Samuel Lucas, Illustrator / Graphic Designer Interview

Interview with Samuel Lucas, Illustrator / Graphic Designer. |  by Sebastião Belfort Cerqueira

Samuel Lucas is a very busy graphic designer, but a happy one. Which makes talking to him a freaking pleasure . He took a little time to tell us his story and it’s basically the story of a dude who got to become involved in the work of some of his heroes. How do you beat that?

I know you basically do freelance stuff, but I’ve learned that now you're piling up some official jobs on top of that?

I know what you’re talking about but, well, to tell you the truth everything is pretty much freelance. Even with Thousand Islands Records [Canadian label], where I’m an art director, it’s still freelance, they pay me by the project. But it’s my choice. I worked briefly in an advertising agency but it just wasn’t my thing. No freedom, no artistic freedom. With Vazva, the spanish clothing brand, it’s the same type of arrangement. At one time, before the corona panic, I was doing four different collections or drops a year for them. I knew that throughout the year I’d be working for them during certain periods, which is cool for a freelancer, because it helped me fit the rest of my work around those dates. With the stuff I’m doing for Cruzade Skateboards it’s pretty similar.

Speaking of Cruzade, it’s funny because those graphics caught my eye recently and I had no idea who was doing them. They sort of reminded me of some Creature graphics but maybe a little more cartoonish.

Yeah, I’d been following their stuff pretty much since they started because they were working with a Spanish artist I thought was really good. I had thought more than once that I’d like to be able to work with them sometime and then one day they just sent me an email. We hit it off really quickly and got to work. But right now, man, the skateboard market is pretty insane. I just finished a collection for Cruzade in late April that’ll only be coming out in 2022. They don’t have enough raw material, enough wood to keep up with the demand.

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Yeah, I’d heard similar stories. But going back, I’d like to ask you how you started. Were you always drawing a lot, was there any particular gig that made you realize that you could do illustration for a living?

Well, I’d say I started when I was in high school, around 2009. We had this website for promoting punk shows and that’s when I began paying more attention to the bands I was listening to, learning about them and I remember noticing the Vans Warped Tour posters, how they looked. Then at about the same time I got into my school’s students’ union and there I was involved in actually organizing concerts. The first one we did was a Fonzie [Portuguese skate punk band] show. We had to draw a poster and there was no one else so I just thought I should give it a try. I still remember, the whole poster was done on Paint. But it must’ve worked, because just through word of mouth I started getting requests to design posters and other stuff for other Portuguese punk bands.

Eventually I won this international contest to design a merchandising line for Etnies. The prize was simply them going through with it, like actually producing and distributing the line like they do all their product. That gave me quite a bit of visibility. And I used it to open some doors. I’d get in contact with bands and be like “hey, I did this, what do you say?” From 2010 to 2014, while I was in college, all the money I made I could just spend on partying and going out. After college, and especially after having worked with big names like NOFX, The Casualties or No Fun at All, I thought maybe I should hold on to this more seriously, because it was what I enjoyed doing and I had been doing fine so far.

Your style definitely makes me think of a lot of 90s punk albums, and 80s skate graphics, Jim Phillips comes to mind... were you looking at the work of any particular artists or was it more a sort of vague influence from a whole era?

No, you’re right there. Jim Phillips was for sure someone I paid a lot of attention to. Him and his son Jimbo were both probably my main inspirations. There were also some other guys I really liked, like Sean Cliver, Brandon Heart... then more on the punk music side Horsebites (Richard Minino), Dan Mumford, Godmachine... I mean they’re all different but it’s also useful to be able to adapt a little bit according to each client’s needs.

I was looking at your stuff and thinking, this really is illustration. It’s not a drawing or painting that someone puts on a record cover or a skate deck, it illustrates an idea or tells a little story. How do you get to that? For example, for a record, do you talk with the band, do you get to listen to the album?

Yeah, usually they’ll send me the album while it’s still in production. Most of the times I’m either in contact with someone in the band or with a manager or someone like that and they’ll give me a starting point, a basic idea that I’ll explore. It’s usually a simple process. After the initial briefing we send the design back and forth a couple of times until it’s done. For example, if there’s an album that’s going to have a big booklet with all the lyrics and a lot of pages, I try to imagine a graphic solution that’ll run through all of it, something that’ll make sense from the cover, through the booklet and the cd itself, to the back cover. Right now Thousand Islands is preparing a compilation album. And “thousand island” is the name of a well-known type of salad dressing. So we’re redoing the label’s logo to look like a bottle of salad dressing and I was telling them that the compilation will have to look like a restaurant menu, with different types of dressings and stuff like that. Particularly in the case of punk bands, where most of the times they have something they really want to get across, you can take that conceptual side and explore it to the limit.

One example that I’m really happy with is the work I did for [Portuguese punk band] Artigo 21. Their album was going to be called Ilusão [Illusion] so I thought we should find a way to reveal every image as an illusion. The cover shows someone sitting at home, in a nice house, watching this smiling politician with a background of green trees on their smartphone. Then you open the cover and everything turns out to be complete shit. The dude is handcuffed to his phone, the trees behind the politician were a set, there’s a guy starving beside him, factories everywhere... Having the little cutout really increased the cover’s production costs, which for a Portuguese band, in the Portuguese market, could well mean that they’d have a hard time making their money back. But I’m glad they thought it was worth it anyhow.

That’s cool. It already says a little bit about your process but I wanted to ask you about a particular project you did. I really liked the board design you made for Trucks and Fins, the one with the UFOs, I think you nailed the site’s spirit. I wanted to ask you: how did you come to that one?

I’m also very happy with how that one turned out. The process, I mean, Haroun [T&F co-founder] just told me “you know what the site is about and you know our work so just do whatever you think is better” and, well, it was like you said, I just had to think about what the website was. I knew it had to be something pretty futuristic and then I thought it would be cool to refer to the website’s international scope, so I had the idea of including all these famous monuments. So yeah, I thought of these UFOs coming to steal all the skateparks and taking them to another dimension, which would be the dimension where Trucks and Fins is. When we do a new version we can continue the story and have the aliens skating the parks they stole on Mars or somewhere like that. Also, the central ship, which is taking a skatepark with a skater in it, is taking the Venice Beach skatepark, which for us is just as iconic as all the monuments that are lying about broken at the bottom.

It’s a great idea and a great graphic, I hope they’ll go into production some time soon. Before we go, are you working on anything cool right now, is there anything you’d like to announce?

There’s one thing that I’m really hyped on. Rastilho Records is doing a re-issue of Censurados Ao Vivo [classic Portuguese punk band live reunion album] and I’ll be doing the design for that. Also, I’m starting a collection for this American punk band that I’ve been a fan of for years. They’re called A Wilhelm Scream and they’ re huge in the States, and not just there of course. Their first t-shirts or posters were done by Jimbo Phillips and I was looking at them and thinking that I’d love to do something for those guys one day. Then about two months ago I got an email from their manager and I was ecstatic. I’m doing two designs for them.

That’s what I call a happy-ending. Thanks a lot, Samuel.

Check Trucks and Fins’ instagram for the chance of winning a Samuel Lucas custom-designed deck.

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By Sebastião Belfort Cerqueira

Interview with Txus Domínguez, CEO of Zutskateparks

August 10, 2022 Zut. It's the Basque word for ‘vertical’, which can be used for almost all kind of stuff that's vertical. Even that too, explains Txus Domínguez with a naughty smile. CEO of Zutskateparks, a Spanish builder, who started his journey with La Kantera and since then has been involved in the construction of more than 100 skateparks all over the place. If we want to guess how skateparks will look like in the future, this is one of the guys with a crystal ball. His prediction? A mix of styles at the same spot. "I like skateparks where everything flows. A good chaos." ZUTSkateparks You have been involved in the construction of more than 100 skateparks in many countries. Did it all start with La Kantera? It all started when I was a kid and started making wooden ramps. We did that because of our natural restlessness. Then came La Kantera and before I knew it a thousand copies were made of it and I told myself: ‘I have to do more’. The La Kantera bowl was my first project of this magnitude and I never stopped since. Do you keep finding mistakes made when building skateparks? It’s a shitty thing. Designing skateparks is quite cool, but working with some city halls can be crazy. For many of them it’s just about politics. They don’t care if it has real quality or not. Sometimes the most important thing is to make it just to show off. Yes, they are some who think logically, but most of them think differently. How is that? It happened with me. I was asked by an architect to design a skatepark in Madrid. He was handling all the talks with the City Hall, but because he didn’t know nothing about skateboarding, he told me a public tender would be held, respecting the criteria. A bigger company came, presented a smaller price, and won the project. Two months of hard work went to the gutter. So, is it hard to compete with the majors? The thing is many of those majors are general constructors, they are not specialized in skateparks. Yes, they are very good companies, but I’m talking about those who reduce the price sometimes to half of it, killing the market. And why do they offer so little to build it? Because the workers are poorly paid, they do not have the necessary skills and the result mostly turns out to be a disaster. That is when they come to me, to try to solve the problem. Doing that, will increase the final cost and it will end up being much more than before others tried to reduce the price to "win" the project.  How do you think skateparks will look like in the next 15/20 years, considering how the skate scene has evolved since the 80’s? I hope skateboarding continues to evolve in the next years. We saw what happened in the last 40 years with the appearance of half pipes, bowls; simple circuits that became more complex. Now we see a mix between street and flow. I think it works fine at the Olympics. This could evolve to something… I don’t know if it could be a blend of big and small, a mix between bowls and street… you name it. Are you working on a new skatepark concept? I’m putting pure skate aside and working with surf and skate parks. They are organic shapes with "dunes". It’s not just for surfers, people who think that are wrong. They are transitions from where they can jump, there is a street line too where they can ride and do some flips… I have made that in Galicia. You have dunes where you can do some snaps, it’s easier, it’s like doing a coping with no grinds. You can do grabs and whatsoever. It’s a place where surfers can do aerials, grabs, where you can do fast street, mixing all these lines and styles. I made one of these in France, an indoor park where the under-20 surf national team works. I’m now building one in Galicia, with miniramps that turns into mini dunes at the rear, where the corners are curved. Everything flows. Everything mixed… I don’t like "linear" skateboarding. The street section at the Olympics looks nice, but it looks better to me if a rider gets out his board, flows around and doesn't stop. It’s like in the old days when we had total freedom on the streets, when everything was improvised, a good and nice chaos. So, more transition and less street… Surf/skate parks are growing everywhere, but I can’t say if this will be the future. Let’s see. There’s a park in Stockholm I would like to visit, it’s like a dish, they mix many concepts. From the first draw to choosing materials: what is the ideal skatepark for you? Well, I have to say there was only one time when I had total freedom for that: when I built the bowl at La Kantera. I drew it without showing it to anyone. That was the one I like the most. Since then, there’s always some things people ask to do differently, and I have to respect that. That’s why I sometimes joke: give me the Arrigunaga bowl and downhills and I’m happy with that (he laughs). Could a good skatepark be considered a piece of art? Of course, because you must be an artist to design that, it takes a lot of creativity to do it. They are like concrete sculptures. But you can mix materials, too, like a plastic artist. I make artistic details at some parks: a dragon’s head, a whale’s tale, etc. Like an extra? Yes. If a city hall keeps his word and, in the meantime, they don’t change the project I reward them by doing this art details. It’s a way of saying thank you. What people don’t understand is that drawing a skatepark takes a lot of time and many city halls ask projects for "the next" week, as if this was possible! Visit ZUTskateparks Find out more about La Kantera

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Rote Flora DIY skatepark - An illegal DIY park in the middle of Hamburg 

July 28 2022. An illegal DIY park in the middle of Hamburg they just can't get rid of, with a weird mix of skaters, squatters, dealers, drug addicts and tourists taking photos. The Rote Flora theater was constructed in 1835 and was shuttered down after World War II. After the war it turned into a cinema and later on a store. In the late 1980s, locals heard about plans to make the theater into a venue for performances of 'The Phantom of the Opera'. Afraid, this would change the area and attract tourists, locals proposed to turn it into a community Centre instead, but this alternative was completely ignored by the city. When in 1988 the rear end of the building was demolished and it didn't take long before sabotage attacks started occurring on the construction site. After a while the city had no other choice then giving the community a temporary lease to use the building. When the lease expired in November 1989, the occupiers stayed and Rote Flora was squatted. The squatters said the building was a "free space for realizing an autonomous life". In 2001 the collective said "We are the 'UFO in the neighborhood'. The black hole in public space. The city won't get rid of us because we are a part of what life is."  Regarding the new owner, the collective said "we neither asked Kretschmer to buy Flora, nor are we in the slightest interested in his opinions about the political ideologies and the work of the Rote Flora." Kretschmer had signed with the city a contract that expired in 2011 and that's when a resistance campaign called "Flora remains incompatible" against possible eviction started. Things have remained pretty much the same until 2014, when a change in plans for the site was announced that would ensure the building would not be demolished and could remain a cultural centre (wikipedia). Over the years, Rote Flora has also become a destination for alternative tourism and a popular skate spot. Bang in the middle of the centre of Hamburg, behind the theater you will find the Rote Flora bowl. This DIY project was started by several skaters back in 2005, when they built a miniramp in the backyard of the occupied theater. In between 2005 and 2007 the local founders got professional help by Matt of Minus ramps and they started to built the first part of the bowl. The guys just kept on building and years of extensions later the Flora bowl is known worldwide as one of the oldest and most central DIY skateparks in Germany.  What makes this illegal spot really unique is it's location. There's not many spots in the world like this. During the Thrasher Skate Rock Tour Jake Phelps and other American rippers fell in love with the spot cause they were not used to a DIY skatepark that is that close to the center and built illegally.  Photos Courtesy of Pascal Lieleg aka Bowlsh!t    Visit Rote Flora Skatepark Official Bowlshit Flora Skatepark DIY Documentary

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The sanctuary of La Kantera,  Spain's most iconic skatepark

25 July 2022. Interview with Txus Domínguez, the spiritual father of La Kantera skatepark, Spain's most iconic skatepark, aka Algorta skatepark. The eighties, a one-of-a-kind decade. An era of creativity in music, movies and art performance. A decade stuck between the old and the new global world, when waves crossed the Atlantic Ocean rapidly, bringing along new ideas and tendencies. That happened with skateboarding too, when the incredibly young Txus Domínguez and his Getxo Boys brought the Californian sun to the Basque Country in Spain and build La Kantera, currently one of the oldest and most renown skateparks in Europe. Txus Domínguez guides you into a journey to the past and tells us why this place is so special, so mystique and so iconic. La Kantera. First things first: what does it mean? In Spanish we say ‘cantera’ for two things: a training ground for kids to learn a special sport or (and this is the case) a kind of quarry. This was a place packed with stones, that is why we called it La Kantera. La Kantera was built in 1987. You were still so young but had an extraordinarily strong role in this process. I’m from Getxo, a place in the Basque Country with a huge surf tradition. In the 60’s a company called Sancheski showed up and built the first skateboard. Initially they build skis, but after being in the US, they brought "skateboards" into Spain. I received my first Sancheski when I was six years old. This was a toy at the first stage, but in just a couple of years skateboarding had turned more serious. Surfers started building ramps. Madrid built its very first skatepark and quickly we started to put pressure on the City Hall. Was it hard? Not really, because there were many surfers in the region, some of them worked in the City Hall. We went to schools to collect signatures. We got more than three thousand signatures. In the meantime we started to build ramps everywhere, that was when my brother and I met the architect who still works with me and helps to build skateparks. He’s six years older than me, he was sixteen when we first had meetings with the City Hall. Do you still remember how much the first park cost? Around twenty-five million pesetas (former Spanish currency), which is now something like 150.000 euros. Architects who had designed the plans made it too vertical, fortunately we saw that in time and changed the plans. We started these discussions in 1984 and three years later La Kantera was inaugurated. Did you find resistance during those three years? No, we had good vibes since the beginning and after La Kantera was built I promoted some events and the City Hall helped, like the Arrigunana Downhill race, the famous Bajada Arrigunaga. That was held in the 90’s. Police helped by closing the streets and we also received some money to organize things. What makes La Kantera so special?      A mix of several things. For one we have a strong culture of surf and many hills in the area. Skating with speed is something natural for us here in Getxo. That’s the type of skate we mostly did here in La Kantera, a very surfer kind of style. The place is special too. It's located on the beach side with the ruins of an old military fort. All this has given a big charisma to the place. It was the cradle of big skaters, too. Yes! If there was a national competition in Spain, let’s say with 40 riders, 25 of them were from La Kantera. Many great skaters were born here: Alain Goikoetxea, Alfonso Elvira, Javier Mendizibal, Alfonso Lute Fernandez, Ivan Fano, Jon Txufo… It turned into the Santiago de Compostela for pilgrims of skateboarding… Before we knew it people from abroad started to come. Big names in skateboarding flipped out when they discovered our park. This looks like California, the Americans used to say.  How has La Kantera evolved since 1987? Was your bowl, built years later, decisive to boost it?  After La Kantera was built, some fifty copies were made in the Basque Country, but all worse than the original. There was a time that La Kantera died out a bit, because people got bored, they wanted new things. Around that time, I went to California with some friends. I wanted to skate in pools, that was my dream. I stayed there for three months. When I came back the City Hall proposed to enlarge the park. I drew a bowl from scratch, and it was built in the year of 2000. It’s a famous bowl… Yeah, it’s not a perfect bowl. It has a different transition, it’s not like the actual bowls, where everything is more perfect. At the begging people said it was crazy. I built it when street skating was the "thing", and vert was almost dead. People were riding with 30 mm wheels, and we were riding with 60 mm wheels. I was doing ollies, but not flips or gabs. Fortunately, guys from Consolidated like Peter Hewitt and Steve Bailey came to La Kantera and fell in love with the bowl. That's when we were put on the world map and people from all over the globe started to come. La Kantera skyrocketed. Big names started appearing at our bowl like, Christian Hosoi, Steve Caballero, Gordon Smith, Steve Clark, Nicky Guerrero, Florian Bohm, Steve Olson… Not to forget all the famous street skaters as well. The ‘fiestas’ that you organize, they are famous too. What drives you do to that?     Just to have a good time with the community and meet new people. It all started when I did the Arrigunaga Downhill. First it was illegal, then we wad agreements with the City Hall, and it became legal. It was just speed, fun and beers. At a new years’ eve, we had over 5000 people watching it. But there was a time when a kid almost died and the city said ‘the party is over’. I also organized some parties at La Kantera during all these years, the famous ‘pool parties’. The flames and the skull you see in photos, that’s me who drew it. But because of my work (I make skateparks) I currently just organize one party, I call it ‘killer fifty-fifties’. Theoretically it’s only for over fifty-year guys, but anyone can participate, really. It’s an old school event, with almost no sponsors, no security bays, it’s pure fun, simple chaos. It’s a way to go back to the origins.        Visit La Kantera skatepark Visit ZUT Skateparks

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The New Mafra skatepark in Portugal is almost ready

July 24 2022. FRESH Wasteland concrete in Mafra, Portugal. We reached out to João Sales of Wasteland Skateparks to find out more.  Introduce us to the park - tell us its name, where it is, what kind of park will it be (more street-oriented, just a bowl, a plaza...), its approximate dimensions, if it's already open to the public, that sort of stuff. The initial idea was to build a bowl in the Parque Desportivo Municipal de Mafra sports complex. The project was handed out to a random architect, but the measurements were all wrong and the plan was a bit of a mess. That's when we were contacted to do a budget for the project. We told the city hall that we know the local skater community well. Building a huge bowl in that area would be a mistake, because we have build a flow bowl nearby in Venda do Pinheiro. The boys in the area need some street obstacles there too. So, later the contractor asked us to build a different thing. We made a lot of different proposals and the city hall kept on shrinking the area, until they accepted the final project. There is still no date for the official opening, but it's going to be soon, somewhere in August! The concrete is ready, but the park around it still needs it final touches. So hold your horses for a couple more days. Is there any feature that you're particularly happy with, that came out really nice or is really fun to skate? We kind of feel sorry about the space and feel frustrated because all the decisions made did not evolve the skater community in the Mafra area. Anyway, we were able to turn a small park into a fun little set of good quality concrete.  Any dream trick or link you'd like to see go down in any of the park's features or areas? We hope to see happy faces at the park. Hopefully the park will provide an area were local kids can progress. That would be a "dream trick" for us. Visit Mafra Skatepark Visit Wasteland Skateparks

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