‘Chocolate has amazing art direction and always has. I just love anything really illustrative.’



July 2024

As per your interview with Solo a few years ago, you discovered the world of skateboarding through the internet. Can you provide more details of how this came about?
That’s right! It was after I’d left school, figuring out which direction to go in, Pretty Sweet had just come out and someone posted it somewhere, I was really intrigued and watched it and became completely fixated. I watched every Girl and Chocolate video that week, then branched out to other videos/companies,bought a skateboard and the rest is history! That was over 10 years ago now, time has flown.

You had to leave school early because you got ill which helped you turn into an artist. Would you say that drawing helped you heal?
Art is a huge part of my healing/processing. I didn’t really use it as a tool of expression at the time,but more as an escape. I didn’t tend to express what I was going through with my art at the beginning, but instead I would create idealistic scenes that were extremely different from my reality and often quite surreal as a way to put my mind elsewhere. I definitely still do this at times,but I’m trying now to find ways to channel my experiences through art. Also, the physical act of drawing/ painting is really soothing and therapeutic.

When you got better, there was no push from your parents to go back to school as you were very academic too?
I never actually got better; it wasn’t that kind of ‘illness’. The symptoms are still just as strong and are lifelong,but I’ve learnt to function as much as I can despite them, even though it’s often a real struggle. There are several communities and groups out there who go through the same/similar things (online and in real life), I think it’s really important to connect with people who can relate to you on difficult things. My parents never pressured me to go back to school, the environment and social aspects of school were some of the reasons I had to leave,so they knew going back would only make things worse. But I have recently become a university student from the comfort of my own home! There’s an online university called The Open University; I’m currently studying graphic design there. I can study in my own time in the comfort of my home which is perfect for me.

Any skate-inspired artists you follow that are not (yet) known to the wider audience?
All my skate art friends are absolutely killing it! Here are some of my favorite UK artist friends who are all well-known but always worth shouting out; Lizzie Heath is a supremely talented artist and such a great person, Jeremy Jones has such a unique style and is smashing it, Jack Hamilton creates incredibly expressive and recognizable work, Liisa Chisholm is always doing amazing things, and Lorna Goldfinch creates such beautiful paintings. I’d also love to mention Jodie Howard, she isn’t from the skate-world, but I found her work through the charity Unreal UK,and she is an incredible illustrator + artist (and definitely not unknown, she’s amazing).

Which board companies inspire you in regard to their design?
I’m riding a Skate Cafe board at the moment, the one with the green bike with the flowers in the basket. I love their style of graphics, really illustrative which is right up my alley. Unity is always up there – Jeffrey Cheung is a top-notch artist. Chocolate has amazing art direction and always has. I just love anything really illustrative.


In the interview with Solo, you said ‘I think the art world is really disconnected from the skate art world.’ 6 years later, do you still feel that way?
I don’t know if that came across exactly as I meant it, I imagine what I meant by that is they are run really differently. So, working as an artist in the skate world is quite different to working in the art world. Most of my work has been within the skate world,and the few times I’ve done stuff in the art world I can sense a difference. I imagine this is still quite true, although there are more cross overs now. I’m not an oracle of truth in each of these industries,but from my own experiences this is what I’ve found. In both industries one fact remains true in all areas, the bigger the company the longer they will take to pay you. (laughing.


Have you noticed an influx of female skate artists over the years now that so many girls skate too?
Yeh there’s definitely more and more of us as time goes on and the community grows! It’s great, the more the merrier. I’ve noticed that there are limited opportunities in the industry these days for illustrators and artists compared to a few years ago,my workload has dramatically reduced in the past couple years as a result, so hopefully this picks up and the big companies start investing their funds in the arts again as there’s loads of great artists out there in this field that deserve every opportunity that comes their way.

‘There’s nothing like seeing your experience in someone else’s work and feeling validated through it.’

Any proudest moment in your career that you can share?
In terms of biggest job,my contribution to the Vans global ad campaign last March sticks out for me. I filmed a video and created some artwork for their campaign, that was a really fun project and I felt really proud of what I created. In terms of personal growth in my work,my proudest moment was my exhibition ‘Through The Fog’ at Thames Side Studios in 2022. It was the first time I’d publicly spoken about Depersonalization/Derealization disorder, and the first time I’d created a body of work surrounding this condition. I felt very proud of myself, even if it nearly broke me at the time! (laughing) I hope to continue using my craft to shed light on struggles so many of us go though, there’s nothing like seeing your experience in someone else’s work and feeling validated through it.

You have not posted stuff on IG for some time. Any specific reasons?
(Laughing) With Instagram, I still post,just a bit less these days. I felt a huge pressure to post a drawing every day to keep up with the algorithm,but then eventually realized it was making me lose my passion and love for art and decided that was more important. So, now, I only post when I actually have something to post, rather than pull something together that didn’t bring me any joy or have any meaning to it. I’m trying to be more intentional.

Anything left on your wish list?
Loads! I want to do more exhibitions,more group shows, maybe go into book illustration. Loads on my list,just got to find ways to do it! And graduate, although that’s a little while away yet!

If you could interview any person in the world, who would it be and why?
My dog. Just to get a gage of what she’s on about.

© Rafall Wojnowski