Obviously Lance Mountain is known first and foremost as a skater. But, he’s an artist, too, whether he formally accepts the title or not. I took a stroll through his show at Heavyweight Art + Design Gallery and called him to pick his brain about his work. From Variflex and Powell graphics to Suicidal Tendencies, the Firm and countless other projects, it’s clear the title applies, but only as much as he lets it.
Art from the artist Skypage.
How long have you been drawing and painting as a serious hobby? For as long as I can remember. My dad was very artistic. He was born in England, came here to the U.S. and did window displays for Macy’s. He collected military stuff and I used to do drawings of his helmets when I was in 3rd and 4th grade.
Clockwise from left: Designer Thomas Yu’s few pieces—Lance in a bee suit, a sketch of Lance Jr., Knitwit and HeelBruise elephant.
We always had little projects going and we’d do prints of his helmets when I was ten or eleven years old. By that time, I was skating, so I was drawing skateboard pictures. In ’81, I was hanging out with Neil Blender and I got heavily influenced and made little magazines. Then, I started doing ads for Skate City [skatepark] and for Variflex, so as long as I can remember.
Where did your little creatures come from, like the smiley face guys, the ones that looked dripped? That actually came from the time when graphics changed around the end of the ‘80s. Everything went from graphic- and logo-driven—which is the way I think it should be, by the way—to a simpler style of stuff. At that time, I did a graphic from drawings my son did. It was called the Family Man board.
They were drawings my son did of the family, cat and sun and it evolved into me using those images and then when I ran out of those, I started mimicking that style on my own, added color and used it to draw and paint skaters. A lot of other characters went from there.
I didn’t know much about the band at that time, but Glen asked me if I wanted to do a graphic for them. So, Glen was like, “I don’t know how much we can get you for it or not, but I can get you into a Suicidal Tendencies show,” and I’m like, “I don’t really want to see them [laughs].” But, they were playing with the Toy Dolls and I wanted to see them.
I remember finishing the drawings outside the show, went inside and my teeth got chipped in the show. Someone’s head hit my chin and smashed my teeth together. So, that was my payment for those drawings [laughs]. It was an honor, though, to have something 30 years later be part of an iconic history.
Were the scooters vintage scooters or did you make them recently? They’re from Ban This. Stacey [Peralta] had me do all the knickknacks. So, I built those. Most of them got destroyed, but I painted stuff on the ones that were left.
How did you get into recreating pools in your shows? I always made models as a kid—like military stuff. My dad used to be in the military, so we’d make sceneries of the Stalingrad Battle and stuff like that.
I started making fingerboards with my friend Hernan Troya around ’79. I made them for Alva and Elguera—they still have them actually.
At that time, the Combi bowl just got made, so I made a model of it. One day I found out Ben Schroeder was making models for skateparks he was building, so he showed me his method of making them, too. He was the inspiration to do it again.
I had always thought about dropping it into a coffee table so, when I made my model, I put it in a coffee table.
This video collage was done for the show, so I shot a photo of the video. For anyone who can tell me what video this clip is from, I’ll send along a bunch of sticker packs I find around the office and whatever else. Send your answer and mailing address to [email protected] and title the e-mail “Lance Post.”
You’ve done board designs, sticker graphics, pretty much everything, but it seems like it hasn’t been as recognized the same way someone like Gonz or Templeton have. Like you could have the potential to do art on a really mainstream level, but you’ve kind of rejected those things. Was that on purpose? People do make a career out of it. The other day, someone asked me if I started making art after I stopped skating and I didn’t know how to answer that. I mean, I think art’s kind of silly. It’s just something you do, or always do.
We saw Wes Humpston draw on boards. We were constantly doing our own graphics—it was just what we did, not that it was good or anything. And, that built into where I’m at. But, I remember in ’89, after my first kid drawings, I did some art for a show in Chicago.
I didn’t even know what the gallery owner was talking about. But, I sent ten paintings and he said they sold the paintings and he wanted to send me the money. Six or seven of the paintings never made it back until last year, actually. That was pretty funny.
People started asking for it, though, and I couldn’t do it all. It was mostly friends asking for it, so it was weird. Slowly but surely, I kind of had to charge or I couldn’t do it all. I mean, I’ve never set up an art show on my own before. I just haven’t pursued it in that way, because, truthfully, I’m still skateboarding. The reality is, I think people have used my graphics when they needed a price cut [laughs]. I don’t know, I think it just has to be on my own terms.
I know this is a kind of a hard question, but what piece did you like making the most throughout the years? I’d have to say the pools. But, I don’t know. It’s like asking what’s your favorite spot. There’s no favorite spot—the spot today is the best and then tomorrow it’s not.
To learn more about the show, go to HVW8.