A Snapshot of Detroit
Skateboard Design

Photography, Illustration, Branding

Detcidda came to me with a challenge to design their next skateboard with a "Detroit feel." Instead of recreating the ever-so-cliche city skyline, I decided to try to capture the Detroit skate scene today.

I began by choosing 15 of the most iconic skateboard spots in the city limits of Detroit. This included everything from a D.I.Y. skatepark in Midtown, to some slanted planters around a high school in the Northwest. I also wanted to capture social community locations, so I included the local skater bar, along with a skateboard shop in Hamtramck, and a skater-friendly donut shop Downtown.


I needed to decide on a color scheme. During World War II, the gold-tiled rooftop of the Fisher building was altered to an asphalt texture as to not attract attention from enemy planes. The asphalt wasn't able to rub off without damaging the gold, so green tiles replaced them. The Spirit of Detroit structure, downtown, is green, while he holds gold objects in his hands. Wayne State University also adopted green and gold as their school's colors. For these reasons, I picked 6 shades of green and 6 shades of gold to implement in each skate spot illustration.


I gathered the homies, and we skated each spot on the list over two weekends. At each place, I snapped a few pictures from several different angles. After loading the shots into my computer, I simply started tracing the lines with thin, black lines. When each spot was done, I chose 2-3 colors shades of green and 2-3 shades of gold from my selected color palette for the colorization process.

The Community

The Detroit skateboarding community doesn't just halt when it gets dark, rains, or when snow starts to fall. The community gathers in small groups to hidden skateparks, skate spots, and shop ramps. This board needed to reflect the entire community, so I had to include some of those locations. The Bronx Bar is a well-known skater bar, just up the road from the DIY Park, The Wig. During cold, windy winters, daring skaters can venture through abandoned Automobile Factories, like the Russell Industrial Center, where the lost had built ledges, ramps and flow-routes throughout.

The Ultimate Skate Tool

Although illustrating Detroit from our point of view may look pretty, I had to keep in mind that locals would be skating this deck as they tour the city. One of the biggest draws to city skating is the sense of discovery. Detroit has been changing so rapidly, that all this new construction, fresh paint, and flawless pavement makes for an ever-adapting urban skatepark. If the skaters plan strategically, they'll be able to hit consistent, well known spots while finding new obstacles along the way. For the newbies, they'll know what to look for around the city. As for the locals, they'll know what to hit next, simply by turning over their board.