Eshe‘s new line of boards pay homage to some iconic skateboard graphics from yesteryear while pointing the bullshit finger at Religion. Kennedy Poynter and Leighton Dyer are behind the controversial graphics, that are getting equal amount of love and hate in the media, we caught up with them to get their take on it.
Give the people out there a quick history lesson. Kennedy, you’ve been involved in a few New Zealand brands over the years, hell, there was even a shoe brand! Give us a little timeline leading up to now.
Kennedy Poynter: Oh shit, how long have you got? My first job was at an army surplus store and I somehow convinced them to sell skateboards and that is how I met Frank Edwards in the late 80s. This lead on to opening Cheapskates Whangarei at the tender age of 21; just as every skateboarder Whangarei decided to quit. Epic timing! I left Whangarei to manage Cheapskates Papatoetoe for a wage of less than $200 per week. While I was there I needed more stock for the store, so I convinced Frank to let me design and make a small run Boom polos, etc for the store. Because of this I eventually left the retail side to work in the wholesale division with Andrew Mapstone and Morri. I ended up being the Boom guy, doing the graphics, designing and doing production. We took Boom from a blank board co. to being massive in New Zealand and Australia in late 90s. People forget how big of a deal Boom was and how we had the best factories in the world making for us, this was long before it was all Chinese shit. After Boom I left in 1999 to do a shoe brand, Poynter, with Target presenter Brooke Howard-Smith. We almost broke it big time and some how managed to get some heavyweight distributors onboard including the German DC Distributor, WESC and Irrom, etc. But we got a Gordon Gekko type old business man involved, who ended up screwing us over big time. After that I wandered in the wilderness for most of the 00s working on fashion stuff, before returning home to skateboarding and partnering up with Adam MacLennan to do Eshe. Could have made more money by working in corporate, but bloody hell, does it feel good to be back making skateboards again!
Leighton, Muckmouth is quite the institution. It’s a legendary mag and a way of life, amongst other things. How did this all come about?
Leighton Dyer: Muckmouth started about 12 years ago now – about the time Manual started I believe – and we wanted to create something with the same feel and essence as Big Brother. The plan was to create a magazine that every 18 year old lad would love, even if he didn’t skate there would be something in it for him. Girls, cars, snowboards, drinking, skateboarding and dodgy stories. And we wanted to give the magazine away – which is probably the worst idea anyone could ever have. A free colour magazine with barely any ads is ridiculous. So after ten (pretty successful) issues, we just keep the whole thing online now – and now it’s a living, breathing beast. There’s been marriages and babies because of Muckmouth, some great friendships formed and some serious graffiti beef quashed. Which can’t be a bad thing!
The recent line of boards you guys have collaborated on for Eshe—Reglion Is Garbage, Series II—have been welcomed with open arms by some and drawn hatred from others. What were you trying to achieve with these graphics?
Leighton: To be honest, we all just want to live in a secular, peaceful world. It really is time to question nonsense and challenge (stone age) ideas. What we are trying to achieve is a little bit of free thinking, practice our right of free speech, have a few laughs and perhaps educate some indoctrinated poor individuals who’d otherwise simply believe for the sake of believing.
Reworking of ideas and artworks, usually at the expense of anything and anyone, used to be a staple part of skateboard brands. Have things got a little safe and dull out there?
Kennedy: Absolutely, I think in the 90s skateboarding was so small and run by skateboarders and you could get away with it. Now with so many publicly listed corporations involved in skateboarding, I think there is too much pressure from shareholders to play if safe. Sooo very bored with goddam logo series, the same graphic but the only change is a pro’s name, looking at you Plan B and Girl. I refuse to do any more team series for Eshe, individual graphics all the way for us.
Leighton: Yes absolutely. The old days of Mark Mckee, Sean Cliver, Neil Blender creating amazing, sometimes controversial board graphics seem to have faded of late – therefore we wanted to tip our hats to the amazing Blind/World Graphics of the early 90s. A few people still rock the boat a little like Deathwish. But really, Sonic the Hedgehog and Emojis are a little embarrassing. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about here.
It’s like a dinner party conversation gone wrong, after a few too many drinks the old religion chestnut rears it’s head, and the conversation turns to shit. Why do you think the world would be a better place without it? Wouldn’t it be a bit dull?
Kennedy: It all depends on who is at the dinner party I suppose?
Leighton: Dull maybe, but I truly believe (excuse the pun) the world would be better off without it. Look at Scandinavia, the most secular of all societies. Chilled out, happy, low crime, high levels of education and very low prison populations. I’m all for it. Plus Scandinavians are good looking, which is a plus!
What are other some skateboard brands (that are alive today) that you believe are holding on to the old virtues we hold so dear. Those of social commentary and a strong personal or political voice.
Kennedy: I’d say maybe brands like Skate Mental, Roger, Consolidated, Anti Hero and $lave maybe?
Leighton: Some really get it right. Anti Hero, Krooked, REAL – it seems like everything from dlxsf.com is still very cool. Toy Machine hasn’t really changed over the years even thought I’ve never owned anything by them. I want to say Chocolate and Girl but I won’t. It’s a real shame that World died like it did – literally from the best company to the worst company.
Behind all of this there’s a skateboard brand with some actual skateboarders, aside from ruffing up a few feathers, what’s Eshe all about?
Kennedy: We are working hard to make Eshe into a solid skateboard brand with a solid team, that can go international. We are working hard on building the brand and making sure what we put out is better than what we have done before. We are trying to make the best graphics on the best wood and urethane. Really working hard on quality. I have this crazy goal of one day being able to take the whole Eshe crew on a California road trip to film and hustle trade shows. It’s step by step and as we get more support from our retailers, we are able to proceed to the next level, like afford to run full page Manual ads and we are getting close.
The Blind and DGK versions of the Garbage Pail Kids graphics dealt with some uncomfortable subjects including glue sniffing and suicide, to name a few. Religion is a loaded gun though. Are you ready for the reaction? And do you expect to see fundamentalists knocking at your door?
Kennedy: The Fucked up Blind Kids were an obvious inspiration for our Garbage series, and were amazing when they came out. I’ll go on record and say the DGK version was uninspired by just replacing Blind with Ghetto, pussies! If you’re going to pay homage to what someone has done before you need to give it your own spin to make something new. Anyway I think I was more worried with the last series, but I see they are coming up again. I don’t think I’ll will see any fundies at the door, manly because after the last drop I made sure my numbers are unlisted. We did have a detective from the New Zealand Police come see me to make sure there had been no threats and we were OK, because as he told me you never know if someone doesn’t get the joke. He was actually pretty cool and gave me new respect for the police in New Zealand.
Some would say this is purely attention seeking. I’d have to agree that it does that very well. What are you backing it up with?
Kennedy: Haha, no shit! It’s pretty obvious that if you put out a graphic with Religion is Garbage you expect a reaction. But I’m almost disappointed, that although we have had people whinge about us being big meanies, no one has come forward to say religion isn’t rubbish or has tried to save our souls from burning in hell. Lost cause maybe?
View the complete line of artworks over at Esheskateboards.com.