Skateboard designer and pop culture/street artist Bear Walker is changing the face of skateboarding with his iconic wood carved boards. Ushering in a new golden age of skateboarding art, the American-handmade boards are not only hung on the walls of art collectors around the world, they can be seen cruising skateparks, pools, and boardwalks.
His company, Bear Walker Premium Boards, differs from other skateboard brands in their unique designs. Instead of applying a traditional grip, Bear hand carves the top of each skateboard to strategically gain ultimate traction. His distinctive and pioneering creative process has made his skateboards into must-have, ridable works of pop art. Millennial caught up with Bear to learn more about his jaw-dropping new approach to ground-breaking art.
What sets Bear Walker boards apart from the competition and who do you see as your ideal market?
I guess the main thing that sets us apart is the carved out grip. We have 3D texture and we can do detail and crafted art on the topside, instead of just having a flat printed piece on the bottom which you never really get to enjoy. Also, just our ties to pop culture and passion that goes behind that, how interactive we are with our following. Just try to have enough input and interaction as possible with the people that support us.
I think definitely my ideal market is collectors, avid comic book or movie fans, people who I’d say just appreciate art or like cruisers and longboards, but the main focus would be pop culture side of things where they want to collect the pieces.
Art design, woodworking craftsmanship and advanced technology. Of these three qualities, which is the most important to the Bear Walker brand?
I’d say detailed craftsmanship. No matter how fast we have a potential to grow, I always try to keep it responsibly growing and sustainable because the quality and craftsmanship that goes into it, the whole idea behind the brand in general would be questionable.
Take us through the process of partnering with the Pokémon brand on your limited edition collection.
I wanted to work with Pokémon. I’ve been a fan of their stuff ever since I was a kid. I found out that they would be at a licensing expo last year and I didn’t have a meeting set or anything, I just made a custom board for them and showed them at their booth. I kinda chilled until I was able to get into a meeting and they fell in love with the board in person.
A few weeks later I got a call back from them wanting to move forward with the collaboration, so it was just really legit trying to find a way to make it work and making it happen. As far as the quantities go, I always typically do between 100 and 250 for my quantities. And so they kind of fell in there in the middle with 150 for each.
Woodcarving is a rare skill today. What inspired you to build a business around this trade?
I think it’s really like just kind of stumbling upon this thing in general. I was carving out custom signage and I was tearing apart my hands everyday and I realized how abrasive and grippy the carving was. I kind of had that ‘AHA’ moment that it would work well for grip on top of a skateboard. So, I guess what you’d take out of that is like a passion about it, because I discovered this new thing and it like excited me and every morning I woke up and I remember wanting to build more stuff.