Skate or Die With the Winner of Our “Shred” Challenge!

And as the myth goes: Icarus shredded too close to the sun. Whether you’ve been boarding forever or prefer to keep decks on your wall rather than under your feet, we can all agree that skate culture has left an indelible stamp on everything from art to fashion to our everyday language. And artist Victor Calahan (@v_calahan) took “skate or die” and kickflipped it into a “design or die” attitude to create the winning design for our Shred challenge! Using a tattoo-inspired art style, this is a design that skaters and non-skaters alike can appreciate. See WIP for this design below and find out how it all came together!

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First things first, what are three things you’re currently excited about?

Eating my homemade Orloff/ratatouille sandwich, having coffee, and getting back to a new series I’ve started working on. Sneak peek…

You like to do a lot of parody designs! What, to you, makes a great parody?

Of course – since we’re talking graphics here – it’s about capturing the essence of your subject, stylistically speaking, but most of all it’s about having a good concept; a sweet n’ witty twist that will make it stand out.

WIP sketches for “Icarus Air Grab“.

What was the process behind this design?

As soon as I have the idea, I’ll look at references. On this, I checked traditional tattoo art to get a feel for what defines that particular style. From there, I’ll make a sketch, scan it, and refine it until I’m satisfied with the linework and then finish with the coloring and texturing process if needed.

Icarus Air Grab” on just a few products! Top row: men’s extra soft tee, phone case, and women’s sponge fleece zip-up hoody. | Bottom row: drawstring bag, men’s 3/4 sleeve raglan tee, and water bottle.

How did the idea for this design come about? Did you have any other ideas for this challenge?

When I saw the challenge, I just thought, “dat cool, I want in!” So I launched the “whatamagonnado?” process. For “Rise” I wanted to do something tattoo-style (I missed the tattoo challenge last year which was frustrating, but it was great; lots of awesome stuff!). I love the traditional tattoo style and that’s what I went for. As for the idea, it was based on the fact that skaters ‘n surfers keep pushing the limits, that I wanted an eagle for the traditional tattoo reference, and a skeleton ‘cause skulls ‘n bones are cool. I stirred gently for a while and came out with the final idea. 

For my other sub was “Like Hell“, I thought of skate tricks and the devil immediately appeared to me!

Like Hell” – now in V_Calahan’s Artist Shop!

What attracted you to this challenge? Do you surf or skate?

I used to skate as a kid but even then I was more of a BMX guy. Nonetheless, the fun and rebellious part always appealed to me, along with the music & art that have always been part of both.

F…ck the Water

You do a lot of beer label designs – is this just for fun or have you designed beer labels professionally?

Naaaaah, fun! I’ve only ever done the Game of Thrones labels series. Don’t ask why, but GOT makes me think of beer and I had the idea of “what if the characters were good old vintage beer brand coasters?” I’m up to twelve to this point. 

A Hero’s Return“, V_Calahan’s winning design for our Mythology challenge.

Beer of choice?

I’m totally polyglot when it comes to beer. :P We are lucky to have a lot of great beers to choose from in Europe! I’ll enjoy anything from a gueuze lambic, a trappist to a stout, a pilsner or a white beer, I do have a soft spot for Belgian brands though, it’s beer paradise…

Ray-Gun” parody in V_Calahan’s Artist Shop.

What’s your go-to favorite podcast or book for creative or personal inspiration?

What’s a podcast? It sounds dirty! To be honest, nothing specific. Of course there are a lot of great creative things that I love out there, so yep, it can be art. But it also can be music, politics, a conversation, something I saw, a memory… you know, whatever causes the spark!

Anything else you’d like to share?

Chuffed about the win, wasn’t expecting it! So thanks again for the support everyone! Hugs! 

See more of the winning design! 

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Carlyn Hill

Dad joke aficionado, cartoonist, & contributor for sites like HelloGiggles and The Mary Sue by night. When I'm not writing or drawing, you can find me in my cave of a room hanging out with my boyfriend, Netflix.