Who really needs a deck review, and does anybody really want one?
The answers are “nobody” and “no.” Unless you’re doing something completely out of the ordinary, the tiny things that differ from board to board and how those align with your taste all depend on one specific thing—you. You buy the boards you like and maybe try a new brand based on a recommendation, a graphic or philosophy you dig. Well, scrap my snark at the top of this paragraph because here’s all of the above wrapped into one; a recommendation of some incredible looking boards that are completely out of the ordinary.
If you don’t know about Paisley Skates, you should. Owned and operated by legendary skateboard artist Sean Cliver and skater/artist Paul Urich, Paisley is quite possibly the sickest brand on four wheels today. Toss in the fact that each shape is handmade by Sean and legendary board designer/manufacturer Paul Schmitt (yes I used legendary two times to describe two different people), and you have something truly special. These graphics aren’t a collaboration with some pre-existing artist or your dad’s favorite psych-rock band. They aren’t a play to reach a bigger market in the malls. They are pure, born-from-the-streets, fuck-the-system skateboarding.
I recently spoke with Paul Urich and he assured me as much. The first board is an homage to homoerotic fetish artist, Tom of Finland. Allow me to use this sentence to call him legendary as well. That’s three times. Try and keep up! “This was just a weird brain fart that turned into a Cliver drawing,” Urich states. “You’re in a parking lot hanging and someone goes ‘that would be cool if we did this.’ We’re big fans of Tom of Finland and, like everybody, we love Danzig.” Those are good enough reasons to make a board for me. This one is a slick bottom deck because it shows Sean’s graphite pencil illustration in more detail.
Next, the Citizen Tania series, have a more common silkscreen graphic. Cliver lends his style to the imagery of the United Federated Forces of the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA), a rebel organization active from 1973 to 1975 who kidnapped Patty Hearst. “Sean and I have been fixated on Patty Hearst since we were little kids,” says Urich of the inspiration. “It’s just wild. And the imagery is so cool, I just think the seven-headed snake looks cool.” As I said, this is some fuck-the-system stuff. Like it or not, one thing’s for sure: when you slap Sean’s illustration on the classic Paisley background it really pops, you know what I’m saying?
And as for the shapes? “A lot of the time the board is made with the graphic that’s going on in mind. Sean, over the years, dude—that guy has made so many skateboards. He’s really good. You put him and Paul Schmitt in the same room and we come up with some crazy concepts,” Urich explains. This isn’t just a random cruiser board, it’s cooked up by two people who have been doing it a very long time.
This is still a deck review that nobody needs. But you do, or you will, need a new board. And skateboarding at large needs more people like Paul and Sean. People who pour their love and joy and anger into their decks. Kill two birds with one stone and buy one, for crying out loud! Cop a shirt while you’re at it. I’m going to end this by lifting some words straight from their Instagram bio: “Send two bucks, a self-addressed stamped envelope, drawings, ramblings & radness to Paisley Skates 483 14th St. San Francisco, California.” That right there is proof of how long they’ve been doing it, and really the only words this review needed.