At some point, Chris Pastras decided he had to grow out of his brother’s shadow. That kind of process does take a minute when the brother in question is Rodney Smith, one of the founders of Shut skateboards, a company so iconic in the ‘80s “that I remember Julien Stranger and Eric Dressen asking us for Shut stickers at some amateur contest in Arizona”, Chris laughs a good twenty years later. Yet, he did it and sailed way out West. The bold move allowed him to nail a part in Rubbish Heap (street skating’s Das Kapital, if Karl Marx had slapped on the fish-eye) before starting two companies with co-captain Jason Lee, Blue and Stereo. A journey through so many souvenirs that Agent 547 had to struggle to only pick five boards. But bravely he dared, demounting the decks that decorate the walls in his office and in his perched Echo park home. Here’s what the former Dune has to say about them.
(Oh, and now you can click on the photos to see the boards bigger. That’s the tech-est I’ve gone so far!)
“This is my first board, Rocco turned me and Randy Colvin pro kind of on a dime, Mike V had just left so I think Steve didn’t really know who else to give a board to. The nickname Dune, Rodney [Smith] came up with it. I used to do imitations of this Vietnamese kid Martin, so my brother called me ‘Mardune’ just because I was imitating him so well, and it morphed into Dune. But I had all kinds of nicknames. One was T. Bass, after the crazy Andy Griffith hobo character who was smashing windows, I got it after I smashed our godfather’s car window.
Anyway, I did get to pick the graphics, it was from a children book, the baby was actually White and Marc Mc Kee turned him Afro-American. We developed this deck at the same time than Mike’s barnyard deck, and I actually thought that Mike’s wasn’t really functional, cause it was too square. Me and Rodney [Mullen] worked on this shape and this board sold really well, it was insane, over time they sold maybe 12,000 of these.
It was actually the first double tail that was functional, so I wanted big graphics on both sides just to nail home the double thing. I mean, it has shape to it but had that huge nose because I did a lot of nollies then. So many that Mark Gonzales called me ‘nollie’!”
“This one was my first board on Blue. It was inspired by a book about old diners that my friend Don Bruno gave me. I kinda came up with the idea of the diner thing and then brought it to Andy Jenkins. He whipped that out in like two seconds flat, I was blown away. Unfortunately, that’s the only graphic he did for us. Blue was the company I started started with Jason Lee, and then Kareem Campbell jumped in. It happened because World Industries was kinda coming to a close. Rodney Mullen was hushering in all these new kids, this is when pros only lasted two years, and I was getting nervous, I just knew I wasn’t gonna last. So the minute someone gave me an opportunity to be on the other side of the fence and be creative, I jumped on it.
Blue had retro-design influences, it wasn’t named after [the jazz label] Blue Note, I hadn’t really heard of it at the time. Blue was just my favorite color, and this board just epitomized the vibe of the graphics we were going for.” Stereo Blue Note board (1993) Artwork by Chris Pastras “This is actually inspired by a Blue Note album, can’t remember which one though. My dad was a jazz musician so I grew up around jazz my whole life. At first I was aware of it but I wasn’t a fan until I was 19, it kinda all came together cause we were going for the retro stuff with Blue.
I got reintroduced to jazz with Stereo. Then my friend Eli at X-Large showed me the Blue Note book that just came out [Graham Marsh’s Blue Note: Album Cover Art] and he helped me put together some of the graphics. It all just kinda clicked. Jazz was always a part of me, but I never paid attention to it because there was so much of it around in my childhood.”
“This is the New York board for the Way Out East video, with its drawing of the Empire State Building. It was cool for us because we got to go to three of our favorite cities to film that video. I remember a lot of people rode this board for its color too, it was pretty vibrant.
I’m pretty proud of this one cause I did the lettering, the cut outs and the little cityscape in the background. I just wanted Way Out East to be have this kind of wacky, ‘60s travel theme to it but I didn’t really have a distinct inspiration for this graphic. I mean, I’ve always liked the artwork in all the Tim Burton stuff, and I’ve always liked Mary Blair, the artist for the original Disney stuff as seen in It’s a Small World. Playboy magazine from the ‘60s, too.
This is also why this board is so special to me : New York City is a super big part of my history. So yeah, it was kinda an ode to New York City, as cheesy as it sounds.”
“As far as artwork, this is my favorite board because it’s a real painting. I love to draw buildings and I love to draw people, hence the totem, it’s like drawing building-people! This is a theme I’ve had going on for a few years and at first, this one wasn’t meant to be on a deck. I used acrylic, oil stick and charcoal pencil and just painted it about a year before the board came out, on some plank I found in the street, then hung it in my office.The art guys thought it would look good on a skateboard, I’m glad we gave it a shot.
It’s kinda political too, it says ‘Peace and Love, let’s pray for our president and our pompous nation.’ That was done before we had hope for a new president. At the time it was depressing to see our country crumble. I mean, we’re the cocky ones that don’t realize how out of style being cocky is… Anyway yeah, I am so stoked also how well the 4-color process works these days: you can see the textures, the breaks in the wood and even the brush strokes!”