In advance of his workshop: Drawing what you love on 18 November, we spoke to George Yarnton about his passion for skateboarding culture and how it has influenced and fueled his creative career as Head of Design for clothing brand, Hoax 1994.
When did you start skateboarding and when did you realise it was a passion for you?
I think I started skateboarding properly around the age of 13 with some of my school friends. As a small child my sister and I always had some type of skateboard around the house. I distinctly remember an 80s shape Batman and Robin board in our garage and my Dad showing me how to move left to right on it. The actual skate scene in Ipswich through the 90s and early 00's was really big, but I don't think I really understood it fully or became passionate about it until I was a little older and found friends my age that were into it too. I remember first cobbling a "proper" board (that wasn't plastic) from spare parts my friends gave me. Everything was very used and half broken but I couldn't be more happy to have something that felt like the real deal.
Who are your biggest skating inspirations?
I'd say most of my biggest skateboarding inspiration comes a lot from my friends and the local skate scene in Ipswich. The town has a really rich history with skateboarding since the 90s and has produced some really prolific and talented skateboarders like Franklin Stephens, Adam Howe and Dave Davies. I love just being able to skate with my friends, a lot of whom are really creative and make skateboarding videos and shoot photos. Skateboarding is great in that creativity comes naturally with it. We spend years documenting each other through film and photography so we are able to look back and remind ourselves of how much fun we had, whilst also showcasing what we do to others to hopefully inspire them.
Skateboarding culture has a huge influence in your drawing, at what point did you start to merge these two interests?
I think it took me a while to really make any connection between drawing and skateboarding. In school I would draw from skateboard magazines, scribble skateboard logo's over my sketchbooks and so on. Until I got a bit older and went to college to study Art and Design I was introduced to the idea that you could make drawings for skateboarding, whether that be a graphic for a deck or an animation for a video. The more experience I gained with skateboarding culture and drawing I could start to see opportunities where my way of working could fit in with certain brands and companies so I would start reaching out with examples of work via email and instagram. I would say now that the actual act of skateboarding and my drawing are quite separate, however I'm always looking at skateboard graphics, videos, magazines or the clothes people are wearing to influence my practice.
Are there any artists who inspired your drawing style/ creativity?
Like most people I think my interests and influences change over time but I would say my main inspirations come from artists like Funeral French who does a lot of work for bands and skateboarding companies. He makes these very detailed but decrepit drawings of skulls/dragons/crypt keepers that just indulge my inner child. I've always been highly influenced by the artist JIm Phillips who was one of the pioneering skateboard artists of the 80s. He developed nearly all of the most recognisable skateboard graphics for Santa Cruz, Independent Trucks and OJ Wheels, and his attention to detail and skill is incomparable. I was recently asked to contribute artwork for a book of skateboard artists published by a friend of mine in California and Jim Phillips is also going to be in it, so it's very surreal to think I'll be alongside one of my biggest influences ever in printed format!
But outside of skateboard art I'm really inspired by David Hockney and his almost graphic approach to painting. I've spent a lot of my free time of late practicing painting so it's nice to switch off from drawing skulls for t-shirts and painting them instead.
It must have been an exciting moment when you got hired at Hoax 1994, how did this happen and what is it like being able to use your passions as a career?
It was very exciting when I got the offer to work for Hoax full time. I had been working freelance with them for a few years prior and developed a really good working relationship with the brand. The first opportunity came up to work 2 days a week with them and even that small part of the week was really rewarding and made a real difference to the output of products we were able to release. It also actually really helped my teaching practice - I could make almost every lesson like a version of what I would do for work, for example making a Skateboard Project or a Brand Project. I made it more fun and relatable for me to teach the subject and hopefully made it fun for the students too. Once the offer came to work full time for Hoax it was a no brainer. I started officially full time in January this year, so it was a little strange having to move from the office to working from home, but we have made it work. It's amazing being able to make drawing my career now and I'm still learning a lot more in different skill sets.
Workshop: Drawing what you love with George Yarnton
Date: 18 November 2021
Time: 3 – 4pm
Location: Zoom meeting