Interview: Des Rountree

” I’m just making sure we stick away from slapping snakes and skulls into every artwork, but still doing something that is accepted by skaters.”
– Des Rountree

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When did you begin your professional career?

Eternal skateboards was my first professional job. I started working for them about five years ago in July 2009. The guys here have been great to me, giving me opportunities that have really allowed me to grow as an artist, which I’m appreciative for. It was good in the sense that I got thrown into it. I had shown one of my bosses my work and ideas which he liked so it was a great transition into the team because I already had that affirmation that the work I was doing was on the mark.

What is it about deck art that’s most appealing?

Even now, it’s still really challenging. Skate decks are long and thin and I’m a bit of a perfectionist so I’m really conscious of how I use my space. Though, when designing the artwork you have to keep in mind how it will look on decks as well as wheels, t-shirts and other bits.

Do you notice deck art trends in the skate industry? How are you doing things differently?

If you look at the design firms in the United States who are responsible for Plan B, Toy Machine and other companies, you will notice that they use a lot of the same designers. I’m trying to create our own feel so that when people see one of our boards, they know it’s an Eternal deck. I’m just making sure we stick away from slapping snakes and skulls into every artwork, but still doing something that is accepted by skaters.

How do you incorporate typography into your artworks? How do you use them so they compliment each other?

I only recently started dabbling in typography after I read an article on the importance of knowing how to use typography and lettering. From there I just got swept into that world.

These decks are actually the first time I’ve given the combo ago. When sitting down to a piece, I try to think what I want the overall feel of the artwork to have; modern or vintage for example. Then I’ll choose a typeface and work on it using my tablet, meshing and mixing all the elements along the way to make it work.

Would you usually incorporate a message into your artwork? For example, what inspired the Black Sea deck series and the foliage series slogan, ‘Making Trees Cool?’

I just don’t want to create empty, hollow work. It just doesn’t feel right. I read a lot of song lyrics and classic books and I love the power words and stories have to create multiple meanings.

I want to create work that would make a viewer look at it from various standpoints to fully understand it, walking around the different angles as it keeps giving. I try to project moral standards that I strive for or that are lacking in society. So sometimes it comes from that place in the heart that is dark and ghastly.

When I created the concept for the Black Sea series, I envisioned dudes sailing in the sea, trying to find their way out of a place that doesn’t cast any light on their situation.

Another series titled Four Beasts includes an eagle, a man, a lion and an ox. Do you consider yourself a beast?

Laughs. No. Four Beasts was less personal and more based on animals. They all have strong symbolic meaning attached. I wanted to take life lessons from books and lyrics and place them in the symbolism through text which tells a story that, hopefully, people can draw their own meaning from and apply in life. For example, to me, the ox is a sacrifice, the ultimate servant to the farmer.

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For more from Des Rountree, visit his portfolio web page or check out his Vimeo channel and learn about other cool projects Des has worked with, like the Three Sixty Project.

Visit Textandimage.com.au to find out more about the street press and to view Edition Three online.

© Jonathan Boonzaaier 2016

Des Rountree Interview by Jonathan Boonzaaier for Text and Image Street Press Brisbane

Des Rountree Interview featured in the third issue of Text and Image street press.

Eternal deck series titled Four Beasts by Des Rountree

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