Since the early 1990s Pete has been sharing his psychedelic world visions with us in almost too many forms to count. Among his recent artistic preoccupations have been his hugely successful and ever growing family of Monsterism and Monsterism Island toys, new music from his psych band Seahawks, skateboard graphics for a wide range of clients (including Panic and Unabomber back in the day) and a host of commercial projects. Recent shows in the UK, Europe, US and Japan are further testament to his huge popularity and scope as an artist.
His work has heart, passion, humour and showcases a dazzling imagination – a little like his conversation, as we were lucky enough to discover when we interviewed him recently.
First of all, how did you get into art and skateboarding? Do you see them linked?
I BMX’d before I skateboarded, and rode for a shop in Cardiff with a few mates. But as soon as I got into skateboarding the artwork on boards and t-shits really interested me. It was around the time when I was leaving school and going into 6th form and thinking about what I wanted to do. I did a little fanzine in Cardiff with a friend of mine which was maybe more fun that what I did in art school, where some people seemed so far ahead of me. So the whole skate thing, the mates I skated with, the gang mentality, shared aesthetic and sense of humour among my skateboard friends really fed into my art.
When I moved down to Cornwall to do fine art at uni, I used to skate loads and the two for me seemed like valid forms of self-expression. Just like everything I do now with art and music – I don’t really see a difference between artwork or music or skating. I’ve always felt they were linked. I used to skate with really creative people who were always making zines or taking pictures which all seemed linked in the self contained skate scene. A lot of the art wasn’t really seen outside the skate scene then, which I guess is really changing now.
Where there any skateboarders, artists or brands that inspired you at the time?
Yes, a lot of the skaters I really liked at the time were artists. Neil Blender was one of my all time faves, and I think many people have a soft spot for him. Obviously an absolute ripper but also out on his own with his artwork, and I liked that al lot of the artist/skaters weren’t out of art school, in the same way that they skated they painted or drew. Obviously you’ve also got the Gonz – not that I’m a huge fan of his artwork – but it’s the whole package with Mark Gonzales, and certainly some of his early boards I loved, same with Blender. So I guess they were my two faves really. But also other skaters of the era like Caballero, with his music – you see I was always into what else skaters did when they weren’t skating, for fun or as another outlet.
As for board brands, I loved the early Alien Workshop stuff and the early Powell Peralta stuff. My brother used to keep all his old decks, I think he had all the early Natas ones. I loved that 80s era especially when skaters themselves started to do their own graphics. The ‘Colour My Friends’ Gonz and the Blender ‘Coffee Drinker’ are just classic boards.