125: Andy Howell/Ideas Travel

Andy Howell via Zoom, May 2020. Photo: Owen Tozer

Andy Howell has always been one of skateboarding’s sages. He’s an artist and intellectual thinker who discerns patterns, seeks out connections and is unafraid to grapple with the biggest themes of all. Story-telling. Humanity. Technology. Life. Rebirth. You know – the good stuff.

Photo: Owen Tozer

You can see it in his career, and the sheer number of ways he’s found to express himself creatively over the years. There is, of course, his storied career as one of the most progressive influences in skateboarding, whether as a pro, or through his involvement with game-changing brands like New Deal, Zero Sophisto, Underworld Element or 411. 

Andy at Munster in 1989. Photo: TLB/RAD

It is equally evident in his career as an artist and patron of international repute, a strand to his story that includes collaborations with peers such as Shepherd Fairey and Jeff Kinsey. And it runs through his later incarnation as a the founder of visionary tech start-ups, his role as an investor, and his typically progressive involvement with the 30th anniversary of New Deal Skateboards. 

Absolutely iconic 1991 shot of Andy by Spike Jonze

And now Andy is on the brink of a new frontier, as he processes the incident that changed his life at the end of 2019 – the fire that destroyed his family home and, with it, the collection of artwork he’d been collecting and curating for over 30 years. 

It’s a blow that has changed Andy’s life completely, and an experience he is still learning how to process. With all that in mind, I’m grateful for Andy for even agreeing to come on the show in the first place.

Andy by Owen Tozer

I’m so glad he did though, because as you’ll expect if you’ve followed Andy’s career, this chat with one of skateboarding’s most original thinkers evolved into something really fascinating and unexpected. 

Connect With Andy

Show Notes

  • Interview talk.
  • Losing his house to wildfires.
  • Dealing with grief.
  • “Nothing is safe.”
  • A record of your life.
  • “A caretaker of the artwork.”
  • Che’s artwork. 
  • Collecting pieces over years.
  • Skateboarding as an impression of art.
  • Lost art that no one would’ve seen.
  • Shepherd’s artwork from back to high school. 
  • Artists offering new pieces for free.
  • “The empathy and love has been a feel-good silver lining.”
  • Starting from scratch.
  • The community reaching out.
  • Brands helping out.
  • Starting to draw again.
  • A child’s view on the loss.
  • “They were the ones that inspired me.”
  • Feelings turning into art.
  • “I only create on inspiration.”
  • Working only for yourself.
  • Time to reflect.
  • The new normal.
  • The current state in the US.
  • A wake up call.
  • “Maybe this is a catalyst to move forward.”
  • Opportunities to contribute.
  • Making connections with people.
  • Skateboarding and surfing again.
  • “There’s so much cool art being made right now.”
  • Getting together even when you’re separated.
  • Providing relief through art.
  • Inspiring critical thinking.
  • Shepherd Fairey’s art around equality. 
  • Opportunity for creativity.
  • The good and bad of technological advances.
  • Taking care of each other and the planet.
  • The importance of human connection.
  • Solving problems through critical thinking.
  • Storytelling as a human desire.
  • Creative confidence.
  • Skateboarding on the East Coast.
  • DIY culture.
  • Art as a career path.
  • The transition into street skateboarding. 
  • Connecting with old friends.
  • Going to art school.
  • “You can make a living out of doing that.”
  • Skating on rocked down boards.
  • The Savannah Slamma Contest. 
  • Carson Velodrome Contest in California.
  • Making sure to give it a fair shake.
  • Skate brands approaching.
  • Moving from the East to the West Coast.
  • Commiting to skateboarding.
  • Working with friends.
  • Be open and collaborative.
  • “Whatever I was passionate about is what ended up happening.”
  • The evolvement of Underworld Element.
  • Influence of music and artists.
  • “I just mashed all that together.”
  • The development of New Deal.
  • Curtis McCann on Underworld Element.
  • “What a style king.”
  • Building a skate team.
  • The Nine Club interview. 
  • The 90s era.
  • The growth of skateboarding.
  • “Don’t sell out.”
  • Experiencing skateboarding for the first time.
  • The uncertain outcome of the Olympics.
  • Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. 
  • Skateboarding evolving.
  • “Innovation is still the core of skateboarding.”
  • “You can ride anything and have a good time.”
  • Starting to longboard in Malibu.
  • “Do what you’re inspired to do at the moment.”
  • The pride of a parent.
  • Getting into technology.
  • The custom make up company. 
  • Making people happy through technology.
  • Ventures outside of your comfort zone.
  • Being happily ignorant.
  • “There’s no way that we’re not gonna do it.”
  • Combining forces.
  • “It’s the best time to be creative.”
  • Evolving in your own way.
  • Starting an agency with friends.
  • “We were brought together for a reason.”
  • Putting your ego aside.
  • “Whatever we put out there is coming back.”

People Mentioned

Places Mentioned

  • East Coast, US
  • California, US
  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • Carson, California
  • Huntington Beach, California
  • Encinitas, California
  • Cardiff by the Sea, California
  • San Francisco, California
  • New York
  • Virginia Beach
  • Malibu, California

Brands/Organizations/Companies Mentioned: