Kids have always loved a cool skateboard, and many of the more artistic persuasion have sought to personalize their boards with stickers, spray paint or other artwork. There’s even a burgeoning genre of decorative art that uses skateboard decks as the canvas — I did a Google image search on “skateboard art” and got nearly 8 million hits.
Recently, I used Zazzle.com‘s online design system to create my own board. While the company provides a variety of type styles, I wanted to use Adobe Illustrator to design something a little more personalized. I found Zazzle’s system to be (while not as robust as I’d like) very slick and easy to learn.
Step One: Choose Your Deck
There are numerous models of boards available, ranging from competition to mini to “old school” decks. You can swap the different boards to see which looks best with your design, if you’re not sold on which one to get. For mine, I liked the look of the competition decks, and chose one that was 8 1/8″ wide.
Step Two: Create Artwork
Zazzle didn’t provide a template, but they did provide general dimensions. I used multiple gradations because I wanted to test the printing. How complicated can I go before the art starts looking iffy? Zazzle doesn’t accept .ai files so I exported to a 300dpi TIFF file, which weighed in at 100 megabytes for a 33″x9″ image. One concern was that Zazzle specifies a “safe area” around the edge of the board. I chose to make my design bleed through the “safe area” to the edge of the board, primarily because Zazzle doesn’t do templates but also to test how well they executed the edges.
Step Three: Upload
I uploaded my design to the site, moderately surprised that the system didn’t choke on such an unwieldy file. I was able to adjust how the file looked on the deck, and as mentioned, I could swap decks to see which board worked best with the artwork.
Step Four: Add Hardware
Zazzle features Independent trucks and Ricta wheels. Adding these increases the cost by about $100 a board — you simply click on “complete board” and trucks, wheels and grip tape are added to the order. However, you can buy the board by itself. (My wife expressly forbade me from completing the board, for fear that I’d embarrass myself on the front walk!)
Step Five: Shipping
Zazzle completes your board and ships in 24 hours, using UPS Ground, for about $13. That means you’ll get your board in about 72 hours!
I was very pleased with how the board turned out. The grain of the print was fairly obvious when looking close — typical for digital prints — but unless you were looking at it close than 2 feet chances are you won’t notice. My concerns about the “safe area” turned out unfounded, as Zazzle made the image go to the edge of the board without a glitch. All in all a very satisfying experience.
Two final notes:
1) If you design a cool board, you can have your design featured on the site and earn a royalty for each product someone else purchases.
2) There’s currently a sale on at Zazzle, get 40% off any skateboard — dropping the price of a completed board to about $100 or a deck only for $35. This sale is only for this week, so order quick if you want to take advantage of it!