Patrick Savile on designing Yuto Horigome’s Olympic gold medal-winning skateboard

Taking us through the composition, Patrick says, “We kept them pretty straightforward.” Most of his boards feature a central image between the trucks with some type below. While the execution came naturally to the designer, nailing the concept was the hardest part of the process. He looked to classic airbrush artists for the aesthetic, drawing from 70s and 80s trailblazers such as Peter Palombi, Masao Sato, Philip Castle and Sorayama. While the majority of skateboard designs feature block colours or screen print-style prints (which Patrick remembers well from his teenage years), he wanted to do something different with his designs. “I suppose you could say the graphics pop nicely,” he says.
When graphic designer Patrick Savile was commissioned by April Skateboards to design a few decks, little did he know that one of them would be used for an Olympic gold-winning performance. The London-based designer was approached by co-owner Shane O’Neill for his surreal airbrush techniques that we’ve seen grace many a graphic poster or artwork in the past. Patrick ended up designing a bunch, including three for Yuto Horigome, the professional Japanese skateboarder who recently claimed the title as the first person to win a Gold Medal in skateboarding at the 2020 games. He’s also designed boards for Diego Najera, Rose Decks and Shane O’Neill himself.
Though Patrick is an established designer, well known in his field, the task of designing skateboards presented a whole new challenge and was, he says, “one of the most challenging pieces of work I’ve done to date”. Forced to learn numerous new techniques to push the work to suit the shape and function of a skateboard, Patrick had to learn quickly how to design the boards efficiently as the designs incur high production costs on a tight budget. Because he had no prior experience designing for the sport, he approached the brief with a fresh go-with-the-flow attitude.
Patrick’s collaboration with April Skateboards marks his first foray into design for the sport. “I’m not going to lie,” Patrick tells us, “I haven’t really given the world of skating much thought since I gave up trying to do it myself years ago, but it is definitely a blessed world to be part of.” The airbrush style seen across the new boards is a style Patrick has been working towards of late, a “central force” seen across his portfolio. Abstraction and weirdness pepper the designs, tied together with surreal themes which see Patrick depict hazy skies, luxurious banquets, peace-giving doves and more.