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Deck the Walls with Skate Deck

The Art of Michael Richardson

by Jeff "Prince" Najar
12/10/2022


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NASCAR great Rusty Wallace with Coyote Ugly Gal holding up Mike’s board.
NASCAR great Rusty Wallace with Coyote Ugly Gal holding up Mike’s board.

 
The world as subscribed by Michael Richardson’s art is full of Southern-fried funk, eye popping graphics, face melting illustrations, metal-flake designs, screamin' guitars, and fast vixens.

In three words, Richardson creates, “soul-satisfying stories,” through his artistic view. And he adds a twist to his designs. His work is peppered with Easter eggs.

Easter eggs, you say? For those uninitiated, an Easter egg is a message, image, or feature hidden in art. For example, Ethan Van Sciver hid the word "sex" in the background of nearly every page of New X-Men #118 Comic Book, (November 2001).
 
Mike Richardson’s Big Foot Big Foot
Mike Richardson’s Big Foot Big Foot

 

I started writing after an earful from Bandit asking me what I had done lately? I hadn’t done anything. I’d just walked in after dropping the Sporty and wrenching my back. I told him that but Bandit gives no fucks. So, I took a Delta 8 gummy from Original Origins and sat down to write. Suddenly a creative jolt overtook me...
Link - https://www.buyorigins.com/

Enjoying the Flying Piston Breakfast with Biker Shenanigans
Enjoying the Flying Piston Breakfast with Biker Shenanigans

 
 
Mike did the inspirational trick. He is a multidisciplinary visual artist living and working in North Carolina. I met the creative one while producing the Flying Piston Benefit Builders Breakfast in Sturgis and found his art captivating. We bought his original skate deck displayed at the “Art on Deck” feature of the Flying Piston Benefit auction. Then used his deck to engage people at the charity breakfast to hold, comment, or as a tug of war. Auction attendees just loved it.

This skateboard art is a psychedelic tribute to Easyriders’ artist, David Mann. The bull skull represents Sturgis and is poking up through the pavement and ripped the tire. The chopper is coming down the highway and the rider will rescue her and load her up for the run to Sturgis. And you also see a set of eyeballs of an animal that's hiding with the chopper flying over his head. Quite a bit of action on the skate deck.
 
The Flying Monkey Board
The Flying Monkey Board

 

Mike has been making art since he could hold a crayon in his little mitt. Traditional artists never resonated with him. What did resonate with him was comic books, old vinyl album covers, and skateboard art from the late '80s, early '90s.

He is a guitar player and grew up around family members who were really big into music. What captured his imagination and had a big impact on him was the crazy illustration located in the inside sleeve of the Guns and Roses album, Appetite for Destruction.

It turns out it was underground West Coast artist Robert Williams’ controversial painting depicting the interruption of a robot rape by an avenging metal angel. I know, Robert was out there...

Beauty and the Beast
Beauty and the Beast

 
 
As Mike looks back on his early work he can see Williams as a big influence even though he didn’t really know him or his work for many years. It turns out Williams worked for Ed “Big Daddy” Roth in the ‘60s and was big in motorcycles and Hot Rods.

Another influence was skateboarding. One cultural icon that he leaned into was Jimbo Phillips out of Santa Cruz. The old illustration design combined with that crazy Hot Rod monster style provided a lot of room for Mike to create innovative designs.

His 2nd board for the Flying Piston Benefit is a space theme one. The astro-monkey has his honey on his space chopper and it looks like he is flying away from the moon. He's cruising out in front of this little alien dude who is super-surprised that there's somebody else floating through his galaxy.
 
Coyote Ugly Girlz feeding Edge at FLying Piston
Coyote Ugly Girlz feeding Edge at FLying Piston

 
 
The alien is supposed to be the craziest thing out there, but then you've got this monkey, cruising through the solar system on a space chop. I think that CBD gummy altered my artistic prospective, but I wasn't sure in which direction.

When Mike isn’t helping out the Flying Piston Benefit, he does logos, branding campaigns, illustrations for apparel companies and illustrations for bands. Significant amount of work goes into designs that get merchandised through t-shits, cups, stickers and the like. In addition, he illustrates kids books.

In 2005, Mike earned a BFA in painting and printmaking from Appalachian State University, and received an associate's degree in graphic design and illustration from Guilford Technical Community College in 2010.
 
Sketch for Mama Tried
Sketch for Mama Tried

 

Currently, Mike is the creative force behind Rebel Soul Studio, where he uses his eccentric illustration style to create poster prints, apparel, stickers, skateboards, hand-painted custom shoes, and original paintings. Mike lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, with his wife Jennilee and their two amazing children, Olivia and Hendrix in the shell of a rusting '59 Cadillac.

Also, here are a few links where his work is available for purchase online:

Rebel Soul Teepublic online Shop - https://www.teepublic.com/user/rebelsoulstudio

Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/rebelsoulstudio/

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