From the moment I first became familiar with the work of Todd Bratrud, I was nothing short of envious. Not only did he show remarkable versatility and skill in what he was capable of doing—from graphic design to illustration—but he had ideas. Lots of them. The provocative kind that make you laugh and recall years later, much like the graphic output of World Industries, Blind and 101 circa 1989–1994. Although Todd had been involved with the industry since 1998 (and I guess I even met him once prior to that during a Big Brother road trip to Minneapolis, MN, in 1997), I didn't really get to know him until 2003 when I interviewed him for Disposable: A History of Skateboard Art and he proved to be a very humble character. Just super stoked to be doing what he's doing and eking out a living from it—the skateboarder/artist's dream life.
Twelve years after first getting his foot in the door over at Consolidated, Todd has finally taken the industry plunge and started up his very own skateboard company: The High Five. I'd once entertained a similar idea four or five years ago with a "Disposable" board brand, but soon gave up in frustration after it was more or less explained to me that boards simply can't be produced the way they once were in the '80s—or at least not without a retail price point of a hundred bucks or more. So, once I'd heard about Todd's new company, I was naturally curious about his plans. Here's what he had to say...
For those that might not be familiar with your past, give me the CliffsNotes version on how you first became involved in the skateboard industry.
Around the late '90s, my roommate Billy Kahn was getting boards from Consolidated. I ended up doing a few graphics for Consolidated while Billy was on the team. After about a year I was asked to move to Santa Cruz and full time "art direct" Consolidated, and that's what I did. I was doing graphics at Consolidated for a solid chunk of years, but eventually left over some Nike SB drama and started doing freelance graphics.