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Brain Floss: Daniel Howard

Daniel Howard, or @toybox_monster as you might know him, was an immediate follow when someone tagged me in one of his posts. Any skater would be hyped to own one of his three-dimensional plaques made from recycled skateboards. I assumed he was using existing graphics and just cutting them out and layering decks together, which is impressive enough. When I found out he actually hand paints all the graphics, I knew we had to give this man a feature!—Paul Kobriger

Name: Daniel Howard
Instagram: @toybox_monster
City: Phoenix, AZ

Let’s start at the start, how long have you been doing deck sculptures and how did you get into it, what gave you the idea?
I’ve been doing this for about five years now. My friend Hippie Steve was cutting old decks and making them into recycled art and I thought it was so sick! he gave me some advice on how to get started and the encouragement to do so as well. I can’t thank him enough.

Tell me about the process. Do you use new decks or used? Do you use existing graphics or do you actually paint them too?
I used broken/used decks for the pieces. I also hand paint everything. If I’m doing an original piece I will sand the boards I’m going to use, cut out the layers, paint them, and then put the pieces together. If it’s a commissioned piece it’s the exact same process but the client tells me what they want and I make it work. Usually with a fair amount of artistic freedom still.

What is your favorite piece or project?
Oh man, there are so many favorites! I made a Jay Adams inspired piece for Tommy Guerrero, that by far has to be my favorite. When I started skating in 1988 my first pro board was a Guerrero. It was so cool to get to make him something nearly 30 years later. He always looked like he was having so much fun on his board and to this day he’s inspired me to do the same.

Do you do these full-time or do you have a day job too?
Right now I’m trying to do this full time. It seems to be gaining some momentum so hopefully I can keep it up.

How do you choose the pieces you do? So much of it is influenced by 80s and 90s skateboarding iconography. Talk about what that age of skateboarding means to you.
For the past couple of years most of the pieces have been commissioned so the choices have been made for me. I choose how I can accomplish what the client wants with a certain amount of freedom but the main subject is whatever is requested. I feel so much of it has involved the 80s and 90s because those years will always be the most influential as far as skateboard graphics go. Especially the 80s, even people that have never stepped on a board remember those. I started skating late in the 80s but I couldn’t imagine a better time I could’ve started. My friends and I got to skate a concrete ditch, eleven-foot vert ramp, a six-foot mini, as well as six or seven pools and that was just in my neighborhood. Also, right across the street from my house was a high school that closed in the mid 70s. So when street skating became my favorite activity, there was a perfect six-stair rail and some good ledges that were too fun. I’ve had the best time being on a skateboard the past 30 years but everything started and was truly motivated by the late 80s because everything was still so raw and new to me. I only wish every human being could experience that feeling of complete and utter happiness.