Jim Phillips artwork on skate decks, speed wheels and the low five: permeating the veil of culture…
Art Chantry (firstname.lastname@example.org):
More people likly have the artwork of Jim Phillips on their skate decks than any other artist. Whenever they write long articles (or short books) on the history of surf/skate/psychedelic/70′s airbrush/underground comic/tshirt/sticker/gigposter etc. etc. art and design, they always leave Jim Phillips out. He’s a christian. izzat why? I dunno.
Jim’s work emerged on surfboards in the early sixties (he was still a kid). As the world shifted gears into the psychedelic era, he was front and center working on everything from hot rod graphics and CARtoons to actually taking on the “art director” gig at the Family Dog Productions in San Francisco, doing all their concert posters toward the end. He produced comic strips that ran in alternative underground papers and entire comic books (christian AND underground). He was doing it all. Yet, we never seem to include him in the list of period masters.
His output branched into the commercial word in serious way in the 70′s when he started doing magazine covers, commercial posters, advertising art, massive amounts of tshirt artwork (iron-on and otherwise). It’s also when he hooked up with Santa Cruz skateboards. from the mid-70′s until today he’s produced the core stylings of virtually every hipster cool skate punk style that emerged from underground skate culture.
His style kept alive the flavors of Griffin and Roth and Dutch. His homages to those older masters appeared unknowingly on skate decks for several generations of young hipsters, turning them on to the old masters without even realizing it. Jim Phillips may have kept the dream alive for every one else to “re-discover” those guys. If nothing else, we need to thank him for that alone.
During the punk rock era, he was active on anything skate as well as posters and record covers and tshirts and logos. He’s one of the very few artists out there to actually survive (and prosper) through each succeeding quantum shift in underground pop culture – surf to beat to hot rod to hippie to arena to glam to punk to to thrash to skate and on and on. Still there, still producing, still selling like nothing ever changes.. his current work still looks like it was done by a contemporary artist and not and ‘ol’ skool’ dude. He’s as relevant and fresh and influential toady as when he started out 50 years ago.
There’s too many classic pieces to cite in a tiny essay. There have been books published about his work (on ‘collector’ publishers – like Schiffer. so strange it’s not a on a ‘legit’ art book imprint). So, to give you a tiny taste of what this guy has done ‘to’ all of us, I’m showing you one of his iconic ‘greatest hits’. it’s a sticker/logo/everything for a line of Santa Cruz’s (then) newly invented skateboard wheels, called “speed wheels”. Everybody has seen this over and over to the point that we assume it’s apiece of clip art or something. It’s actually Jim Phillips.
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