Joe Castrucci is one of the most influential visual artists working in skateboarding today. The list of his accomplishments is long and varied, whether through his initial filming and design work with Alien Workshop or, later, with the establishment of Habitat, his own fully formed brand vision.

Films such as Photosynthesis, the film Castrucci made for Alien Workshop in 2000, and Mosaic from 2003, changed the skate film landscape. “What Joe did with these videos is the number one reason I picked up a camera and began editing in the first place”, says Chris Mulhern who put together a two-part Berrics documentary on Joe’s work.

It’s the same story with Habitat, a brand that occupies it’s own unique place in the skate universe. And now Joe’s prints and artwork is proving to be as singular and inventive. We were stoked to get the chance to speak to him about his work and approach.

Hi Joe, tell us a little about how and when you first became interested in art and design?

I always drew and made home videos. I spent most of my school days doodling. So as soon as I could get out of conventional school I went to vocational school for commercial art. This was pre computer. We learned all the old school techniques. Then as soon as I could I bought a Mac for design and editing.

(l-r) Coexist, Metro, Pride, Treebeard

How about skateboarding? What graphics, brands, artists etc were you into or inspired you?

I was always inspired by Alien Workshop, Deluxe and Girl. Especially back in the early 90s. I loved all the early Real and Forties shit. Outside of skating, I like Paul Rand and Alexander Girard the most. I also love the 50s to 70s Disney and Jim Henson stuff.

Selection of Joe’s logo work

How did Habitat come about? What role did you have in its inception and ongoing direction?

Carter (Chris Carter who alongside Mike Hill and Neil Blender founded Alien Workshop skateboards in 1990) gave me a chance at my own brand after I had helped out with AWS.

I’d already had my own small company called Solid Brand, so it wasn’t anything different, just on a larger scale. I still have complete control over the brand and try to keep it as close to my original concept as possible.

Giza and Seahawk

 “The music is always the starting point. I like editing to music that has energy and some sort of intensity. I really, really enjoy being entertained and inspired”

Has film in general inspired your work, I’m thinking of 50/60s film posters, titles etc by people like Saul Bass? If not what designers and or artists inspired you?

I like wall art and statues. I don’t follow any artists specially. Lots of people and companies create the stuff with the aesthetic I like. I just surround myself with stuff that appeals to me.

The music in your films is always excellent. Is music important to your art and design? Do you listen to it when working, and does it directly influence your work?

The music is always the starting point. I like editing to music that has energy and some sort of intensity. I really, really enjoy being entertained and inspired. If all we did was make skate videos and not products or office work I would want to make score ‘em all and make epic sweeping skate videos. But for now, since videos are edited quickly and as an afterthought to a folder of skate tricks, the easiest way to create mood is to pick the perfect song.

You categorise your work as ‘artisan’ and ‘vector’ – can you tell me about your different methods of creating artwork, the mediums you use and methods employed to create the more hand made, ‘artisan’ work versus the more computer based designs?

Yeah. Artisan is the handmade and 3 dimensional stuff. Vector is illustrator based. Most of the time I make a sketch by hand then create a clean lined vector version. I don’t like my natural hand style of writing or drawing so I prefer using cut paper or designing on a computer.

Do you own or collect art? If so by who?

I like designer furniture. But it’s expensive and my kids would destroy it. So at some point I’ll probably have a lot of old modern furniture and lights.

What else are you working on right now?

All of my time and energy goes into Habitat. I like the etsy store though because I feel like my art is getting seen by the no skate crowd too. I love skate and am stoked that skaters are buying my prints, but it’s also cool when people who don’t know about skateboarding or Habitat show an interest in the art as well.

Joyride