The Legendary Designs of Skateboard Artist Jim Phillips

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colorful pop art illustration

I first became interested in art and design around the age of 11, in the early 1980’s. It was around this time when the underground skateboarding scene emerged from Southern California.

I was fascinated with the artwork on the skateboard decks, from companies like Vision, Powell Peralta and Santa Cruz. The graphics were bold and bright and had a pop-like look and feel. There were a variety of different styles and artists that captivated me, but I was especially drawn to the skateboard deck designs that were produced by Santa Cruz Skateboard artist Jim Phillips.

photo of the screaming hand logo by jim phillips

santa cruz logo

Jim Phillips was the art director for Santa Cruz Skateboards starting in 1974, where he created thousands of skateboard deck, t-shirt and sticker designs. Born in San Jose in 1944, he has lived most of his life in Santa Cruz, California. Jim began his career around 1967, designing rock posters for a studio at the Crosstown Bus in Boston. His second poster was for the first East coast appearance of The Doors. Jim has published several books of his artwork and continues to design for Santa Cruz/NHS creating special edition decks and many new products worldwide.

jim phillips doors poster

I first became interested in the work of Jim Phillips after seeing a logo he designed called “The Screaming Hand” on the wall at a skateboard shop.

The Screaming Hand is a pop-like design depicting a severed arm flying through the air, with a screaming mouth in the palm of the hand. It’s bold bright colors and unique mix of pop and horror fascinated and inspired me. The idea of mixing different elements that do not belong together in a drawing or design interested me and was something I began to explore.

I began putting my own original artwork on skateboard decks using spray paint, stencils and paint pens. And as I continued applying my designs on more skateboard decks, my technique became more polished.

After discovering my passion for painting and design, my mom purchased an easel and acrylic paints, and encouraged me to put my ideas and designs on canvas. This is when art and design became an important and constant role in my life.

The colorful pop-surreal skateboard deck designs of Jim Phillips were my introduction to the world of art and design, and still continue to influence the work I produce today.

santa cruz skateboard photo

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