Thursday, December 16, 2010


Say whatever you want about Glen E. Friedman, the typically-irascible photographer and activist, but the fact remains that his work speaks for itself.

Last month, Nine Four One Gallery in San Francisco hosted the latest incarnation of Friedman's Fuck You All. Complemented by an assortment of paintings and prints by Shepard Fairey, the show is a testament to the amazing influence of self-empowerment via skateboarding, punk and hip hop culture.

Above is a great piece that montages the show via

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


There's a short clip of Rebel Truce circulating on the interwebs. It's the latest biopic of the only band that mattered, The Clash. It features a lot of footage from Don Letts' archives, but besides that, I don't know much about the film.

I can't wait to see it in it's entirety....

Friday, December 10, 2010

Bob Lake

Here's a recent clip of Bob Lake doing what he enjoys, carving concrete and destroying coping. Bob is one of my all time favorite skaters and a true underground, East Coast legend (who now resides in SF).

20 years ago, Bob allowed me to stowaway in his VW Westfalia and we did a three week, DIY, cross country skateboarding tour. It was my very first trip west of the Mississippi, and we skated some legendary spots; from Embarcadero and Bryce's warehouse in SF, to Mt Baldy in LA, the Tijuana Park in Mexico and countless backyard pools along the way, Bob destroyed every spot we hit.

Thanks, Bob.

Friday, December 3, 2010


"...ever get the feelin' you've been cheated?"

Monday, November 15, 2010


This is a preface to an upcoming post I'll be doing soon in regards to the secret, online archive of Harmony in My Head, Henry Rollins' radio show. On February 12, 2008, Ian MacKaye was the guest host and put together a GREAT playlist and shared some amazing stories about the early DC skate scene.

I can assure you this will be the coolest thing you've heard in a long while, so make the time to download the episodes and have a listen! TEAM SAHARA!

Ian MacKaye on HIMH, part one of four

Ian MacKaye on HIMH, part two of four

Ian MacKaye on HIMH, part three of four

Ian MacKaye on HIMH, part four of four

Here's the setlist-

01. Cheech & Chong - Earache My Eye
02. Ted Nugent - Motor City Madhouse
03. Van Halen - Atomic Punk
04. Aerosmith - Toys In The Attic
05. The Clash - What's My Name
06. The Damned - Noise, Noise, Noise
07. The Bad Brains - Black Dots
08. The Teen Idles - Teen Idles
09. Minor Threat - (I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone
10. SOA - Blackout
11. Black Flag - I've Had It
12. Void - My Rules
13. The Ruts - West One (Shine On Me)
14. Trouble Funk - Pump Me up


above photo by Glen E. Friedman, from the archives of Thrasher Magazine.

Monday, October 25, 2010

By The Sword Fall 2010 Decks

Our By The Sword Fall 2010 decks are in stock and shipping now. Included are four new Mike Vallely signature models, in various sizes and colors. Direct, online order can be place via Regulator Distribution. ORDER HERE.

I'm very proud of all of the designs and it's an honor to join the ranks of VCJ, Mark McKee, Todd Francis and many others that have done signature graphics for Mike V.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Craig Stecyk III

If I had to think about what I was doing, I wouldn't do anything at all. -C.R. Stecyk III

Craig Stecyk is a fascinating creative force, mysterious and enigmatic, whose influence on skateboarding culture is nothing less than profound. He's still out there- lurking under the pier, wandering the junkyards, shuffling to the rhythm of his own drum-and that makes me happy.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

By The Sword Fall 2010 Tees

By The Sword Fall 2010 tees are in stock and now available for direct online purchase at Regulator Distribution.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Don Letts

The legendary Don Letts interviewed and sharing some inspiring words about music, self-empowerment, Punky Reggae Party, the Roxy, the state of contemporary hip hop and more.


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

By The Sword Fall 2010

Mike Vallely and I have just released the very first catalog for our joint start-up, By The Sword. Mike wrote an intro for the catalog:

Conceptually "By The Sword" is an idea that I think all skateboarders can relate to. The act of skateboarding is always a trial by fire, a ritual act that no matter what one's skill level is, tests us every time we ride. It's the actual act of riding that separates us physically and mentally from the pedestrians (non-skaters) and sets us apart. It's not sport and it's not art, it's skateboarding. And to me it is a sacred act, a sacred culture and not just some industry of supply and demand where products are just churned out and have no soul. If skaters are just consumers, and skateboarding is just some pastime and our motivation is only fame and fortune and we move as a herd, we miss the point entirely. WIth the best intentions I have gone far into the fog to try and shine some light but that time is over, it's done. I'm now standing back where I started with a clean slate and it feels good.

This first offering of By The Sword product is the beginning of a new season in my life and in my skateboarding where I am certain of the point and where my fingerprint touches everything we do as a brand. This is me, this is skateboarding and this is who we are at our very best, as skaters... By The Sword.

----Mike V.

It's a humble (small) collection, consisting of six board graphics, four tees and a handful of screenprinted posters and stickers. Needless to say, it's been a long and difficult process. there were moments that I felt like it would never materialize; but now it's done and it out here, circulating on the web.

Mike and I are both very proud of it and hope it does well enough (commercially) to grow and prosper for years to support us and go buy our stuff.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Care The Most

I was recently commissioned by Eric Hirshberg to help him realize his vision in executing a unique, large format serigraph. His copy, "Care The Most", embodies his working philosophy as a Creative Director. His willingness to wield the 60" squeegee during the creation of these oversized, hand-pulled prints attests to that...Thanks Eric.

"Care The Most" signed and numbered by Eric Hirshberg, 2010, edition of 1 (2 AP's, 1 PP), 44" x 60" on hand-deckled 582# Somerset, 100% cotton rag

Sunday, August 29, 2010


It's been a very busy month and I see nearly 30 days have passed since my last entry, my apologies. There are lots of new art/design developments to share, so I will start with FMC.

I'm pleased to casually announce that I will be teaming up with Ian Barry and Amaryllis Knight at Falcon Motorcycles to execute some design work for them. No, not mechanical design, but rather, visual design, as they begin to develop a humble line of Falcon apparel and merchandise.

Ian and Amaryllis are absolute fanatics when it comes to all things culturally-informed, inspired and authentic. Not to mention, they are hand-crafting some of the most unique and desirable two-wheeled machines on the planet...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

DECLASSIFIED / By The Sword Skateboards

Just in case you weren't already privy, Mike Vallely and I recently announced the creation of our own skateboard company, By The Sword. This project has been underdevelopment for many, MANY months, and I have even hinted at right here a few times. It has been a huge relief being able to finally put this project into my 'Declassified' file and share it with everyone.

Below is the official press release that we issued to the public one week ago, July 13, 2010.

Mike Vallely Announces the Creation of By The Sword Skateboards

Los Angeles, CA--July 13, 2010--Legendary professional skateboarder, Mike Vallely has created a new, independent skateboard company, By The Sword Skateboards. Vallely has partnered with artist and long-time skateboarder, Jason Filipow, who will serve as Creative Director for this start-up brand. The two have worked together on a number of projects in the past, but this is the first time Vallely and Filipow have combined their collective talents and passions for skateboarding.

As a co-sponsor of Vallely's upcoming 'Glory Bound Tour', By The Sword Skateboards is debuting their first product offering, a deck entitled "DIY or DIE". The graphic, designed by Filipow, speaks to the inspiring and empowering abilities of authentic, do-it-yourself initiative. The boards feature a bold, three-color graphic, which have been manufactured and screenprinted in the USA. The "DIY or DIE" board will be ridden by Vallely during the tour and will be available for purchase at each of the tour stops.

The 'Glory Bound Tour', which is also sponsored by Good Fight Entertainment, Landshark Wheels, Fuel TV and, features Vallely skateboarding alongside Duane Peters, Bill Danforth, Kristian Svitak and Cyril Jackson. It is scheduled to make more than 25 stops at skateparks across the United States from July 18, 2010 through August 18, 2010.

Mike Vallely, also known as Mike V, has been an active and relevant professional skateboarder since 1987. He has played a defining role in the evolution of street skating, skateboard tricks, shapes and graphics. He has traveled the world as an ambassador for skateboarding, asserting the authenticity of skateboarding as a creative pursuit and a form of self expression. He sees this new brand as an extension of his work as a professional skater.

Vallely states, "The DIY spirit that has driven me as a skateboarder and as a professional skater hasn't always lined up through the years with the reality of who my sponsors happen to be. It's always been something that has weighed heavily on my mind. My own independence in skateboarding has been crippled at times by the demands and whims of my sponsors. I'm just not interested in that game anymore. It's simply time for me to put my money where my mouth is and to truly do my own thing."

"Once I decided I had to do this brand, and that I had to do it independently, it was important for me to find the right artist and designer to help shape this vision. I had to look no further than Jason Filipow."

"Through my years of knowing and working with Jason, he and I have really connected. In many ways, By The Sword is just an actualization of the conversations Jason and I have had about skateboarding and how much we love and value it. To us, skateboarding is still a sacred, ritual act. We want our products to speak of and represent these ideals."

Jason Filipow, also known as JRF, has been an underground creative force within the art and design world for many years. With a long history of involvement in creative pursuits, Filipow began designing and making his own stickers, t-shirts, stencils and 'zines as early as 1985. A passionate and dedicated skateboarder himself, Filipow has followed Vallely's career from the moment Vallely burst onto the scene by appearing on the August 1986 cover of Thrasher Magazine.

Filipow recalls, "When Mike appeared on the cover of Thrasher, I identified with him immediately. Here was a fellow East Coast kid, who was boldly pioneering his own type of skating; one that didn't rely upon the inaccessible, and sometimes nonexistent, terrain of backyard ramps and pools. His skating thrived within the sprawling, suburban wasteland of shopping mall parking lots, curbs and walls so familiar to the skateboarders outside of California."

As Creative Director, Filipow employs a variety of aesthetics and techniques to help bring the brand to life visually. The "DIY or DIE" deck is his first completely independent, and widely-distributed, skateboard design. He states, "Skateboard graphics are such a crucial ingredient to the act of skateboarding. They must possess that unique visual and visceral punch that gets you stoked and begs to be sessioned."

"Working together with Mike to forge the foundation of By The Sword has been an amazing experience. Starting it completely on our own has been challenging, but the reward of retaining complete creative control makes it all worthwhile. We have the freedom to guide our brand and our products in any direction we wish. It's that kind of freedom that really speaks to the spirit of skateboarding."

Since 2004, Filipow has lived and worked in Los Angeles, balancing a workload of commercial design and fine art. As former Creative at Studio Number One, Filipow's client list included Honda, Adidas, Nike/Air Jordan, Fox Pictures, Swindle Magazine, Obey Clothing, Independent Film Channel, Dangerbird Records and Fender Guitars Custom Shop.

Currently working as a freelance designer, Filipow has most recently worked with House Industries, Six Stair Productions, Royal Elastics, Obey Giant Art, Poster Child Prints, Hurley International, and RRock Enterprises.

About By The Sword Skateboards

By The Sword Skateboards, formed in 2010 by Mike Vallely and Jason Filipow, is an independently owned and operated company. Their mission is to directly inspire and empower young people through the profound and positive influence of skateboarding. By The Sword features decks, apparel and related products that are designed and created exclusively in the USA. The company is based out of Los Angeles, California and distributed by Regulator Distribution in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

For more information on By The Sword, visit them online at

Friday, July 16, 2010

Sound Advice JRF @ TWBE

Music is a HUGE part of my daily life. I tend to spend almost all of my waking hours working on creative art/design projects. This practice is typically done in alone and inside my humble studio. One luxury of this type of self-inflicted exile is being able to listen to music all day long, whatever I might feel like at any given point and any volume. Music often feeds inspiration to my adventurous imagination and can serve as a catalyst for developing new ideas.

For some unknown reason (??!!), somebody at The Worlds Best Ever thought it would be a good idea to have me submit my own playlist. So I pondered the invite for about 0.0009 seconds and started slamming my brain....

What to choose?
Which version?
Too obscure?
Do I even have that in digital form?
Only 15 songs? (DAMMIT)
You get the idea.

I am not a DJ of any sort, just a music fanatic. Instead of fretting to create an overconceptualized and coherent playlist, I just decided to pull tunes that have in my daily rotation the past few months.

Now go download it and enjoy. Below is what was strung together...

Sound Advice 61: JRF

01. Wasted by Black Flag
02. Question Authority by Drunk Injuns
03. Attitude by Bad Brains
04. Bloodstains by Agent Orange
05. The Ceiling by SNFU
06. Fix Me by Iggy Pop
07. Johnny Appleseed by Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros
08. To Hell With Poverty by Gang of Four
09. Bad Life by PIL
10. Alternative Ulster by Still Little Fingers
11. Paranoid Chant by Minutemen
12. What Gets Heard by Firehose
13. Shoot You In The Back by Motorhead
14. Police & Thieves by Junior Mervin
15. Know Your Rights by The Clash

Monday, July 5, 2010


During my 'field' trip to Screamin' Inc last week, owner/operator Chicken blew my mind by casually yanking this plank of skateboard history out from behind a of Hosoi's early Hammerhead prototypes from 1985. Chicken said it's a deck that Holmes used to defeat Bony Squawk during one of those infamous NSA Finals battles at Del Mar.

The other thing that was so shocking (besides laying the deck down next to a vintage issue of Thrasher featuring a McTwist sequence of Holmes on the very same board), was how completely flat the board was. Almost NO concave at all...combined with the fact if was the most thrashed out pro stick I have ever seen; check the razor tail and grip job.

Too sick.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Screamin' Inc

Looking forward to this afternoon....heading down with the crew to visit Chicken at Screamin' Inc (dig on the Jim Phillips-illustrated logo above!). He's one of the last remaining American companies out there that still does 'old fashioned' screenprinting on skateboards. Can't wait to see thisstuff in action.

Just the harbinger....more info coming soon!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Eames Inspiration

Back in April, I was fortunate enough to get guided tour of the entire (exterior AND interior) of the Eames Case Study House in Santa Monica. In addition the Josef Albers painting that was casually hanging in a hallway of the home, the other unexpected inspiration in the home was Charles Eames' personal 'copy' (one of the very first ever produced) of the Eames Lounger. The leather on the chair was as ragged, patinaed and worn as baseball glove, and incredibly beautiful.

Fortunately, after a few months of hunting online and several auctions lost, my wife and I are bringing home a second-hand Eames Lounger of our own today. And thanks to some helpful advice from a friend, I'll be able to manage the disassembly/reassembly process to transport the item in the back of our station wagon. (Thanks Andy!)

I can't wait to spend a few hours reviewing some of my favorite reference books in the comfort of this beauty...

Monday, June 14, 2010


I dug this gem out of the archives today....not sure why, probably just curious to see it again. It was the first piece of what would develop into my most thorough, inquisitive and defining body of work (Nonrepresentational Photographs), spanning from Summer 1992, to present. I totally abandoned the use of cameras to create works that were neither windows, nor mirrors. Just complete, physical fact.

The Black Piece was catalyzed by a number of factors, including increasing frustration with photography's notions of truth and beauty. I was also deep into my studies (at SCAD) of 20th Century Photography and completely immersed in Crisis of the Real by Andy Grundberg. I was also fortunate enough to have several, very supportive instructors at the time, Professor Tom Fischer and Professor Pete Christman....

How does the Black Piece appear to me today? I'm not sure, so maybe that's why I find it so interesting.

Above: JRF, Black Piece, toned silver gelatin prints, tape, push pins, 88" x 72", 1992.

Monday, June 7, 2010


Whenever I am at a loss for that hint of creative inspiration, I can always rely on the work of Rauschenberg to stimulate my imagination. I never tire of reviewing his massive and varied collection of prints, paintings, sculptures, relatively obscure publication that really highlights his raw and playful sense of graphic design is Rauschenberg Posters.

Above is a cliche verre, which literally translates to 'glass picture'. (It's essentially a spin on the technique of photograms, which was pioneered by Moholy-Nagy and Man Ray in the early 1900's). Beautiful and complex results from an ancient (in terms of photo history) and analog technique...combined with some primitive typography and the result is a completely refreshing print design to announce an exhibit.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Thrasher's Montage

From Grosso's slider, anything by Chris Miller, Duane Peters on edge and youngster Ben Raybourn throwin' it down.


Thankfully, the bruised and battered Master of Disaster, Duane Peters was there, doing what he does best.....staying on edge. Duane's determination and trademark, sketchy style earned him a 5th place finish in the Masters Division at the 2010 ProTec Pool Party. DP finished just ahead of other notable legends, Christian Hosoi, Jeff Grosso, Lester Kasai, Steve Alba, Ben Schroeder and more...Cab took the win, followed by Miller, Lance and Nicky Guerrero.

I didn't get a chance to talk to Duane on Saturday, but I occasionally read his Twitter page and website (which is always a very surreal experience). It made me happy to read Duane's own words, right after the Masters Final, in response to his afternoon (edited for clarity, punctuation, spelling):

"I just wanna say that I am so fucking grateful to be on the planet still and to skate with all the Old Guys and all the Pros! It means everything to me! It is the best feeling and I get so high off the whole atmosphere of it all! It's the most familiar, good feeling I know of...when I'm driving home every problem I have is gone for a few hours because I'm loaded out of my mind on skate(boarding)!!! Doctors should prescribe the shit because it is better than any anti-depressant I've ever had. I hope I can, for once, always remember that, day-by-day, as we roll-on thru this rad crazy life!"

-Duane Peters, May 23, 2010

Congrats DP and enjoy Hawaii!

Above photo MRZ©2010 from

    Grosso's Mind-Blowing Slider

    I hit the 6th Annual Vans/ProTec Pool Party last Saturday primarily for two reasons:

    1. Witness two true legends Chris Miller and Duane Peters destroy Upland Combi replica.
    2. Watch 'Blocks for Bucks' competition, and see Grosso either A) boardslide, or B) 50/50 the entire circumference of the Round Bowl...needless to say, I was rewarded by witnessing this in person.

    Nobody else was even close to duplicating the 28 blocks Grosso covered...and it was a great moment to feel the entire building erupt with stoked cheers as Grosso rode out of it. Photo courtesy of MRZ at

    Monday, May 10, 2010


    A small selection of cast off, silkscreened test prints from the past few weeks of work...these serve as organic (chaotic) compositional and color studies during the creative process. Some gems on newsprint have 10-12 pulls/colors each and are completely unique, 1/1. If you dig these types of test prints, there are some similar ones still available for purchase here.

    Friday, May 7, 2010

    Ex Original / Design Is Blank

    And so am I...

    Thanks to the folks over at the new site, Design Is Blank, for their recent interview. It's a privilege to have an opportunity to share some of my perspectives and experiences with fellow creatives. The read is a little lengthy (clever sound bytes are NOT my game), so be patient.

    Monday, May 3, 2010


    Classified prototype/one off that is a continuing evolution of the Daditionary Series, this time with a bit more craft, a bit more focus, and much more fluorescent ink.

    Friday, April 30, 2010

    Paradox of Advertising

    For large scale, outdoor advertising, digital printouts on vinyl may be faster, cheaper and more disposable, but does that make them inherently 'better'? Check the video above that compassionately makes the case for the fading craft of hand-painted signage...

    Thursday, April 29, 2010

    By The Time I Get To Arizona...

    In protest to the refusal of local Arizona government to observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 1991, Public Enemy put this jam together and demanded a boycott of the state. Due to the current (and completely ill) sociopolitical legislature happening again in Arizona, I think it's time to revisit this righteous number by Chuck D and the boys.

    Wednesday, April 28, 2010

    Tuesday, April 27, 2010

    Benny Gold

    Congrats to fellow skateboarder, SCAD alum and SF resident Benny Gold on the grand opening of his first retail space. Benny has been quietly doing a signature line of apparel for a few years now and is known for his quality design work. Check out his site/store at

    Wednesday, April 21, 2010

    DIY America / Graffiti: Part One

    Aaron Rose along with Weiden Kennedy Entertainment continue their DIY America Series, this time exploring the empowering allure of traditional graffiti. Note the relatively rare footage of Stecyk doing his thing...

    Tuesday, April 20, 2010

    DIY America / Skate and Create Continued

    These recent episodes of DIY America series focusing on the topic 'artists' and 'selling out' skateboarding...note the footage of Fausto Vitello, the legend who gave birth to both Independent Truck and Thrasher Magazine (RIP).

    Reference Library / CLASSIFIED 2010

    A selected assortment of reference/inspirational/influential imagery for a long-term design project I am working on...