Wax The Coping: Josh Row's Epic Art Endeavor
My friend Josh Row is currently on the fourth year of his Daily Deck project: a self-assigned task of designing a skate graphic a day for 365 consecutive days. At completion, he will have created 1,460 unique, individual graphics. I hit him up to see why in the hell he’s creating so much unnecessary work for himself. —Michael Sieben
Photo: Dharam Khalsa
What was the initial inspiration for the Daily Deck? Had you seen a similar design project that sparked the idea?
I had heard of folks doing a drawing a day type or people taking a photo a day. I really enjoy hyper productivity and being in a constant work flow and I love designing boards so the idea just seemed like a very natural direction. I hadn’t really seen anything like it either.
Was there ever a time during that first year, or since, that you felt like abandoning the project?
Many, many times. Some days are so full of crap you have to do and on top of that you still have to make this design that you aren’t gonna get paid for and will take anywhere from an hour to three hours of your time—that can make you want to beat your head on something and say, “Fuck it.” The first year was the hardest, for sure. Now I just wake up at an ungodly hour and knock it out before I do anything else. Lots of coffee is a must.
How many decks in total have you designed for this thing so far?
Have any of the designs become actual decks?
A few have! You used some for Roger, obviously. Wampum skate shop in NY has copped a few. A local company called Pugsly made one. And my friend who had a brand called Brown Boards used about five of them. Also, many of them have become No Comply shop decks, the shop I co-own in Austin, Texas. It really is the best when they actually become real-life decks. It reaffirms why I still do it.
What is your all-time favorite graphic?
Well, obviously the DTF Slay Anything graphic I did for Roger is number one.
Which one do you hate the most?
Honestly, I hate about 80 percent of the ones I designed the first year. It’s easy for me to have a favorite, but having a focused negativity about a single graphic is too much of a stretch. I will say I have come a long way since day one.
You’ve told me that you think people steal designs or concepts from your project. Who do you think is out there ripping off your shit?
Ha! I’m just kidding. I think there are design trends and frequencies out there that designers get on or tap into—especially in skate culture—and that can result in similar looking imagery. I highly doubt anyone is or would consciously rip me off. I mean, I rip off tons of crap. It’s part of the skateboarding graphic culture to reappropriate. I can’t hate.
Give me a percentage in terms of how many of these are phoned in.
In the first year I was in school full time and working, so I wanna say like 75 percent of them were just crap I made in, like, ten minutes. Year two was a bit better. Probably about 50/50. Year three was, like, 60/40 in favor of the more planned out graphics and this year I am feeling strong. It’s always like that in the beginning of the year, though. By the end I am just trying to get to the finish line without losing my legs.
How do you feel about people designing skate graphics that don’t skate. Is that wack? Does it matter?
It does kinda stick in my craw, but I can’t really think of an instance when that is the case, so whatever. A good design is a good design. Not trying to be too neg. these days.
Nollie pole jam for the House Park locs, low neg. factor Photo: Dharam Khalsa
What’s the best comment you’ve read about this project.
“Dude! That’s so f’ing rad! Do you mind if I steal this idea?”
And to follow that up, what’s the worst or meanest thing you’ve read about the Daily Deck?
I posted a link to a design thread on reddit and it just got bashed and trashed. I agreed with everything they were saying, though, and took it all constructively. I also put it on a skate thread called shreddit and it got lots of love, so it’s all really a matter of perspective.
What’s the end goal here? Are you trying to get work or are you just doing this to strengthen your design and illustration skills?
I think, for me, it’s really for the love of doing it and to become a stronger designer. It’s a lot like skateboarding in the sense that if you do something enough, and fall and get back up and keep doing it, eventually you won’t fall as much and you will make tight shit on the regular.
What would be your dream skate company to do graphics for?
If we are not limited by the space time continuum, H-Street circa Hokus Pokus. If we are limited, then Antihero or Baker would be pretty rad.
What are your three all-time favorite skate graphics?
Matt Hensley’s Sign Swinger, Jason Lee’s board with the beer, cigs, TV, Bible and gun in front of the flag, and Roger’s Ghost with a Boner. Classic.
Who is your favorite skate-graphic designer in the history of this whole thing?
Thats a tough one. There are so many greats. Marc McKee is a pretty hard hitter But Jacob Ovgren is Killing it. His work for Polar is so chill.
Have you gotten any feedback from illustrators or designers that you look up to?
I think Jeremy Fish said my stuff was okay one time.
You’ve carved out a little niche for yourself by doing graphics for No Comply skateshop in Austin, TX, which you’re a partner in, doing freelance design work and you also co-own a company called Show Goat Mural Works. So, basically, you’re always hustling. What’s your advice to the kids out there that want to someday do what you do, which is essentially not sit in an office 9-5?
Its a never-ending workday, but you are doing what you love to do and nothing can beat that. I had to stop drinking because I can’t afford to lose time being hung over. Also never listen to anything someone says that is not following their dream. They don’t know shit about you or what you want for your life. Also, don’t listen to broke people unless they are telling you what not to do. Put yourself through school but only if you have partied for ten years and are ready to get your shit together. Just keep getting back up from every fall and take every opportunity. You never know where it will lead and if it sucks—just quit. Yolo!
What’s the best and worst bit of advice you received when you were starting out as an artist?
Best: “Never stop working.” Worst: “Dude! You should work for Monster energy drinks.”
814 4 Life Photo: Dharam Khalsa
So I understand this is the last year for The Daily Deck. What’s next?
I don’t plan that far ahead.
To see more of Josh's designs, check out thedailydeck.com or his Instagram @danglife #thedailydeck
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