Back when I first started this online extension of the Disposable books one of my goals was to begin covering and promoting new skateboard graphics as well as wax off all nostalgic about the old. I sent out a "press release" (if you can even call it that ... it was more like an annoying mass email to a selection of contacts in my address book) to announce this altruistic intent of mine—okay, and to maybe net a few freebies along the way—but few responses came back aside from the usual English quip or two from Don Brown at Sole Technology. Well, a week later I did receive a free copy of the Bones Bridage Video Show Special Edition DVD, so this hasn't been a total wash ... but on the same hand it hasn't exactly flourished into anything beyond a glorified online toilet to flush my occasional burst of sentimental diarrhea. So it goes.
The other day, however, I finally received an honest to god press release. My first one! I'm not special, of course, I know. Lots of other Interweb sites received the very same email and have since plastered it days ahead of me, but it is nice to know I made it onto someone's mailing list—especially when it's that of Alien Workshop, a company whose aesthetic I've long admired and respected. Anyway, the release pertains to an upcoming series of decks showcasing ten iconic pop works of Andy Warhol that are strictly on the up-and-up. By this I mean Alien Workshop actually went ahead and worked directly with the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. to license and produce the designs. That's right, they're not just ripped off in the favored skateboard tradition of yore. Then again, I'm not surprised, because I've always considered Alien Workshop to be the Minor Threat of skateboard companies when it comes to their graphic approach.
What's funny about that chosen Warhol quote—"Art is what you can get away with"—is that it can kind of be twisted to define the skate graphic mentality in the '90s, when a lot of companies got away with a lot of stuff they would never get away with today because the entire industry was very, very much under the radar then. Times have indeed changed, though, and I know of many companies that are no longer so devil-may-care when it comes to biting off more than they can feasibly chew in a copyright court of law.
To be honest, I'm surprised more stuff hadn't been lifted from Warhol's pop art works in the past. Especially since so much of it was ready made for the screen-printing process. A brief dip into my photo archives did elicit the Powell-Peralta Ray Underhill, ca. 1991, which wasn't exactly ripped off but it sure as hell was inspired by one of his famous techniques, making it a minor art heist at best; whereas the & Marilyn Monroe, ca. 1992, and the Maple Marc Johnson, ca. 1996, could both have been stolen right off the wall of an art museum. No doubt there's a wayward soup can or two out there that I'm simply not aware of, but that's just a testament to the time period when graphics were only printed in single batches of 100-200 boards and not seen or remembered by many at all.
For further information on the Alien Workshop/Warhol collaboration: http://www.alienworkshop.com