Atomic Peace Quickstrike: Jeff Kendall Interview

As part of the release for the new Santa Cruz Skateboards “Atomic Peace Quickstrike”, we caught up with Jeff Kendall to find out a little bit more about how his classic Santa Cruz graphics came to be…

What was the initial inspiration behind the End Of The World (E.O.T.W.) graphic?

As a young kid I was fascinated (but frightened) of nuclear war. The TV movie called The Day After that came out in the early 80’s really had an effect on me. It didn’t seem that far-fetched at the time – and it wasn’t.

Were you paying much attention to world politics at the time?

Not really, but I was well aware of the “second” cold war and arms race between US and Russia, which was a concern.

I guess the Cold War and the threat of nuclear missiles was in the news a lot around then?

The media attention definitely heightened the tension.

The Atomic hands on the E.O.T.W. deck have a serious WarGames feel; did that movie play any part in the inspiration?

Good catch. Yes, that was a graphic-inspiring movie for me. A friend of mine pointed out similar looking hands on a book while we were scanning a bookstore for graphic ideas. I liked the way it looked and the WarGames tie. That movie was a bit prophetic in that artificial intelligence has become a reality.

It’s crazy how we’re talking about Russia, hacking and the impact technology has had on recent elections. Can you believe 30 years after the graphics came out they are still so worryingly relevant?

Pretty amazing. Their cyberwar abilities are probably the most worrying and relevant.

How do you feel when you see other brands doing versions of your graphics?

It’s very flattering. Hard to believe that 31 years later we are still reissuing those graphics and that they’re still on other brands’ radars as well.

What was it like to work with Jim Philips? Did you take ideas to him and how much involvement did you have at the time?

The first two graphics I had, we basically went back and forth via snail mail. It took a little longer than it would have today that’s for sure. Jim was great to work with, in that he would basically execute whatever concept you could articulate.

How much did having ‘End All’ at the end of Kendall influence the artwork? Or was that just a coincidence that Jim spotted and highlighted with different colours on later runs of the deck?

Ha. Actually, no influence at all. It was just a coincidence that Dave Friel, who was screen printing in production, highlighted in a run of my decks back in the late 80’s.

Did the graphics cause any controversy at the time of their original release? The Atomic Man holding a missile in one hand and the earth in the other is a very powerful image and having a partly destroyed up White House on the pumpkin deck I can imagine raised a few eyebrows?

I’m not aware of any controversies but I did receive a letter from a Nuclear Awareness group based in the States that complimented me on bringing the topic to light in a younger demographic. I saved the letter and actually stumbled upon it a few months ago.

Where did the inspiration for the pumpkin man come from?

The very first concept I had was one that featured the Headless Horseman. I actually hand drew that on a prototype deck I had back in the mid 80’s. It was more of a custom graphic at the time but the main inspiration for working a pumpkin into a later graphic.

Your graffiti graphic is a classic. Was that something you were doing at the time?

Negative.  I just liked the look of a lot of the New York subway graffiti.  I could paint a mean set of Black Flag “bars” and Dead Kennedy’s logo though.

Do you have a favourite out of all your graphics?

The End of the World is my favourite graphic I would say. I mean it was my first and the most memorable for me. Jim and I probably spent more time and thought working on that graphic.

I hear you spend a bit of time on the golf course these days, do you think you could take Trump out?

You said “take Trump out” hahaha. I used to play a lot more than as of late. Now that Trump’s president and he apparently has even more time to play golf, I’m pretty sure his index is a lot lower than mine.

When was the last time you dropped in on vert?

Probably about 6 months ago. But that’s all I did – drop in. I’m useless on a skateboard right now. I’m loving watching my sons, Cole and Parker, continue to progress. But come to think of it, dropping in on vert isn’t part of that. I need to talk to them boys.

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