The Phil Morgan Interview

by Mike

Phil Morgan has been a staple within the Cardiff scene since before I can remember. Phil worked in City Surf for a number of years, and was the OG CSC artist on the OG CSC site. He did quite a bit of work for Crayon Skateboards, and later Friend Ship Skateboards. His work's been featured in galleries in London, NYC, and LA alongside work from Jon Horner, Lucas Beaufort, Michael Hsiung and Ed Templeton. Oh yeah, and you might have seen the Toy Machine boards he did recently.

And because Phil is one of the raddest guys we decided to do an interview with him.

Hey Phil, when did you start skateboarding? Do you still skate?
I started skating when I was about eight years old. I've been skating on and off ever since. I still like to roll, but, I'm terrible at it these days. I spend more time eating concrete than landing tricks.

How did you get involved with designing skate graphics?
I started back in 2009 when I worked on graphics for my good friend Matthew Ryan's company, Crayon Skateboards. Matt released six boards of mine for Crayon before it folded after five years. I tried reaching out to lots of skate brands after that, with very little response. It was only till I contacted Tim Olson, who runs The Friendship Skateboards, that things started working out over that side of the pond. I've been working for Tim for a while now, and I've now released seven graphics for TFS. Tim rules.
Do you make a living out of working for skate companies?
I make a living out of selling my art or working for clients. Designing skate graphics is more of a hobby than a day job. I also work on a lot of the art stuff for CSC, and have done since the beginning.

So how did the job for Toy Machine come about?
It's funny how this all came about to be honest. Being a self employed artist, I was approached by a friend of the now defunct City Surf to work on a portrait of this ladies son for his 30th birthday a couple of years back. She mentioned that she wanted the art to represent all the things her son liked, including skateboarding, photography and drinking beer. So, I go to the drawing board and start sketching away and, half way through working on the artwork, I thought that it would be cool to turn my first idea into a little Ed Templeton watercolour. If you follow him on social media, you'll notice he's always down on Huntington beach Pier in Long Beach taking pictures. So when I finished the piece I sent it to him through Instagram. He then reposted the artwork on his page which was pretty insane at the time. I then contacted Ed to ask if he was looking for any artists to contribute work for Toy, not expecting to get a reply. I had a reply a day later from him saying that if I had any art ideas in mind, he would be happy to take a look. I wasn't holding my breath that anything was going to come from it, but, he liked the designs and a year later The Hand Puppet Series got the green light. Never in my wildest dreams when I first started designing skate graphics ten years ago, that I would be working on boards for Toy Machine. Life goal right there. Thanks again Mr. T.

Talk us through the process of how your initial sketches ended up being on a Toy deck? Was it your initial idea to do a series of decks?
I think I sent through the ' Skate Date ' idea as a sketch first, which Ed said he really liked. He takes a lot of pictures of couples walking along HB Pier holding skateboards, and hashtags skate date whenever he makes a post. Ive drawn a lot of hand gesture illustrations over the years, so, the ' Welcome To Hell ' idea was a no brainer. I think I came up with about five hand designs that could be potential graphics. I was simply giving Ed the option, like how I work with all clients, to give over as many ideas I can come up with. When we came to finally talking about releasing something, I thought it was just going to be the two, but, the ' Street Beers ' design got thrown into the mix also.

How involved were the guys in the states? Did you have to keep changing bits and then sending stuff back and forth until it got signed off?
It was just me and Ed I believe working on these ideas. I created the artwork in Photoshop but, the final graphics needed to be coloured and vectored for production. I was more than happy for Ed to do that. When he first sent the final designs through, there were things I wanted to change like fonts and stuff. Ed was happy to make changes.

What was It like working with Ed Templeton?
It was a bit surreal and awesome all at the same time. We never chatted over the phone to discuss anything. Just emails and Instamessaging each other, that sort of thing. We knocked a lot of ideas back and forth, and he actually chose the final colours so they fitted the Toy identity. It was really nice to actually meet him and his wife Deanna last month at the Deadbeat Club photo exhibition in London.

Who would win in a game of skate with you and Ed?
Haha! Ed could be blindfolded and skating on one leg and still beat me. I almost broke my arm just the other day from slamming hard going down a hill.

Favourite Toy Machine video?
I'm going to have to go with Welcome To Hell on this one, just because of all the heavy hitters like Jamie Thomas and Brian Anderson. It has such a diverse style of skating, including Ed's part, and the soundtrack is awesome. I think I watched that video so much back in the day, my player chewed the tape.

Do you keep up with the current skate news and happenings? Who's killing it right now? What video have you been rinsing or getting hyped on?
I do drop in from time to time on various skate sites most days. I also pick up a lot of information from social media with whats going on. I like a lot of the behind the scene stuff like the Epicly Later'd series. I've been watching the new series of King of The Road. I just watched the new Lakai video which just came out which is well worth a watch. I really want Tim Olson to work on a Friendship video. Those guys look they're having the most fun these days.

Who's artwork are you into at the moment? Who should we be looking out for?
There are so many people making good artwork these days, it's hard to name them all. Richey Beckett kills it every time with he's insane pen and ink stuff. State side, my good friend Michael Hsiung from LA and Travis Millard, who both have shirts coming out shortly for CSC. Craig Gleason, Lucas Beaufort, Phil Hackett, Pete Fowler, Ed Syder and Jon Horner. Adam Roth, Mike Guerrero, Austin England, Luke Pelletier. Sean Morris and Rob Jenkins from down under.

What are you working on right now?
Lots of stuff on the go at the minute. I'm working with a new beer company down in Swansea, sorting all the branding for the business. I'm also looking to be working with a liquor company based up in Scotland soon. No skateboard stuff right now, but, I recently did the artwork for Ryan Gallant's first pro board for the Friendship Skateboards. I seem to be working with a lot of food and drink clients these days. I'm always on the hustle for more work.

Any art shows or things we should know about happening over the summer that you're involved in?

I've been flat out over the last few months putting together my new solo art exhibition which has had a few set backs recently. I have a group exhibition opening over in Tenerife next month with my pal Phil Hackett in association with Staf Magazine. Another show with Phil then in Malaga in November. I'm also trying to put together a small tour with the guys at CSC to make some live art stuff at various independent skate shops up and down the country here in the UK. Any skate shops interested then get in touch.

Lastly, are you able to take commissions or requests for work? What's the best way to reach you?
I'm always looking too work with new clients on new projects. If anyone needs to get hold of me, then feel free to drop me an email. I may not respond right away, but, I try to answer every question someone might have. My website is currently under construction right now, but, I'm working on that as we speak. All my daily doodles and stuff I'm working on can be found on my Instagram page @pmillustration.

Phil's Toy Machine boards are available to buy online at CSC now. Click here to view them, click here to buy more of Phil's work.
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