Shinobu by Miya Ando

Some of the coolest skateboard art we’ve seen comes fresh from Miya Ando (an Element Eden Advocate) in the form of this special edition steel skateboard. With hopes of soon having the piece in European galleries, proceeds once sold will be donated to the Red Cross on behalf of Miya and Element. Get the inside scoop behind this beautiful work from the Q&A with Miya herself.

1. Where did your inspiration come in creating this board?
I wanted to see a skateboard that was made out of a material that came from the urban environment. I work with steel and so I automatically think about things in metal. Hot-rolled steel diamond plate is one of my favorite materials because it’s something very industrial and used on sidewalks and on streets. If you look down, you’ll start seeing it! I thought it would be perfect for a skateboard and wanted to try to create an exact size/dimension/thickness board in steel instead of wood and refinish it in the way that I work with my steel wall works. I always thought from the first moment the idea came into my mind that the board should be made to do good – I wanted to put forth something compassionate and beautiful. I am hoping that it can help in this way. I decided to make a series of the boards and call them ‘Shinobu’ which means ‘endurance or perseverance’ in Japanese, I like the idea of committing to having good intention and sincerity with the works that one produces and staying true. I was really inspired by the Element family and values, and as an advocate I wanted to create something special. The diamond plate and steel seems very real to me. I think it represents strength and staying true no matter what.

2. In making the piece, did you do any research on the engineering of skateboard design?
I actually was put in touch with Brian Hanhart, Product Manager of Hard-goods at Element, who gave me the actual drawings and specs of the Element boards, I recreated it from those drawings and tried to be true to the exact dimensions.

3. Describe how lighting affects the appearance of the board and how that affected the way in which it was constructed?
I’m an artist who works with layering metal finishing techniques, I work a lot with fire and acid and heating up the steel and changing the colors, adding chemical patinas with heat and affecting the color and texture of the steel surface. I approached the skateboard in the same way as I do my steel wall works. Recently I’ve been working with luminescence and am very interested in light – I used a phosphorescent chemical on the board so that the edges are luminous in darkness. I love the idea that the phosphorescent chemical ‘charges’ during the day with the available light from wherever the board is and at night it is luminous and emits the light back to the viewer. I think of light as suggesting transformation and transcendence. The family of Element and all the good that can come about is really amazing. The luminosity to me conveys that feeling of wonder, it’s a little bit magical.

4. Where do you picture this piece best displayed?
I have it right now on the wall of my studio; it’s attached to the wall with really strong magnets! I think it can be anywhere, on a wall or leaning against the wall – even flat on a tabletop – I refinished the bottom side, the top is the diamond tread – I like both so I flip it around and sometimes just lean it against the wall. I keep making people hold it; they are all shocked at how heavy it is! 3/8″ steel is heavy!

5. If you could take this skateboard on a trip, where would you go?
Well…the deck isn’t actually ride-able…(at least not by me!) it’s very heavy…my friend wanted to put wheels on it and take it out and I told him that I thought it may kill him or someone else, it is super heavy…. but I’m hoping to show the board series in Europe this year. If I could take any trip right now, I’d go back to my 2 hometowns, Okayama and see my family and Santa Cruz and go sit by the ocean and look at the redwoods.

6. How long did this beauty take?
It took over a month, but it felt like it was over way too soon, I had a really, really good time making it.

The details behind the piece:

Title: ‘Shinobu’ (meditation 1)
Medium: 000 gauge (3/8″ or .375″) hot-rolled steel diamond plate, patina, phosphorescence and automotive lacquer
Size: 7.625″ x 31.375″ x .375″
Date: 2010

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About the author

My name is Lotta and I am one of the authors from the original SkaterGirl website. I'm a big fan of snowboarding, sushi and sangria!
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