Mark Foster, often known as ‘Fos’ is an artist originally from Rawtenstall, Lancashire, England. Skateboarding since his early teens, Fos told Artist Advocacy’s Shaun Oppedisano that he held no “burning desire to become a plumber or an electrician or work in a factory like everyone else I knew, so I went to art school, much to the protest of my dad.”
After graduating from Goldsmiths Art College in London Fos founded Heroin Skateboards in 1998 – whose distinctive graphics, videos and adverts led to a cult following in the UK, Japan and the US. Fos has also done graphics for Black Label, Real, Zero, Toy Machine, Baker and Deathwish skateboards, and as an artist has exhibited in London, Paris, New York, Tokyo. Fos is now the art director at Altamont Apparel , continues to run his companies Heroin & Landscape Skateboards and divides his time between New Cross in London and Los Angeles.
Hi Fos. First of all, how did you get into creating things for a living? – Did it start with being fussy about where stickers went on your boards, or was it more planned than that?
Well I did a degree in design at Goldsmiths University, but weirdly that seemed to have little to do with what I do now. After I graduated I worked in a skateboard warehouse unpacking lorries, and then doing sales and stuff, and I kinda ended up doing more and more creative stuff gradually. Starting Heroin Skateboards was a big help in getting my work out there, through that the U.S. companies started asking me to do art for them, and then I ended up working at Altamont. I don’t put stickers on the bottom of my board really, i like the way the wood slides better, but I put as many as I can on the top.
Where do you get your ideas from?
Who knows? Coffee, punk rock and horror movies mostly.
Whose art did you like growing up?
Comic book artists Jack Kirby, John Romita Jr, John Buscema and skateboard graphics from Jim Phillips, Pushead and Neil Blender.
What was the last show you went to that blew you away?
For art shows I’d say Alfons Mucha at the Barbican in about 1994 or 95, Basquiat at the Serpentine was good too. I don’t go to a lot of art shows nowadays. Music show I’d say the Black Angels at the El Ray in LA last year, and then WU LYF at the Troubador.
What art – if any – do you own personally?
I’ve got a print by Chris Johanssen, I’ve got all the boards that I’ve done graphics for stashed in my basement in my house in London (see some of Fos’s graphics below). And I just moved into a place in LA and have one of my diamond paintings up.
Can you describe the process of making something. Do you start with a commission, or a spark of an idea, or just nervous energy that needs to be released?
Definitely usually nervous energy. That’s kinda more my thing. I draw nervously in my sketchbook a lot, that’s kinda like my brain.
If you could show people just one of your works, which would you choose and why?
Maybe the Antwuan Dixon Black Jesus graphic, it kinda shows people that I can actually draw, and it was an iconic board graphic for that time and place and I don’t know if he will ever have boards out again.
Mark Fos Foster will be part of the Looking Sideways exhibition at Wangl Tangl in Mayrhofen, Austria from the 17th to 24th May 2012. To buy some of Fos’s art, visit his blog “which I rarely update,” says Fos, “But sometimes I throw some canvas’s up there and sell direct to the homies.” In October of 2011, Fos put the following back catalogue information up:
A Heroin Skateboards section of Fos skating
Fos’s pro page on the Heroin website: