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Our first introduction to Cosme’s work was via Colin Read’s incredible 2016 video, Spirit Quest. Those animated transition scenes between the skateboarding and the animal footage, yep, that was Cosme. In the years since Spirit Quest, Cosme has begun working closely with the likes of Josh Stewart and Jahmal Williams of Theories of Atlantis and Hopps respectively. In an interview amidst moving from South London back to his native Spain, we asked some questions to discover more about his craft, his work with Theories, and general skate nerdery.
How did you first get into drawing, did it come before skateboarding? Do the two things inform each other for you? Skateboarding came first, but I believe that both things were linked. I was not a good student back in school - it all felt boring, grey and gloomy. I’m talking early 90s in a small town in the north of Spain. There wasn’t any artistic stuff going on. I just remember being bored in class and drawing skate related stuff on my books. Tricks, spots, graphics or company logos that I had seen in skate magazines.
Which artists or illustrators inspire you or inform your work? I didn’t have a proper art education until I got into an art school much later. I started to pay attention to the art in the first issues of Slap Magazine, this was right at the beginning with the bigger format and illustrated covers. Art had a more important presence in Slap compared to the rest of the mags and I noticed names like Sean Cliver, Mark McKee and Andy Jenkins that popped up often. Those are probably my first influences and the ones I tend to look up to check how they’ve solved particular problems. Also, I love Evan Hecox and Geoff McFetridge’s work.
People will likely be familiar with your work from Colin Read’s video, Spirit Quest. How did you become involved in that project? He got in touch with me while still filming for the project. I believe he had seen some old animations I did in the past for a Lakai promo. Maybe we had linked previously ‘cause I bought Tengu directly from him and might have exchanged some emails, can’t remember exactly. What I recall is when he told me about the Spirit Quest concept, I had just moved to London and was sleeping in my friends living room in Camberwell. We started working on the animations soon after and kept going back and forth for a whole year.
You also did the artwork for Brett Nichols’ video, Pathways, another conceptual video. What was the idea there? Brett first asked me to design the cover for the DVDs and that turned into making the titles and credits. Pathways had a really interesting concept, all the spots are modern art sculptures and urban art.
People can, and should, check out your animations of skateboarders on Instagram. What inspired these, and without giving too much away, can you describe your process? Oh, thanks - I first started doing them as small exercises. Back then I was working at an ad agency doing mainly commercial graphic design. I hadn’t had the chance to do any actual animation in quite some time so while I wasn’t busy I started to do these short animated clips of tricks, quick loops. This was around the same time that Instagram first introduced the 15-second video feature. I taught myself to animate, so at the beginning, the process was really clunky - rotoscoping original skate footage in Photoshop. Then I learned how to properly use the timelines for Cel animation and AfterEffects to edit.
Recently you’ve been working a lot with the Theories of Atlantis. A lot of the designs you’ve been doing have been homages - the Fucked Up Nerd Kids, the Newman board. How did this relationship come about and how do these graphics come to be? Is it a collaborative process? It was happenstance. I can’t remember how exactly but I believe Joel Meinholz saw some of my stuff online, he showed it to Jahmal Williams who then hit me up about doing something for Hopps. I sent him some concepts that went nowhere, but he was with Josh Stewart who thought that some of those ideas could be tweaked into Theories graphics and we took it from there. Usually, at the start of each season, it’s Pat Steiner who hits me up with some themes to work on and if I come up with an idea myself I’ll pitch it to them both.
The graphics are often laden with references, is this simply skate nerdery? Or do you think there’s an importance in having an understanding of what’s come before us in terms of skateboarding’s culture and history? Yeah, all those references are little homages. I mean, graphics need to work aesthetically even when those references are lost. But if certain people do get them it functions as a head nod that works both ways, it takes a nerd to recognise another. We all belong together in sharing that cultural baggage we have in common.
You work almost exclusively with brands that are on the ‘artier’, more creative, end of the skateboarding spectrum - namely Hopps, Traffic, Dial Tone and so on. Has this been a conscious choice on your behalf or something that’s occurred naturally? It occurred naturally but could also be unconscious on my part. The only other people that I ever contacted, around the same time as Jahmal, were Chris Aylen at Isle and Fabien Fuchs at Polar, both brands are under the Theories Of Atlantis umbrella. Honestly, Josh is extremely nice to work with.
From speaking to you before I know that you’re a big fan of Jahmal Williams, it must have been a dream come true to design a board for Hopps. It was inspired by Jahmal’s Static IV part too right? Yes, and that was another of the concepts tweaked from the first batch of ideas I sent him. Josh thought it would be a nice graphic to do as a collaboration between Theories and Hopps because it features that backflip that Jahmal does from the top of the red cube in his Static IV part. After that, I was also asked to do some animations for a promo clip for the brand.
You may have just answered this with the previous question but, do you have a favourite graphic of yours? One that was particularly fun or rewarding to work on? That might be the Newman graphic for Theories, but for different reasons. It’s because it was not just another one-off board, it was the first graphic that I pitched to them directly and it got approved instantly. It felt like a sign that I was now part of the operation. It got some really nice feedback from the shops - it’s a simple graphic whilst at the same time playful and full of those homages we were just talking about.
I’m a big fan of your recent Wasteland series for Traffic, is this the first time you’ve done a full series of boards? What inspired that series? How does this process differ from working on an individual graphic? Oh, thanks. I appreciate it, it truly means a lot. Yes, it’s the first time I’ve done a series. I’d been thinking about it for the longest time since it was inspired by this classic Ricky Oyola photo where he is doing a frontside 180 to fakie nosegrind on the hood of an abandoned car. I thought it might be a cool idea for Traffic to do a series of crashed cars, and after the first sketches, it made sense to place them all together on the same urban scene, which ended looking like a wasteland. I just had to be careful with the continuity between the different boards and pay extra attention to little production details, but it was a really rewarding feeling once they were out.
What are you working on at the moment, anything we can look forward to? More stuff for Theories and Dialtone’s new collections, and I also just did a couple of little animations for Dan Magee’s new video Cover Version, it was an absolute trip to work with Dan.
Hire Cosme to work for you via. cosmestudio.es
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