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The skate deck itself is one of the most memorable things in the setup that keeps us rolling. The graphic's are what makes us choose the board we ride and is a keepsake of some of the best memories looking back. A graphic is the best way to place a time frame on a memory. The people who design the graphics sometimes remain nameless and faceless, but Todd Bratrud has Been doing this for 20+ years creating graphics for some of the best in the game! Read up on his history below.
Interview by BB Bastidas
BB: How did you get into doing skate graphics?
TB: I started skateboarding in 1989 and I was instantly into the art. I always liked drawing, but I never had a reason to be doing it so I didn’t really try too hard. Once I started looking at Thrasher and saw cool graphics and cool shit in there, I started to emulate that stuff more and more. I grew up skating in a small rural town, and in 94’ I moved to Minneapolis where there was a skate scene and got involved with one of the skate shops called Phobia. They were starting to make shop boards and I took a stab at making a few things for them, and that was where it all started for me, making stuff for the local shop.
BB: Who was one of your favorite skate artists when you were younger?
TB: Right away when I started skating I was paying attention to Sean Cliver. I remember looking at Thrasher and seeing Powell running ad’s looking for artists and Sean Cliver won it and started doing graphic for Powell. He had dope ideas and backed it up with good art. He was probably the first skateboard artist that I was down for. Who is your favorite skate artist currently? Honestly, probably Cliver still. I am lucky to work with him on a few of his brands and being able to see first-hand how he operates and the shit he is working on I would say that he is still someone that I really enjoy seeing what he is up to. He’s kinda always been the main dude to me and he hasn’t slowed down.
BB: What has been one of your more memorable collaborations?
TB: Working with CREATURE has always been super fun, I've done a lot of stuff with them for years and years now. The art direction comes from everywhere within that brand, not just from the art director (Lee Charron) but the team also and they all have weird ideas. I find myself doing a lot of stuff that is outside the realm of my usual art which I think is cool.
BB: What’s a brand that you think is holding it down right now? I like the brands that don’t seem to follow along but do their own shit. Polar is dope. I like that they are doing their own thing, that why it’s so dope. You can tell that they are hyped off doing their own shit and that’s what’s cool. I also like that they are using hand drawn shit and not just putting photos they find on the internet together like a lot of brands seem to be doing right now. It has a hands on feel.
BB:What’s some advice for an aspiring skate artist?
TB: I’d say patience and persistence is the main thing. Don’t get discouraged on something you do not working out the first time. Keep making the art you love and keep showing it to the brands you like. Your art only gets better so keep making the shit you like that is enjoyable to make so when it works out you can be doing the shit you are truly into.
A brief look back at some of Todd favorite board graphics he's designed
Purple Chemtrails - 2016
Forrest Edwards - 2016
Mouth Harp - 2017
Ry Rey - 2015
Silent Stump, Jim Phillips tribute - 2015
Old Blue - 2015
Elmo Pad - 2014
Chocolate Skateboards - 2016
Familia Skateboard Shop - 2008
Kenevil - 2007
Teeth - 2006
Wolf - 2008
GreenDay Flower - 2006
Dove - 2002
Bloody Wrench - 1998