Karl Watson : “I didn’t want to portray too much the organic thing because it was putting more pressure on me”

Unlike the ones on milk cartons, Think skateboards’ “missing children” didn’t wander too long and soon enough found prestigious homes. As the few people in the present skateboard community that were actually born in 1991 might remember, Karl Watson was one of the four ams featured on the infamous board, along Nick Lockman and Shawn Mandoli.
For the former Embarcadero resident spitball champ, the mugshot was far to be his name’s last appearance under a skateboard. Clean, Profile, Mad Circle, Expedition, Organika: with a 15-years long pro career, skateboarding’s smiliest and styliest has gone through his share of companies. Let’s check out what his Prius’ trunk carries…

Clean sketch board (1994)
Art by Damon Soule

“I had about three pro-models on Clean, this guy Kyle started this company with his parents’ money. He was a nice guy, it was me and Jonas Wray, I forget who else but they took me to Europe for the first time, we went to England, Germany…

The graphics were done by this guy from Colorado, he had this sketch book and this one looked good so I was like, hey, I wanna use this one. I liked how intricate it was, how it was almost four-dimensional. It had no meaning. That came later on with my board graphics.”

Mad Circle Egypt (1997)
Art by Jesse McMillan

“At the time I was really into Egypt, and I was also a lot into cats. I was raising cats – I have four of them right now- and in Egypt they liked cats, they even mummified them.

To be honest, sounds pretty dumb but at first I didn’t realize that Egypt was in Africa. I thought it was in the Middle East. And when I figured this out, it became way more interesting to me, because at the time I wanted to find out more about my real culture. Not just African-American, more so where I really came from, and even though we all are one, I wanted to know where my gene pool came from.

I liked how the Egyptian civilization was so advanced and so mysterious. I had a few boards with an Egyptian influence, I had one on Profile. Kent from FTC has one of these, I should have got that one from him too. He bought it off off Ebay for a couple hundred dollars.”

Mad Circle Elements (1998)
Art by Jesse McMillan

“I’m really into the universe and how interconnected we are with it. And I really wanted to show somebody with locks, not me, but a person with dreadlocks and the dreadlocks would be roots going to the earth, the hand was connecting to the sun, the moon and stars. So we’re all connected to the world around us.

I got aware of all this from reading books, and from wanting to know more about life. Around that time I was reading Celestine Prophecy, The Prophet, The Way of The Peaceful Warrior, this kind of books. It just came from my own curiosity, I was definitely a wild kid but my mother was always into meditating, so I got exposed to all this at a young age even though I didn’t respect it then.

Working with Jesse McMillan was the best opportunity, man. I could tell him anything, I didn’t have to worry how it would turn out. I never usually ride my own boards but this one was one of the first one I did skate. It was one of my best-selling boards but I have no idea how many sold. Maybe 800 boards for three months? That was a lot, then.”

Expedition Robocop (2000)
Art by Dave Kinsey

“After Mad Circle went under, I was sponsorless for about a year and a half. Out of nowhere, I saw the first Expedition ad in a magazine and I just called them.

I talked to the owner personally then I was on trial basis for six months, filming a part for the video. I guess they liked my footage and put me on the team. I liked the company’s diversity, I liked that Chany was on there, I liked that they had people from different countries, Stéphane Larance, I love that.

This was probably my third board on Expedition, it was part of a series. That was me as a Robocop, it’s definitely one of my favorite graphics cause it looks like me but it doesn’t look like me. I think he captured my eyes, they look exactly the same, even though one eye you can’t see. Plus it had the Innerlock Technology, people weren’t ready for it. We’re gonna bring it back soon. It was probably the best technology invented for skateboarding.”

Organika Wildlife (2009)
Art by Ron Choe

“We started Organika in 2001, it’s half mine and half my boss, he’s the owner of Expedition as well. The way that came about is that I got an offer from another sponsor to be paid three times as much, I turned it down and he was like, “hey man I respect that, we’re gonna give you a wheel company.”

Some time passed and he was like, “Forget it, you can do a board company.” He did come up with the name, I for example was thinking of using Altered, like “altered state of mind”, I really liked that name cause I didn’t wanna push my lifestyle on people. I didn’t wanna portray too much the organic thing cause it was putting more pressure on me to be exactly like that at all times -even if I am like that, but you know what I’m saying.

But these dudes are smart people and they saw the vision, and it worked out. I put a lot of trust in him, and he’s never failed me. I love the colors on this board, it has to be one of my favorite Organika graphics so far. I like anything with animals on it.”

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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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