Ed Templeton : “We were into Fugazi and everything political”

Originally published in Skateboarder # 99

It only took five minutes. Before mayhem ensued, Ed Templeton’s garage was just this quiet, bohemian art studio in Huntington Beach, with a painted life-size naked silhouette’s profile being finished on a wall, a darkroom and some cut-out heads waiting for their programmed injection by wooden syringes. And after? Decks all over the floor and a very perplexed Ed, not really sure how to fulfill this strange request : pick only five of his own all-time favorite pro-models. Right now, having exhumed only a third of the loot from the former kitchen cabinet where he stores them all, the count culminates at 15 pre-selected boards.
“It’s… hard”, he starts, as he digs deep through eighteen pro years spent with New Deal, TV and Toy Machine. “I started out drawing my own graphics, that was my plan, because I was a lot into Chris Miller when I started skating. At the time, his board just came out with a bird and a cat on it, and I heard he drew it. I thought it was cool.” He scratches his head. A few dilemmas later, the final five are chosen. Welcome to ‘Memory Screened,’ whose sole purpose is to turn pros’ garages into a complete mess.

New Deal cat board (1990)
Art by Ed Templeton

“That was my first pro-model, ever. As I said, I wanted to do my own graphics and I started coming up with ideas. As a kid I was always into learning about Egyptian iconography and artwork, that’s where the cat came from. This shape was actually an Egyptian cat, I mean they sell this at the Metropolitan Museum of Art as a pin…
I got the inside from some book, no idea wich one. I just blew it up on a copy machine. It’s a scene of some kind of chaos going down, you see some skeletons in the street, there’s a preacher too, one of the skeletons is even having sex with a woman ! Then I changed the signs: I put “nude eel” on one just for the pun aspect of it, this other one says “Hello I’m the otter,” it’s one of the things I was saying at the time, probably a play on the Beatles’ song I am The Walrus. And then, I didn’t realize until now, one of the sign says “Television”, which was to be my company with Mike V…”

Television cow board (1992)
Art by Ed Templeton

“I had been drawing these cow heads with just the intestines hanging out, because cows have four stomachs. The top graphic says “Eat me I’m probably delicious.” It was that crude expression in 1992, when I turned vegan. It was partly from hanging out with Mike V and Christian Kline [Poweredge mag’s editor in chief –ed.note]. Every time they’d take me to a restaurant, they’d be like: “We’ll pay for your dinner if you don’t eat meat !” Then they gave me some litterature, I read it and it just made sense.
As a kid you get really excited about things. When I was on tour with Mike V, we’d go to places and the kids would come up to us : ‘Oh, you guys are finally here ! We’re the hardcore vegans, we kick people’s asses who eat meat !’ Mike and I would try to explain that it’s not about joining some kind of program. I don’t mind talking about it, but I don’t try to make it my cause. I haven’t moved away from that stuff at all in my head, but as you grow older you just find more subtle ways to put that out. You just sort of instillate it.”

Toy Machine cheese board (1993)
Art by Ed Templeton

“This one came out in 1993, it’s probably why it wasn’t seen really. We were making small runs because we knew graphics were going to be changed the next month. If they didn’t sell, companies would even scrape the graphics off and put new ones over the boards! At the time I was learning to make the screen prints myself, so I was trying to do an exercise with that. It was like a big process, cutting and making films kind of thing.
This drawing is absurd in a lot of ways because there’s not a lot of meaning to it. At one point I thought it’d be cool to have a guy with a fly swatter, and ‘cheese’ was just a word we used to make fun of things that are cheesy or something like that. The statue was just one I had in my house, I thought ‘I’m just gonna have a shelf with objects.’ That’s it. But I like the way it looks. Even if it’s totally amateurish, I really like the bold, primary colors too”.

Toy Machine syringe board (1994)
Art by Ed Templeton

“That’s the first one I thought of. It was not the first time I did a board with a message, it started from the “Buy Me I’m Naked” board I had on Televsion, when I was doing that company with Mike V and we were really into Fugazi and everything political.
I was always drawing these guys with TV glasses around this time period, like we’re looking through a TV lens. People in the USA are very interested in what’s going on on TV. The syringe is something we’ve always used, like ‘Get injected with Toy Machine’, an ongoing theme for me. I don’t know if skaters remember the graphics with some sort of message better, but I will, because they’re not political in a way that gets dated. It’s still relevant today, there’s still people getting injected with politics and religion and other people’s lives…”

Toy Machine toy rabbit board (1998)
Art by Adam Wallacavage

“My friend Adam Wallacavage was doing these really elaborate silk screens at the time that looked really cool, I loved them. So when he did graphics for us they just came out perfect. It’s one of my favorite boards that ever came out on Toy Machine.
He only did these ones for us, there was a bunch of them because he had this toy collection that he would shoot photographs of. Actually it’s his toy collection that we used in Jump Off a Building too, this was around that time, all the toys flashing.”

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Le boardnographe du phonographe

This is an archive for my eponymous monthly page in Skateboarder mag. Plus a few extras few and far between, whenever I get a chance...
Absolutely shameless, unrated boardnography, exposed! -minus the Ebay guilt. Enjoy the visite...

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Memory Screened Inc. and subsidiaries' CEO

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