Buddy Carr/AisleOne Interview

Sep 03 '10  /  Filed under Design Interview  Posted by

No one combines beautiful design, typography and longboarding as well as Buddy Carr Skateboards. This company first caught our eye a few years ago with the launch of the Hello deck featuring shape and graphics designed by Antonio Carusone, creator of TheGridSystem.org and Aisleone.net. Since then, two more decks have been produced from the collaboration between Buddy and Antonio — including the stunning L’Esigenza Della Velocitá (Italian for “Need for Speed”) we featured a few months ago. We were intrigued with the partnership between Antonio and Buddy — two people who, at first glance, seem to be very different. Not only do they live across the country from one another, but they’ve never even met. So we asked them if they’d answer a few questions for Ferocious about how their partnership came about and their process for producing some of the most beautiful, unique skateboards on the market.

You guys travel in very different circles‚ Art Director/designer working at a world-class ad agency in New York vs. West Coast skateboarding legend. How did you guys meet and what led to your creative collaboration with Buddy Carr Skateboards?

Buddy: I have always had keen interest in type and numbers and had been doing some research one day and stumbled upon Antonio’s site (aisleone.net) I emailed Antonio asking him if he knew of someone who might want to do some skateboard graphics for the brand i wanted to launch. He replied and said he would love to do something and that’s how it started and how it continues.

Antonio: Buddy and I met through email and actually we haven’t met in person yet. Buddy was looking for a designer to collaborate with and he sent me an email and explained what he wanted to achieve. I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of, and since I skated while growing up, it was a logical match. I’ve always wanted to design graphics for skateboards and I’ve been able to finally do that with Buddy.

On Aisleone.net, Antonio mentioned he helped develop the shape of the “Hello” deck. Is that true of the other boards? Please color in some details about your collaborative process?

Antonio: I only designed the shape for the Hello skateboard, the others were designed by Buddy. Usually Buddy has an idea for a shape and he runs it by me with some high level ideas on what he wants to achieve with the board. From there I take the inspiration from Buddy and work off it. Usually we agree on a concept and then from there I go and put together some rough designs. The shape of the boards plays a large role in influencing the design. For example, Buddy explained to me the idea behind the shape of the 39 board, that it was inspired by classic surf boards. I knew immediately I wanted to create a 60s style graphic, but with a touch of some modern elements. Simple two-tone to compliment the shape. With the Velocita board, it was all about speed, even the shape of the board. We wanted it to resemble a race car, so we went with a classic race graphic. It’s a really collaborative effort which I love.

Buddy: Antonio did shape the Hello model, i allowed him to do the complete board from shape to tape to graphic. On the Thirty Nine and the Velocita i worked on a rough shape and then worked with our sales manager to finalize them both. Our upcoming pool / park model is my shape, it is the exact board i ride and one that i shaped myself, complete with cnc grooves for better grip on certain maneuvers.

When it come to graphics i have a rough idea in mind that i share with Antonio and he elaborates from there.I like to think that i give him a lot of freedom,Antonio is an expert in his field therefore i trust his decisions and direction. There are certain things he has wanted to do but from a production standpoint i have not been able to do some of them …yet.

The brand is 13 months old, we are still laying foundation bricks, growing at a manageable pace and taking time to produce quality products that speak to people. When I have customers requesting touch up paint for their skateboards I know then we have created something special.

Antonio’s original sketches for the “Hello” deck

All BCS decks, apparel, and the site are designed by Antonio on the BCS site (Except for the “Grip Stik” on Tailtap.com).Was that intention for the brand from the beginning? Will it stay that way?

Antonio: When Buddy first contact me he explained that he wanted to do something that hasn’t been done before in the skate industry. There really isn’t a company out there that takes the simple approach to the aesthetics. Keeping the brand simple and clean was definitely intentional and we hope to build on that.

Buddy: I messed around with some ideas several years ago with a couple different artist and realized that the only way to stand out was to be different. Deep down I knew this all along. Thankfully I stumbled upon Antonio and now we are making some truly remarkable products that stand apart.

BCS decks are limited editions of 100 each, right? What happens if you sell out but the demand is still there ‚ a second edition?

Antonio: That’s mainly up to Buddy, but if we do another run we do try to change something with the graphic to make the second run unique from the first. For example for the second run of the Hello board I did a new graphic treatment.

Buddy: Yep, and as demand grows so do our production runs.

The principles of the golden section were used when designing the Velocita’s graphics.

Antonio, We’ve seen snippets of your design work for the new deck that indicate usage of mathematical principles like the golden ratio ‚ a hallmark of your design work and writing on Aisleone.net. Can you fill us in a little more about your graphic design process for the boards? How much does Buddy influence or direct the artwork?

Antonio: For the most part, Buddy leaves the graphics up to me. He definitely has input, but for the most part I get creative freedom which is great. For the Hello and 39 boards I used a very simple grid. For the Velocita, I wanted to try the golden ratio for kicks and it actually worked really well. It definitely helped with the angle of the stripes and the location of the number circle.

What kind of challenges / constraints / etc. you face designing for skate deck vs. web or print?

Antonio: The biggest challenge for me is the limited canvas you have to work with. The tight conditions can easily force you into a bad composition, making the design feel cramped. I’ve found that having elements bleed off gives a sense of openness and created interesting compositions. Plus, you have to take into consideration the truck placement and that portions of the graphic will be covered by them.

Buddy, the clean, simple, typography-based artwork for BCS decks stands out quite a bit from the rest of the longboard crowd. The vast majority of the boards out there go with busy, illustrated or striped themes. Was the simple typographic style Antonio’s done for the BCS boards intentional from the beginning, or is that just the aesthetic that evolved from the collaboration?

Buddy: From the start I wanted something super clean, something that stood apart. Type driven graphics with a modern feel. I like to think not only are our products evolving but are graphics as well.

Buddy Carr’s current lineup: The 39 Longboard, Hello, and the L’Esigenza Della Velocita

The deck shapes are really unique. You can find similar boards out there, but none that are quite the same (or look as good). Is there aniche your trying to fill? For that matter, do you see BCS is actually creating a niche market?

Buddy: I have always ridden decks with shape, to mea skateboard should have a look and have a shape. The board shape plus the graphic is what makes the product whole. The shape should have function as well as some flair. The goal is to offer an alternative to whats currently out there.

So far you have a great variety of decks: a versatile cross-campus commuter deck (“Hello”), a nice pintail carver (“The 39”), and a drop-thru, hill-bombing, carving machine (“L’esigenza Della Velocita”). Can you give us a little glimpse of what’s next in the line up?

Buddy: Next up is the actual pool deck I use. I’ve made some in past (with another artist) but wasn’t happy with the graphic and although it sold okay i knew i wanted it to look completely different than how it did. Now with a few discussion as far as graphic direction Antonio is once again creating something stunning. We should have this one ready to roll out soon.The relationship Antonio and I have is really unique. He and I are 3500 miles apart, we have never met nor has there ever been a phone call,all communication, every idea is digital.A really unique working experiment that is producing truly remarkable products.


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