Inside My Art: With Art of Board Co-Founder, Bruce Boul
Art of Board is about carving your own path. Whether it’s in the streets, the surf, or the space you’re in right now. Inspired by art from reclaimed skateboards, our designs celebrate the obsession of life’s ride.
By reclaiming the past, we create a new future.
An office furniture salesman longing for more than what corporate life could offer, Rich Moorhead dreamed of opening a skateboard shop in his hometown of rural Hanover, PA. When he decided to go for it, that dream would take a paradoxical turn. When he learned that no commercial landlord in Hanover would rent to him — fearing skateboarders would have a negative impact on the community — he found the clues to his destiny in a most unexpected place — a pile of broken skateboard decks in his garage. In that moment, he saw parallels between himself and the pile. Broken, but not finished. Worn, but with so much potential. He noticed the beauty in their destruction. The vibrant colors. The brush-stroke-like scrapes. The stories. At that moment he decided to embark on a journey that would stoke his untapped creative talent and create a sustainable design brand like no other. Realizing that skateshops accumulated large quantities of broken decks, Art of Board was born. Rich developed his concept of transforming the recycled material into the brand’s original reclaimed skateboard wood tile, which would later become the signature aesthetic for AOB. Armed with a lifetime of passion for skateboarding/surf culture, music, fashion and years of creative experience in the PR/ad business, I partnered with Rich Moorhead shortly after Art of Board began. Since then, I Ride I Recycle launched (the brand’s national skateboard recycling movement).
We have launched various collections of our reclaimed skateboard wood tiles, and several collections of ceramic and porcelain floor tiles with the high res imagery of the reclaimed decks transferred onto the material. We are also launching commercial fabrics and wallpaper this summer.
The Art of Board Artistic Process:
Reclaimed wood comes to us from our network of 400 skate shops across the U.S. who participate in recycling broken/cracked and dilapidated decks from their customers. It’s the skateboard community and these local shops who fuel our brand. That is why we are dedicated to giving back to the skateboarding. Our philanthropy includes donating funds and product to Tony Hawk Foundation to help raise money to build skateparks in low income areas. We are not just a tile manufacturer. We are designers and we not only design tile, we also design custom work for hospitality, commercial, retail customers. In addition to our hard surface collections, we create proprietary patterns from our digital library of reclaimed skateboard imagery. These patterns are designed after working with clients and become wall features, murals, prints on any substrate (metal, wood, etc), wallpaper, etc. We have also created designs for Pennyboard and a boy’s collection for Element Skateboards that featured our patterns. For our tile collections, we create those based on season, color and design trends. We are very immersed in the architecture and design world and our mission is to create designs that are unique, tell a story, and that people have never seen before.
Finding Our Audience:
We are very involved in both the skateboard industry/community AND the architecture/design industry/community. Our audience for I Ride I Recycle is skaters, skate shops, and skate manufacturers. Skate shops like having a solution for the piles of wood they would otherwise throw away. Same with manufacturers and large skate/surf brands. In addition to the local core skate shops, some of the brands who supported IRIR over the years are Vans, Element, Zumiez, Skate One (Powell & Peralta), Absolute Board Company (Pennyboard, Z-Flex). We also attend skate events throughout the year such as Tony Hawk’s Stand Up for Skate Parks, Vans U.S. Open of Surfing, and others. In addition, we attend and exhibit at action sports trade shows like Agenda and Surf Expo. We are also members of the International Association of Skateboard Companies and have worked with them for several years. Each year the IASC has a skateboarding summit for skate businesses and it closes with the Hall of Fame induction ceremony, which we are very involved in. On the architecture and design side of our business, we exhibit at ICFF in NYC every year. This show is all about the latest and greatest in interior design. We will also be exhibiting at the NeoCon design show in Chicago this June. We have been featured in several magazines in both the skate and design industries. We were also featured on HGTV and The Science Channel and Discovery Channel International. Our AOB customers are those in the architecture and design industry who are designing hotels, restaurants, corporate office design, retailers. We also have residential customers who want AOB designs in their home.
Our Director of Sales, Susanne Andrey is an expert in working with hospitality, commercial and retail spaces. She networks with those in the Architecture and Design industry. When interior designers and/or architecture firms have a project where they want to use AOB designs, they call Susanne and either place an order, OR we will work with them to customize something. Some of our clients have included California Pizza Kitchen (we designed for 9 locations so far), Macy’s in Herald Square NYC, Google, Monster Energy corporate offices, Red Bull corporate offices, Board & Brew restaurants in San Diego and Orange County, Quicken Loans, and many more!
The Impact of Art of Board:
We’ve saved over 50,000 skateboard decks from landfill, and we’ve donated over $30,000 to the Tony Hawk Foundation. It’s rewarding in many ways because in addition to the environmental and philanthropic impact we can have, we’re also preserving the beautiful graphics on these decks, which once scuffed up by a skater, become like brush strokes on a painting. We’ve taken skateboarding boldly where it has never been before–to hospitality, commercial and retail spaces in a TRULY AUTHENTIC way. Also, by being at the grassroots level (skateshops) with our movement (IRIR), we have been able to get kids interested in recycling.
More on — I Ride I Recycle Initiative:
We work with a network of about 400 skate shops around the U.S. We have a UPS database and whenever one of our shops has decks to send in, they contact us and we email them pre-paid shipping labels. The shops box the wood waste up in their leftover cardboard boxes and they arrive at our Hanover, PA facility where they will be photographed (for our digital design library) and then cut for tile surfaces. Some of our larger shops have a recycling bin (we created the first ever skateboard recycling bin). Other shops simply collect the wood in their back rooms. We have recycling contests with our shops too. Winners can receive a complete set up, gift certificates, etc., which AOB pays for as a way to give back to the shops. Much more info at irideirecycle.com. Shops and skaters can sign up to participate on that website.
Collaborating with Musicians and Athletes:
We have done some cool things for Tony Hawk. We installed our wood tiles in his office in Vista, CA. We also designed a tabletop for his RIDE Channel Weekend Buzz set. Mike McGill is a good friend and supporter. We installed a large feature wall in his skateshop in Encinitas, CA. We’ve also worked with Mimi Knoop and Mike Vallely in the past. We did a nameplate for Jeff Ament from Pearl Jam, which was something we do every year for the Tony Hawk Foundation board of directors. Jeff is on the board this year, and each member gets a nameplate for their meetings. It’s always an honor and privilege to design those for such influential artists, musicians, athletes, innovators and entrepreneurs that Tony assembles to be on his board.
Where You Can Find Us:
To join IRIR or to learn more, visit irideirecycle.com
See us at ICFF in NYC May 21–24 where we’ll be launching our latest collections called Beautiful Rebellion!
Also see us at NeoCon in Chicago June 12–14
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~Feature in collaboration with/produced by: Jeff Gorra
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