From having his feet star on the cover of our second issue to making our 10th issue birthday cake, Andy Murphy has always answered the sporadic call of the Journal. He’s even gone as far as humiliating himself at our expense, dressing up as his trick’s namesake and more recently jogging along St Kilda beach with a plump set of cantaloupes.
These days Andy still lives and breathes art and skateboarding – making a living from the former and battering his body with the latter. He also turns ridiculous ideas in to incredible T-shirts: In this case his homage to Australia’s beer sculling larrikin ex-prime minister Bob Hawke and one of the highest selling Skateboard graphics of all time, Tony Hawk’s iconic Iron Cross pro model, designed by Vernon Cortlandt Johnson. The whole combo resulting in a menagerie of purchasable awesomnity. I recently tracked Andy down in his Melbourne studio and threw some questions at his pun laden brain…
Art is your job right?
I haven’t had a part time job outside of it for about 3 years. So, yes, I’ve somehow made it work… Just.
I was hoping to paint a picture of the ever-struggling artist in an attempt to sell some T-shirts here!
That’s not too far from the truth, but I do like to try and paint a picture of professionalism and success… even if that’s sometimes is not the case, it is definitely my intention.
There’s no arguing you’re a skate-lifer, but is the majority of work outside of skateboarding?
There’s not money in the skateboarding side of things. Big surprise to you, right? But, sometimes there’s not a lot of money in the commercial side of things either. But every now and then, good jobs definitely come along. I do a lot of sign writing and mural type stuff. Sometimes a combination of the two. But, I do always try to keep them looking like skate graphics. As in when I’m painting I don’t go too crazy with shading and 3-D and all that kind of stuff, because my inspiration has always been old school skate graphics, like all the old screen-printed stuff.
Everyone I speak to who has ever worked on a mural always says something along the lines of they bit off more than they could chew…
Oh, I always underestimate how long a job is gonna take, even when I overestimate the underestimating. I just never take the little things in to account, just the stupid things. I try to always paint really clean lines and especially when you’re sealing with something like brick work, you have to paint between the mortar and lumps on the bricks. Even a rendered wall you think is clean has so many lumps and bumps. So when it comes to deadlines and detail. I’m my own worst enemy.
Torture for a perfectionist…
[Laughs] Oh, I watch other people work and they just seem to be able to smash it out, but, yeah, I definitely get pretty anal about ho clean the lines are.
Tell me about some of the skate orientated projects you’ve worked on. I know that’s a huge list but let’s at least touch on a few…
Well, I’ve done a lot of the Hoon graphics, maybe 10 just from looking up on the wall up here, I’ve done stuff for Vans, Pass~Port… You know what’s funny? I don’t drink anymore, but I seem to get a lot of work from alcohol companies! And those jobs only came along after I quit drinking.
Maybe you should quit skating and the board graphic jobs will start flying in?
You could be on to something. Those jobs do keep Bianca stocked up with wine.
Looking up on the wall of your studio here – I see a Girl, Eric Koston graphic you did. Gotta be stoked on that one?
I seriously didn’t even know that was happening. I painted the Girl doll for Fast Times, they asked Steve Gourlay, Rone, Callum Preston and myself to do one and then they turned it in to a series. Tebby (Andrew Tebb) from Fast Times just called one day and said, “I’m coming in to the workshop, I’m keen to check the studio out” So I was like, yeah cool – thinking at best he might want a T-shirt graphic done or something like that. He showed up with a board box, and I was thinking what are you doing? And he pulled the board out and I seriously started shaking. ‘What The fuck, it says ‘Koston’ on it!!!!’ That was pretty rad.
“I always underestimate how long a job is gonna take, even when I overestimate the underestimating…”
I hear you’ve been skating the big bowl at Brunswick on the regular? What’s the chance of an amazing photo of you to accompany these words?
What!!? Who told you that, Is twice a month regular?
I know it’s been more than that…
The second you said ‘skate shot’ the first thing that popped in to mind was “Oh, Shit, what trick can I dress up as this time?…” [Laughs] Sam Morgan came up with one of someone doing a crooked grind dressed in prison clothes, being chased by someone doing a 5-0 dressed as a cop [Laughs] Crooks and cops!!!
Oh, that’s a goodin… So, has all this vert skating re-ignited the stoke? Or just your intake of painkillers?
Well, it’s re-ignited me wearing kneepads!! [Laughs] I actually tend to feel good after skating the bowl. My back is already completely fucked and has been for years. I did take a really bad slam in there the other day though, but that was just bad luck. It’s so fun to be skating vert again. I’m re-learning all the tricks I use to be able to do on the old vert ramp at Prahran, which is over a decade ago.
Have you skated the new Prahran ramp much?
I fuckin’ hate that ramp! Remember how fun the old one was? Everyone use to skate it. All the street dudes, all the vert dudes and now it’s so big only 3 or 4 people even bother skating it. It sucks… That actually felt really good to get that off my chest!
Let’s use ‘getting something off your chest’ as a segue to sell these shirts! Where did the Bob Hawke graphic inspiration come from?
I actually found the original drawing just the other day; it’s from 9 years ago! I drew it after Nick Kilderry sent me a text asking me to draw a picture of Kevin Rudd skating but call him Kevin Rad!
That’s a horrible idea!!!
It’s fuckin’ terrible – but I told him I had this picture of Bob Hawke and then the penny dropped. Bob Hawke, Tony Hawk…
And one of the most iconic skate graphics of all time… Without dissing Kilderry’s Kevin Rad concept too much, I guess we need to credit his shit idea as the catalyst for this gem.
Oh, if you need shit ideas, he’s your man! [Laughs]
There’s a good chance a lot of people under 40 wont even know who Bob Hawke is – I assume you’re a fan?
For sure, is that a good thing?
Well, he does go down in history as one of Australia’s most beloved Prime Ministers…
And he was also a bit of a raging alco, but I guess that’s one of the reason’s everybody loved him.
How do you feel about the rumours he has the world record for skolling a yard glass of beer?
That’s no rumour! That’s an actual fact. I’ve seen this thing of him at a university in Western Australia with the full deal documented… It’s also on the internet, so it has to be true, right?