There is a type of artwork that has grown in popularity with art investors over the past decade: The artist skateboard.
Since the inception of skateboarding, the skateboard has been adorned with images popular with those immersed in skating sub-culture. Nowadays, skateboards have been adopted by many artists, who print their work on the underside, to be displayed like you would a print on paper. Artists that have adopted the skateboard include Jeff Koons, Yayoi Kusama, Judy Chicago, and Paul McCarthy, to name but a few.
Artist skateboards are not meant to be ridden like you would a regular skateboard. Rather, they are intended to be hung on your wall like a painting. Alternatively, you can lean the skateboard deck against the wall, but I have never been partial to this art presentation. It doesn’t lend the artwork the air of gravitas that you get when you hang it on the wall. Special devices to secure the skateboard to the wall are available online.
The appeal of the art skateboard
The appeal of skateboard decks, in my opinion, is two-fold.
The first is the price of artist skateboards. Typically, skateboard art editions are relatively inexpensive. For example, A Yayoi Kusama limited edition skateboard “With All My Flowering Heart (2014)” was originally sold via The Broad museum for 590 USD.
While 590 USD may sound like a lot for some, it is far smaller than the price for an editioned print on paper from Kusama. The example from Kusama is just one of many examples in the market. Thus, artist skateboards are one way for you to collect artists whose work may typically be outside your budget.
I think the look of the skateboard deck is the second reason artist skateboards have grown in popularity. The unique rounded rectangle shape is strangely appealing, and this can be enhanced when artists spread an image across multiple decks, like Kusama has done for the edition mentioned above. As a tangential thought in this domain, I would also suggest that displaying a skateboard deck gives collectors an associated edginess.
The skateboard auction
Perfectly illustrating the growing popularity of artist skateboard decks is Bonhams recent success with skateboard-only auctions, which they began holding frequently starting in 2020. In the inaugural auction, Bonhams showcased 152 artist skateboards. Most lots in this auction were sold, with many fetching prices far above their estimated values.
Art decks can be limited edition or open edition, much like any other artwork. Generally, you should stay away from open-edition skateboard decks.
A handy tip to determine if an artwork is limited edition; they will tell you.
The rarity of an artwork is an incredible selling point, so if an artwork is part of a limited edition set, it is likely to be stated as such. If you cannot find information about the number/size of an editioned artwork, then treat it as an open edition.