The original Jason Jessee Guadalupe graphic almost wasn’t released.
Back in ‘91, or ‘92, or—wait, was it ‘89? It’s hard to say. “It kind of got a little crazy back there,” Andrew Cannon, Santa Cruz Skateboards’ brand manager tells me, “we don’t really have a complete archival list of graphics.” Whenever it was, when the board first went to print a bunch of the manufacturers with strong Christian backgrounds in the Santa Cruz factory refused to run it through, claiming they couldn’t print such holy imagery. An Our Lady of Guadalupe shrine had to be erected and a priest brought in to bless the image of the Virgin. Satisfied that it now had a Man of the Cloth’s seal of approval and was being conducted in a “holy way”, production continued and the Guadalupe board went on to become one of Santa Cruz, and skateboarding at large’s, most iconic graphics.
Now, Santa Cruz is revisiting this graphic with one of their longest tenured riders and Jason Jessee mega-fan, Eric Dressen. He recounts his initial stoke on Jessee and how, sparked after meeting him at a contest and watching his signature style, he still rocks the signature Jessee Guadalupe image to this day. As tribute, Eric did his own version. This small run of 250 boards was drawn by Eric and signed by both Jason and Eric. If you can’t get your hands on one of these limited edition decks don’t despair, they’ll be giving the board a full release in 2018, albeit without the signatures. “What’s really cool about this particular one—in my opinion—is that when you look at it, it totally looks like Guadalupe. But it’s also totally an Eric Dressen illustration,” says Andrew of the collaboration. “What I think is so sick about it is how much the graphic means to so many different people.” He excitedly continued, “Obviously there’s the religious side, but it’s also a majorly iconic graphic that screams Santa Cruz and screams that era. It was released sort of when the times started turning, so it’s really cool to see the longevity of it. It’s sacred in a religious sense, but to Santa Cruz it’s also sacred.”
Skateboarding is not immune to the ever-turning nostalgia machine. In fact, it’s probably become one of the biggest perpetrators of turning to look back, mining its reliable annals to turn a quick buck from an unsuspecting crop of clueless kids. It’s an important, historical graphic? Oh, sure, Junior, it’s very important, now buy ten of them. Given the volume that media and product come at us, it’s often hard to differentiate between a fast grab for cash and a thoughtful nod to where we came from. Anyone with at least one foot on a skateboard knows the Santa Cruz credentials are legit. There’s an air of prestige, history, and pure gnar around a Dressen/Jessee collaboration. Hopefully, this board will update the story and move forward.