dorkaholics’ Neil Bui had a chance to sit down and speak with Bear Walker, a premium board maker, about his journey “chronicling pop culture through skate art.”
dorkaholics (d): How did you get started with making your boards?
Bear Walker (BW): I started off trying to do it like everyone else in the industry with beachy, feel-good vibes. However, I’ve always been a film and comic book buff. My friend who owns a comic book shop asked me to make a board designed for his shop.
d: Who are your top favorite villains?
BW: My top 5 favorite villains are the Joker, the Red Death, Godspeed, Hunter Zolomon, and Deathstroke.
d: What are some boards in the works this year that you can talk about?
BW: I’m currently working on a board for Manu Bennett, who plays Deathstroke in Arrow. I’m also making a line of Joker boards to go with the upcoming Joker film coming out later this year.
d: How did you get started with making boards for celebrities?
BW: I made Grant Gustin a couple of boards two years ago. These were Grant Gustin boards, it wasn’t the Flash emblem, it was old vintage style skateboard.
d: Can you talk about the world of pop culture and skateboarding coming together?
BW: I feel like they’re meshing more and more now. DC and Marvel are taking over the world right now so many of the stuff I grew up with is now vintage. Like Stranger Things. People are looking for cool new things to collect and skateboards are a great new outlet.
d: Were you first a skateboarder or a comic book fan?
BW: I was first a comic book fan. My grandfather took me to theaters since I was a baby and I’ve been reading comics since I was 10. I surfed all my life and started skating in college when I was away from the beaches and the ocean.
d: Could you explain what the process is for bringing an idea for a board to life?
BW: I’m super OCD so things take me a lot longer than the average person. I spend 20-30 hours working on a design, cutting out a prototype, testing it and then throwing it in the garbage. I have a process for cutting the boards, making this functional piece of art look cool and useable – filing every edge, then going to the painting booth where I airbrush each board by hand. Then there’s an hour of miscellaneous touches. Three layers of clear coat. We’ve gotten to where we can do 50-75 boards a week now.
d: How have things changed for you since starting your business?
BW: Before I was doing boards that would get attention, now it has shifted to where I can have fun with pop culture such as making boards that go with a movie release. I have whiteboards everywhere that are scribbled with nonsense for all these little ideas that pop up. If the ideas still look good after a few weeks, I sit down and try to make it a real thing.
d: Wow, that’s a lot of boards! What does your supporting team look like?
BW: 8 months ago, it would have been just me. Then I had my new righthand man, Kevin. I took him in as an apprentice and now he’s a production manager so I can focus on other matters. There’s Tristan who takes care of packaging and assembling the boards. There’s also a customer service associate and a shop assistant. We’ll be expanding soon with an in-house content creator and someone manning the storefront.
d: And where does all the magic happen?
BW: We outgrew our last shop 6 months ago, so I found this new workshop with a storefront and offices in the front with a warehouse in the back.
d: What’s to come for you this year?
BW: We’re doing a revamp of our website and that launches on May 1st. We’re going to continue making boards for people we admire, there are some pretty cool collaborations that will be revealed in due time, such as a giveaway with Bosslogic for reaching 1M followers on Instagram. We should be working together again soon once the stars align.
Learn more about Bear Walker here: