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Awesome Art Made From Recycled Skateboards

Tokyo artist Haroshi makes wildly colorful art from hundreds of stacked skateboard decks.

Here's a skating trick that's neater than a dolphin flip: recycling hundreds of old boards into wild, candy-colored sculptures that get you exhibited all over the world.

That's the sick skill of Tokyo artist Haroshi, who has spent years refining his process of turning boards into eye-slapping showpieces. Haroshi started down this path when he took up skateboarding as a teenager; as explained on his website, he soon became smitten with the physical architecture of a good board:

He knows thoroughly all the parts of the skateboard deck, such as the shape, concave, truck, and wheels. He often feels attached to trucks with the shaft visible, goes around picking up and collecting broken skateboard parts, and feels reluctant to throw away crashed skateboards. It’s only natural that he began to make art pieces (i.e. recycling) by using skateboards. To Haroshi, his art pieces are equal to his skateboards, and that means they are his life itself. They’re his communication tool with both himself, and the outside world.

The artist's eye for skateboard parts comes in handy when assembling these peculiar objects. Because decks vary so much in terms of shape, he peruses a mental catalog of thousands of boards to conclude which ones will neatly stack together. Then he pulls off the grip tape and glues the decks into a wooden monolith that he attacks with tools. At the finish line is a pile of wood shavings and an amusing objet often referencing skater culture – a smiling cat doing a street plant, a pair of classic Airwalks, a skull complete with braces and a gold front.

Haroshi's latest show, "Pain," is on view at the London gallery StolenSpace. For folks who can't get down there to check out his new art, including one majorly wicked self-portrait, here's a sampling of his earlier sculptures. These showed this year at New York's Jonathan LeVine Gallery:


"Cat Plant"

"Invisible Shoes: Air Walk"

"Possessed to Skate"

"Skate Bullet Smile"

"Skate Rat 1" and "Skate Rat 2"

The board-master with gallerist Jonathan LeVine:

Photos courtesy of the Jonathan LeVine Gallery

About the Author

  • John Metcalfe
    John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.