Some may accuse me of harboring a bias toward the old Powell-Peralta boards and, to be perfectly honest, they'd be entirely right in doing so. However, my appreciation for the graphics of other companies that were not only screened on boards but imprinted upon the collective consciousness of the '80s skateboard generation is no less diminished. So many graphics from this era had a far slower turn around than the quarterly spin cycle of present time designs that they often lingered in production for well over a year or more, thus allowing for repeated and routine appearances on the shop racks. This, of course, left plenty of time for the images to seep in and form long-lasting, indelible mindstains on impressionable little shits like myself. Okay, that was admittedly a bit too arty in phrasing (perhaps even sentence structure), but in this one thematic instance I think it's forgivable.
My hometown skate shop, Silver Spoke, was more or less my second home in 1986–87. Not a day went by that I didn't hang out in the hybrid bike/skate shop to zone out on the psychedelic array of boards in a stoner-like daze, even though I'd had no formal drug training at the time. Like most young skateboarders, I was highly opinionated without good reason and quick to spout off about anything I thought was lame, and I'm pretty sure the Vision brand was the subject of those half-assed tirades from time to time. The Agent Orange model excepted, the Vision graphics struck me as something for those who listened to Depeche Mode, New Order, or The Cure, maybe The B-52s, none of which I listened to then. I was relatively sheltered in my musical tastes and, for the most part, all about The Misfits and Samhain. Although obviously there was no way in hell I was going to compromise my modest ability to ollie with one of those ridiculous coffin-shaped Plan 9 boards. I mean, I was dumb for sure but not stupid.
Even though I may have periodically railed on Vision (and everything else, to be fair), I still have very fond memories of the Guardian model, as this was one of those stand-out graphics that when I first set foot in Silver Spoke and spotted it on the wall I knew I was "home".
The Vision Guardian, designed by John Grigley, was spawned from the original Old Ghosts board, an "experiment" of sorts distributed by Vision Sports in 1984–85 (a series of quarter-page ads for this board first start appearing in the April 1985 issue of Thrasher), and it really was unlike anything else at the time with its two-color half-tone print of a layered, spray paint-stenciled, inverse image. So the story goes from John, there were approximately 300 of these Old Ghosts boards produced on the original Sims Christian Hosoi shape that he was skating then. This wasn't a pro model, though, nor was the soon to be full-fledged Vision Guardian—in a sense making it one of the first purely original "artist models" in skateboarding.
I can't help but think that when Glenn Danzig was singing about wanting skulls to put on his wall he might've been crooning about Grigley's Guardian. I mean, I'm a diehard Powell-Peralta and Zorlac collector, but I'd have no problem whatsoever in hanging one of these on my wall beside them. It is, after all, a keystone of mid-'80s skateboard graphics*.
If I'd had an infinite amount of pages to play around with in The Disposable Skateboard Bible, I certainly would've included more colorway variants of the Guardian—specifically the "official" John Grigley pro model version from 1987–88. I don't know if it was poor ventilation or what, but the Vision screening department was definitely not afraid to to experiment with blends, overlays, and split-fountains, the colorful result of which always made the graphics seem fresh and new no matter how long they'd been in production.
* In 2003, Vision reissued the Guardian with a full white dip. Just something to be aware of if you're on the NOS hunt.