Photo by Trevor Macculley
If you are ready to forgive Lurker Lou for ruining skateboarding, he’s been working on a pretty cool project entitled Card Boards. Rather than allowing childhood baseball cards to collect dust and tossing old boards by the curb, Lou combined the two into a collection for the entire Major League. He has a show this Saturday featuring all the boards, so we spoke to him about how Card Boards came to fruition.
Everyone has a story about how they first got into collecting things as a kid. How did you get into baseball cards?
My dad was into baseball throughout his life. He was born in 1947 and collected during the forties and fifties. When he went to college, his mom threw out his collection.
Baseball card collecting got hot again in the eighties. I had a brother who was five years older than me, and when he was eight or nine, my dad started buying him all these cards. By the time I started at six or seven, he was already over them. I got all my brother’s cards and went from there. The eighties were sort of the peak of collecting cards.
Why was it the peak?
All the baby boomers, like my dad, were in their forties. They didn’t want you to just throw them away like they did. That’s why they became rare, because no one thought to hold onto them when they first got big in the forties and fifties.
My dad had a liquor store and he would carry baseball cards there. He’d buy boxes for me at wholesale, like as a treat when I got As on my report card. We’d take the good ones, put them aside and make team sets. At 11 years old, I started skating, and completely left anything having to do with baseball or cards behind. Card collecting was on its way out anyway. The market got over saturated.
How’d you decide to start making boards with cards twenty years down the line?
I was bored, going through old stuff in maybe winter 2012. An old roommate had left a bunch of cards behind. He had Shawn Kemp rookie cards, Gretzkys and other shit. I wanted to get rid of the cards to make back some of the money this dude owed me. I went onto Beckett.com, which was the website of this monthly magazine that would tell you card prices back in the day. The cards are worth nothing. A mint condition 1987 Gretzky is maybe $8-16. I wasn’t going to go through the trouble of selling some cards for $10.
I had already been making collages for years. I decided to do it with the cards, like aesthetically as if someone had just thrown them on top of a board and cut around it. I had seen a lot of stuff made out of old magazines and whatnot, but not so much with baseball cards.
I made a cruiser with some cards out of an old board, skated around with it and people thought it was cool, so I called up my mom and had her send me a shoebox of cards. I’d arrange them by team, good players with other good players, the steroid players with other steroid players, until I decided I wanted to do a board for every team in the major leagues.
My dad was stoked. I gave him a Red Sox board. I’m waiting for him to let me use some of his really good shit.
How’d you get off of baseball cards and into different type of scrapbook-like projects on boards?
There are so many ways you can arrange cards on a board, be it by theme, pattern or whatever. I bought packs of Yo! MTV Raps cards to do boards of those. People assume things like that would be expensive, but they’re not — no one cares about collecting them. No one cares about used boards or cards anymore, so I’m taking these two things that have been left in the dust and combining them.
It’s three decades of my life converging: first, I was heavy into baseball and card collecting, then I was fully immersed in skating, and once I got a bit older, I realized my creativity that wasn’t getting put into skating could be channeled into creating art.
There has been a rise in people repurposing used skateboards into other objects this past decade or so. Obviously skateboards are a wasteful thing — you use this big piece of a tree for a week and then throw it out — but do you think there are other reasons for why that picked up?
People are using skateboards as a canvas because it’s cheaper. You don’t have to buy an actual canvas or panel, and you’re repurposing something that’s technically deemed useless after you’re done skating it. Most skaters don’t care, but to me it’s like a second life for this object, “Oh, I just got a free canvas.” A card collage on a square canvas doesn’t translate to me the same way. The board gives it a different aesthetic.
I honestly think that some of the best art in recent history has been put on the bottom of skateboards and destroyed. Some die hard collectors kept an archive, but a lot of great art has been lost over the decades. I think people are now more conscious of holding onto specific skateboards.
Right, but some fashion companies and artists are now putting art on boards as a novelty, and selling it for way more than a regular board costs. Like, you’re “supposed to” hold onto them.
I don’t respect people creating art on skateboards who aren’t heavy into skateboarding itself, like Alexander Wang and these companies trying to hop on and make a $1,000 board with some fancy fabric stitched onto it. Find your own niche.
It also works the other way around. People shouldn’t rush to get into art or photography just because they’re at the end of their skate career and struggling. I never did it to “save my career” or whatever someone may think, because I never had a towel to throw in. I’m not trying to shove it down people’s throats. I’ve been inspired to create art since I moved to New York at 18, regardless of whether or not anyone ever saw it.
Lou is having a show at 2nd Nature’s Bushwick location (257 Varet Street) on Saturday, July 19th, starting 8 P.M. All boards will be for sale. Will feature a deck for each team in the MLB, in addition to some others.
Previously: An Interview with Lurker Lou (May 2012)