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Used skateboard decks are reborn, as art

The Japanese artist Haroshi turns used skateboard decks into functional objects and works of art. Watch the process in this video, courtesy of The Berrics.

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Video courtesy of The Berrics

Professional skateboarders go through a lot of skateboards. Some break, others just lose their rigidity or pop. And just about all of them end up in landfills. But through a collaboration between San Francisco-based skateboard retailer DLX, skateboarder and entrepreneur Keith Hufnagel and Haroshi, a Japanese artist and skater, used boards found new life.

Haroshi collected decommissioned skateboard decks from Hufnagel, as well as from skaters Peter Ramondetta, Dennis Busenitz and Tommy Guerrero, and then transformed them into stunning, artful pieces that reflect their respective owner's interests or personalities.

"I wanted to have a concept behind each of the pieces that I created. I focus on using specific riders' boards to make the art because they have the history of the riders," says Haroshi. "It's all about the impression I have drawn myself, but I listened to what everyone was saying and refined again ideas until deciding what to create."

Haroshi stacks, bends and binds the decks, often grinding them down to reveal their multi-hued composite layers. For some of his sculptures he leaves jagged edges from cracked decks exposed, to convey motion, for instance. That was his approach with Gary, a sculpture of Busenitz's chocolate Labrador Retriever who likes to run behind his owner, who is known for his speedy skating. (Disclosure: Busenitz, and Gary, are acquaintances of mine.)

For Tommy Guerrero, who rose to fame in the 1980s as a member of the Powell Peralta Bones Brigade team, has pursued a second career as a professional musician. So Haroshi turned his old decks into a Telecaster replica guitar.

For Hufnagel, Haroshi created a large replica of a skateboard wheel, with actual wheels posing as bearings. The sculpture is even functional, in that it spins.

A self-taught artist, Haroshi has been making art from skateboard decks for about 9 years. "My skater friends are carpenters, welders, etc., so when I can't figure out how to do something, I ask them to help me out," he says.

Prior to this, he was a jewelry craftsman. "But those were not original works," he says. "[They were] more like work, where I handled orders I received -- for example, a hundred pieces of the same model."

While the pieces are not currently on display, Haroshi will be at the Basel Art Fair in June, and has a show in January at Jonathan LeVine Gallery in New York. "I want to keep creating dope stuff, concentrating on each show," he says.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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