Ian Johnson’s Inversions Skateboards

Ian Johnson's Inversions Skateboards

A couple of years back, we did a feature called Jazz & Skateboards, in which we talked to painter Ian Johnson and showcased some of his work. What lead to this feature were his skateboard designs for Western Edition, in particular the Miles Davis Quintet series and the Marvin Gaye tribute. Only a couple of weeks ago, I stumbled across his brilliant Out To Lunch series, a tribute to the Eric Dolphy album of the same name and very hard to find – especially if you’re after the whole series.

This time, the chances to cop one (or all) of his skateboards are better, as the new „Inversions” series was just announced on Ian’s Instagram account. As always, it’s a jazzy affair featuring musicians such as Bill Evans, Thelonious Monk, Sun Ra, and Bud Powell. All available from the Western Edition store and selected stores around the world. Be quick, as I’m sure these will soon be gone!

Bitches Brew Skateboards

Bitches Brew Skateboards

Remember those Miles Davis Quintet skateboards designed by Ian Johnson? This year, Western Edition pays tribute to the Miles Davis album Bitches Brew with a series of eight four decks. The original artwork for the album cover was created by Mati Klarwein, whose son Balthazar is a passionate skater himself. That little detail led to the commissioning of the artwork, but unfortunately the decks have sold out in no time, despite the high price tag. Maybe you’ll have more luck at your local skate shop.

July 18, 2012 If you don’t mind shady Facebook pages, here is your chance to win the entire set!

July 19, 2012 Turns out I could hunt down the series in a local store. Disappointingly, the series consists of only four decks and not eight as the images suggest. The dark motives are on the upper side of the decks, the bright one on the lower. In the end, I decided against buying as I found the price tag too high.

Jazz & Skateboards

Back in March, I reported about these beautiful Miles Davis Quintet Skateboards and the other day I stumble across a Marvin Gaye deck. Turns out, both were designed by Californian painter Ian Johnson.

Having spent 12 years of my own life on a skateboard and sharing the taste of music, I contacted Ian to speak about his work.

Can you briefly introduce yourself?
My name is Ian Johnson. I draw, paint and am the art director for Western Edition skateboards.

You obviously have a passion for jazz music, where does it come from?
I think jazz is some of the first music I remember hearing at my grandparent’s house. So it started back then and kind of stuck with me. When I got older and started listening to hip hop/rap music, the songs with jazz samples were the ones I was more drawn to. Then when I got a little older i started buying jazz and hearing and learning where those sounds came from. I love the music and the history, the stories and the visuals all at the same time.

Do you consider yourself being a records collector?
I have records, but I’m not a real record collector. I don’t go hunting for rare stuff or spend tons of money on it or have 5,000 records or nothing like that. It’s rad to see peoples collections and I respect their pursuits. If I see something I like I’ll buy it, but I’m not obsessed with having it all or originals or rare stuff. I just try and get what I like and will listen to.


Jazz and skateboards, sounds like an unusual combination. Where I come from the skate kids listen to punk or hip hop.
I think there is a lot of people that appreciate jazz in skateboarding. Jazz had a big impact on punk and hip hop. I think people that really know about either of those genres respect jazz and see the connections between all of it. Jazz in skateboarding has been around for a while, I’m not the only one to marry the two. Mark Gonzales’ part in Video Days (widely regarded as the best street skateboarding video of all time) had John Coltrane as the soundtrack. Stereo had a lot of jazz inspired graphics and their first video was almost exclusively jazz. Thats kind of how I got into jazz as well. So I think there are people that dig it. Some people think I suck to but what can you do.

Which jazz musician fascinates you the most, and who in your opinion is the greatest jazz musician?
Eric Dolphy is probably the person I have drawn the most. I think he always seemed to be deep in thought. By all accounts he was a really kind and gentle man, but there was something sad in him it seemed. And his music is some of my favorite. I like to draw Art Blakey a lot too, he has a lot going on in his face. As for greatest jazz musician, I don’t know how you can really say that, it’s kind of subject to the guidelines you give it. I think Coltrane’s body of work is pretty amazing. The fact that he just keep pushing himself and his music and showed so many sides of himself is quite remarkable.

Who do you think buys most of those beautiful decks, collectors or people that actually skate on them?
I think it’s more skaters, but recently a lot more collectors have been buying them. It depends on the series or the graphics.

Lastly, can you tell us about your book?
It’s called Beauty Is A Rare Thing and put out by Paper Museum Press. It was kind of timed around a show I had at Park Life a year ago but not specifically for that. It’s just a collection of things I made over the last ten years.

Apart from designing skateboards, Ian’s work has been published in Wax Poetic and Straight No Chaser. If you’re interested in getting his book you better hurry up, as there are only 500 copies available!

Miles Davis Quintet Skateboards

The Kind of Blue Deluxe Edition was already an impressive collection for all Miles Davis fans out there. It was released to celebrate the record’s 50th anniversary and it consists of a vinyl record, four CDs and a DVD. Skateboard company Western Edition also celebrates an anniversary, this year is their tenth in business. They put 1 and 1 together and now present an impressive set of skateboards, honoring the original quintet behind the recording of Kind of Blue.


Seriously, even if you never put a foot on a skateboard in your life, isn’t this set of decks worth buying? You can order them at FTCSF or at your local skate shop.

via Radcollector (thanks Cubikmusik!)