few high profile projects in the works, Art of Board is proud to have contributed to the LEED Platinum, Cherokee Lofts in West Hollywood, which was featured in Interior Design Magazine last summer, as well as Tile Magazine. Our product was also an integral part of the Life Rolls On (A Subsidiary of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation) boardroom and reception area. And most recently we tiled the new Birdhouse ramp inside of Tony Hawk, Inc. in Vista, CA as well as designed a set for his new YouTube Channel, the Ride Channel. Wahoo’s Fish Taco in Las Vegas will be designed with Art of Board tile surfaces and also Laughing PLanet Cafe in Portland, Oregon.
We’re proud of finding a solution to the mountains of waste sitting in skateshops across the country and the best part is that Art of Board’s business model focuses on giving back to skateboarding in a major way by supporting skateboard charities and skateparks and helping to drive business to local skateshops that join I Ride I Recycle. It costs nothing for shops, parks and companies to join and Art of Board absorbs all shipping costs of recycled decks.
We support various charities, with the biggest being Tony Hawk’s Stand Up for Skateparks, which raises money to build skateparks in low-income areas.
That’s quite a resume. SPS appreciates working with the Hawk Foundation as well. Looking forward to success breeding success. I understand you have some exciting news for 2012…Can you share any of the details with us at this point?
Yes! Art of Board’s nationwide skateboard deck recycling movement gives the action sports industry many legitimate reasons to recycle broken decks through their program. And now we have another. His name is Mike Vallely and he’s going to make sure that message is heard loud and clear! So, through a series of public service announcements appearing online and in various skateboard magazines this year, Mike and us are screaming for change in an industry that has a social responsibility to keep wood waste out of landfills.
We’re thrilled to align ourselves with Mike. Not only is he one of the most influential skaters of all time, but we share the same principles when it comes to skateboarding, philanthropy and creating positive change. We’ll be working directly with him and also through his new Elephant Brand Skateboards to promote I Ride I Recycle.
Also this year, Art of Board is teaming up with the International Association of Skateboard Companies (IASC) to create recycling bins to not only collect broken decks, but also used ones that can be refurbished and donated to IASC’s Just One Board and Skatepark of Tampa’s Boards for Bros – two programs that provide used skateboards for at-risk youth who cannot afford their own.
Art of Board will also have new and exciting products coming, including peel and stick wall graphics and lots of other cool stuff I can’t mention now. But we’re making the recycled skate tile concept accessible to everyone in one form or another.
Mike V and the IASC will be huge assets too. Stoked to see what’s next…
How do you feel your organization(s) could partner with SPS to further the cause for public skateparks everywhere?
The more we grow, the more we’ll be able to do. Right now, we work directly with the Tony Hawk Foundation and we donate giveaway items to every new park opening as well as make that park an I Ride I Recycle park. We also sponsor a lot of skate jams and contests at parks all over the country. So, the plan is to grow our movement and build Art of Board to the point where we can offer more and more support to ALL parks. Aligning with SPS is something we will do and through things like art shows and other events, sponsoring contests, donating giveaway items. We’ll do all we can and are open to any ideas you guys have.
That all sounds really good. We’ll have to brain storm as a Board and see what partnering ideas we can come up with… How’s this for a closing question- Picture yourself with 5 minutes or less to speak at any city council or parks board meeting in any town or city…What would you say to city officials, board members and the rest of the community to help them understand skateboarding better and why skateparks are so important?
I would say that if their city doesn’t have a skatepark, then their city IS a skatepark. I have seen firsthand how important the parks are to kids through Tony Hawk’s Stand Up for Skateparks. I met at-risk kids from Long Beach, CA and other areas where they lived hard lives and finally had one passion…one thing that they loved with all their heart, that gave them hope. It was skateboarding, but they had nowhere to do it except in their dangerous, gang-ridden streets. They feared getting shot just going out to skate. These parks give them a place to do it safely. It will give them hope and a sense of community and a positive outlet to express their creativity. And this kind of stuff will live with these kids forever and shape them into positive and productive young men and women.
That’s perfect because SPS’s motto is “If your city doesn’t have a skatepark, it is a skatepark”. I must say Bruce that this interview has really blown me away…We have a lot in common with our skateboarding roots, but what you’re doing with I Ride I Recycle and Art of Board is uniquely brilliant. You and Rich have worked very hard and accomplished so much with tons of exciting growth in your near future. On behalf of the rest of the SPS Board, I thank you for your time, positive energy in sharing your story and the opportunity for us to work with your organization. Your whole concept of recycling skate decks into more art, than giving back through support of skateparks and more is very inspiring to all of us.