Happy Friday and welcome back to another week of Comacan Questions. As you may have caught on by now, we enjoy asking people the inspiration behind why they chose to start their businesses, why they chose to start skateboarding or in this case why they choose to create the art that they do. Now of course we ask some skateboarding related questions, as we know our guest today from skateboarding. However, we wanted to take a deeper look at the pieces and the history of this week’s guest. Please join us for today’s interview with Adam Pepler, A.K.A Damn, Grandpa.
How did you get into skateboarding?
I was given a skateboard (a Variflex) for my 6th or 7th birthday, which would have been 89/90. It was such a cheap board, cheap wood, terrible wheels, trucks that didn’t turn, but I was stoked! I remember the thrill of standing up for the first time and bombing my driveway. I had a sick Ninja Turtles board and a hand-me-down Turbo II after that, but I only used them to get from point A to point B. I didn’t know about tricks or that there was a whole culture around skateboarding at that point. Then in ’95 a friend got a legitimate board, showed me an ollie, and my mind was blown. Shortly after that I got my hands on a VHS tape of Toy Machine’s Welcome to Hell, and after seeing that video, it was on. I’ve been hooked ever since.
How long have you been skateboarding?
About 31 years. So nearly my entire life.
What does skateboarding mean to you?
At the core, for me, skateboarding is about the time spent hanging out with your friends, checking out new spots, and having fun. I’ve been skateboarding for most of my life, and I’m grateful I’ve found something that’s brought me so much joy for such a long period of time. It’s been my creative outlet, coping mechanism, something I could pour stress into and always come out the other end feeling better. I’ve met so many rad people through skateboarding. I feel like I owe a lot to this toy, so I don’t take one minute of it for granted.
How long have you been making art?
I’ve only been making art as Damn Grandpa for a couple of years. I drew a lot as a kid and got into photography in high school, but I wouldn’t say I was making a lot of art even 5 years ago. It really started as a joke. I’d do little weird drawings with my kids, and then I started leaving them around the house for my wife to find. That sort of transitioned into doing more weird drawings and posting them online.
Do you sell your art in any way?
If someone wants to buy my art, I’d be thrilled! I know there’s a buyer out there for the illustration of an old man with a ball gag in his mouth – hit me up! I’ve sold some prints here and there as well as a watercolour painting. I shape solid oak skateboards and paint them, and I’ve sold a few of those, but other than that I’m just doing it for fun. I’m always super stoked if someone is interested in owning some of my art though. Slide into those DMs.
Do you make custom pieces?
I’ve done one or two commissions for friends. I’m always down to do more if they come my way.
How do you relate your art to skateboarding?
I don’t think the subject matter I choose for my art is related to skateboarding (apart from the actual skateboarding illustrations), but I think it comes from the same creative place in my brain. The two activities feed each other. I find I have more ideas of what I want to draw after I’ve had a good session skating.
What is it that creating your art means to you?
It’s an outlet. I feel good when I’m done an illustration. I think it helps me process what I see going on in the world or in my own life. The world is absurd, and I think my art reflects that, and helps me make sense of it. It’s a fun way to spend my time, so I’m going to keep doing it.
Advice to other artists or skateboarders?
I barely know what I’m doing day-to-day, so I don’t think I’m in much of a position to give advice. What works for me when making art is to just keep doing it, even when I don’t have a clear idea of what I want to do. When I’m sitting down to do an illustration, and I don’t have an idea, I just start the process anyway and see where it goes. I trust I’ll find the ideas along the way. I don’t know if that’s useful or not. Just keep doing whatever you’re into and enjoy the process of doing it as much as possible.
Anyone you’d like to thank?
I’d like to thank you, Scot, and Comacan. You guys were early supporters, which has encouraged me to keep going. Also, Jay and The Local Skateshop have supported my art from the start. My family and friends for all the encouragement. It can be terrifying to make art and then put it out into the world, so those kind words from people close to me keep me motivated. Thank you.