“I learned about Jeff Ho probably in the same way many skaters who came up in the 80’s did… I found out that key skate industry players like Tony Alva and Stacy Peralta were skaters on Jeff’s Zephyr team. A decade later some of Jeff’s team riders were flourishing, but as some things happen, the creative upstarts who pioneer a movement are often ahead of the curve and don’t reap the financial benefits or recognition that should come when culture finally catches up to the movement. I was very happy to see a bit of Jeff’s story told in the “Dogtown and Z-Boys” documentary and in Glen E. Friedman and Craig Stecyk’s “DogTown: The Legend of Z-Boys” book. I met Jeff at one of the Dogtown book signings in 2002, and he was nice, but reserved. I was honored to see Jeff at a few of my art shows over the years, but I had a bit of trouble reading him because he’s contemplative, subdued, and even a little intimidating. When Glen E. Friedman asked about doing a print of Jeff Ho, I was concerned that Jeff might not approve of me illustrating him, but Glen can be very persuasive, so I guess he convinced Jeff the collaboration was a good idea. I always enjoy working with Glen because he is very intense and passionate about his beliefs. It is completely fitting that Glen has a book called “The Idealist” because that is what he is. Glen had a few great shots of Jeff Ho from 2011, but there was one that to me captured not just Jeff, but the entire essence of surf/skate style. The photograph of Jeff in profile skateboarding down the sidewalk carrying his surfboard while the light breaks diagonally could be silhouetted to create an instantly recognizable and universal surf/skate icon. However, the fact that the subject is the pioneer Jeff Ho makes the image not merely iconic in an aesthetic, superficial sense, but iconic in a historical and truly authentic sense. In illustrating the image, I tried to amplify the lines, shadows, and textures that give the image its amazing character.
It is an honor to work with Glen and Jeff, two pioneers in the cultures that have made me who I am as a person. Thanks for what you’ve cultivated guys!” – Shepard Fairey
“My first thought about this image is that surfing and skateboarding have always been naturally combined. I love the water and I love rolling around on a skateboard. I built my first skateboard in the ‘50s and my first surfboard in the ‘60s, and I still surf and skate and love it. I enjoy all of the things that I have learned besides just the function of making boards, like creating the art that goes along with it. Surfing and skating have a symbiotic relationship – it’s just a natural thing.
In this photo, I’ve got my Zephyr team surfboard and I’m riding my personal Zephyr skateboard. My brand is Zephyr and the logo is something I’ve been using my whole life. There are some vintage markings on my winged tri-tail surfboard, but this is a modern version of something I made in 1976. I brought it up to current times with the quad thruster design. Going from the traditional longboard to a shorter board changed surfing, and I have always experimented with lighter materials and different board shapes. Making a board shorter makes it easier to whip around because of the smaller turning radius. Surf skate style can be fluid and smooth, but it can also be aggressive when attacking the lip, just like attacking the coping of a pool when you’re skating.
There’s a similarity between surfing a wave and skating a pool and there’s an attitude too. My goal was to be progressive and do things that weren’t the status quo and build equipment that would take you there and allow you to do something that hasn’t been done before. The Zephyr competition team had the attitude and the aggression and the surf skate style was naturally in their DNA. I nurtured that and gave them surfboards and skateboards and then pushed them out into the world. In this photo, I was wearing Levis, Vans and a Zephyr jacket, shirt and hat, which is what I provided to the Z-Boys to give them a sense of identity. This image creatively represents the 50 years that I’ve been skating, surfing and building boards.
Glen E. Friedman, world-renowned photographer and author, took this original photograph, and the image says everything – surf and skate. Glen is a straight up guy and a good friend, so when he called me to ask if he could make a portrait, I was stoked. I grabbed my surfboard and skateboard and met him down at the Venice Skatepark. He felt as though we made a solid portrait with just six photos shot then he said, “Let’s get a skating shot.” We were on Horizon or Market street just off the strand in Venice, and he ran ahead of me on the street and said, “Skate by this wall and I’ll see if I can make a photo i like.” I was skating along and he made the single photo, just one attempt, and said, “I got it.” The whole time he only shot six or seven photos, it was the end of a roll he wanted to finish. Well, it’s film, so nobody knows what’s on there until it gets developed. But as soon as Glen sent me the photos, I loved them, and I was like, “Damn, homie knows how to shoot photos.” There were three really outstanding images and this one was number 37 of 36 frames on that roll of black and white. It was the end cut, full frame. Sometimes a photographer can stretch an extra frame out of a roll, and this was one of those. That’s tight and the shot is beautiful. Glen used it in his book, “My Rules”, and Shepard chose this photo for the poster, which is really cool.
Shepard Fairey is a globally recognized, iconic artist and political activist and I have so much respect for all the art he has given to the world. I’ve always admired Shepard and I have a lot of love for what he’s done for our culture and I am so honored to have been included in his body of work. He’s made so many iconic posters and this one really looks incredible. I’m so impressed with how he used the shadowing and the colors. I don’t know if I’m the first surfer on a Shepard Fairey poster, but I think I’m the first surfboard builder, which is amazing. We had some discussions about the poster because one of Shepard’s favorite colors is red and I said, “Could we do a blue one?” So Shepard made a blue one and there was an option for another color and he made the gold-colored poster. When he showed them to me, they were fuckin’ rad. I love them both and can’t decide which one is my favorite. Working with Shepard has been an awesome experience and I truly appreciate the art that he has created.
This limited edition poster features an iconic photo by Glen E. Friedman, with exceptional art by Shepard Fairey, which has been autographed by all three of us. Thanks to Shepard and thanks to Glen. I’m honored to work with them both. Mahalo.
You can find my Zephyr shirts, hats, and skateboards here.” – Jeff Ho
“When I was a kid in the mid 70’s skating the school yards in West L.A., hanging out a bit at the beach in Santa Monica, going by the Zephyr shop to get some Cadillac Wheels or to look at the boards, Jeff Ho was not in sight. Jeff Ho was an enigma. I never knew Jeff personally until many years later, but we eventually became good friends.
Something most don’t realize is that Jeff started the ZEPHYR skateboard team to help kids, mostly street kids, hoping to give guidance and care, to help steer them to good. A lot of those skaters would become known the world over, and Jeff not only helped those kids back then, he continues to this very day doing the same for so many, on the down low, out of the spotlight.
Jeff is worshiped around the world. I’ve seen people bow down to him in the middle of the street when they see him, swearing he is the all-time best surfboard maker (Jeff was inducted into the Surfboard Shapers Hall of Fame just a few years ago). He was a skater before he was a surfer- he is an artisan in the water, on the street, and with the board.
Jeff has more integrity than most anyone I have met. He is a living legend and a real icon. All these are reasons, on top of those you’ve likely seen in the “Dogtown and Z-Boys” film, why I approached Shepard to collaborate on this fine art screen print. We looked at the few portraits I made with Jeff that afternoon, a few years back. Shepard was really drawn to this one (no pun intended), the same one that appears towards the end of my MY RULES book, accompanied by Jeff’s essay. Shepard can explain more on why he picked this one, but I can tell you that I’m stoked to have done it again. I feel Shepard’s graphic representation of some of my photographs, in his icon-creating style, is an honor for the subjects as well as the collaborators, because the man is a craftsman and an intelligent, stand-up guy like few others in his field. Dig it.” – Glen E. Friedman
Jeff Ho Zephyr (Gold). 18 x 24 inches. Screen print on cream Speckle Tone paper. Signed by Shepard Fairey, Jeff Ho, and Glen E. Friedman. Edition of 300. $70. Available Thursday, April 6 at 10AM (PDT) on ObeyGiant.com in Store under Prints. Limit 1 per person/household.