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All decked out with art

Minneapolis-based skateboard artist Mark Rivard sketches his own skateboard during his visit to Bailey Elementary.1 / 3
One of Mark Rivard's skateboard decks portrays a portrait of horror director Alfred Hitchcock.2 / 3
Minneapolis-based skateboard artist Mark Rivard visited Bailey Elementary Friday, Jan. 6, to discuss skateboard art with the Art Club and help students design their own skateboard templates.3 / 3

A blank canvas is usually where most artists start, but a Twin Cities artist turns to something completely different - a skateboard deck.

Minneapolis-based skateboard artist Mark Rivard visited Bailey Elementary last Wednesday and Friday to teach members of the school's Art Club about skateboard art and even helped them sketch their own skateboard template.

"Inspiration is a huge thing for these kids - they need to be motivated and inspired and I see that in Mark," Bailey Elementary art teacher Jessica Frisco said. "I thought he would be a really great artist and inspiration."

In addition to visiting with the Art Club students, Rivard also helped Frisco's "fifth grade helpers" create their very own skateboards on Friday.

Frisco said she decided to bring Rivard into her classroom after he visited Tess Soucheray's art class at Liberty Ridge Elementary.

Additionally, Frisco said she thought a lot of her students would be able to relate to Rivard's style of art because a lot of her students like to doodle.

"I have a lot of doodlers," she said. "They just like to doodle and I always try to encourage that.

"I relate it to how Mark just started doodling on his skateboards - I thought that would be great inspiration for the kids."

From skateboarder to artist

Rivard, who has been a skateboard artist for the past eight years, said it was by chance that he even began his skateboard art, even though he had been drawing since he was in third grade.

Rivard was laid up in bed after having knee surgery due to a ski accident when he just happened to pick up an old skateboard.

"I just picked up an old skateboard randomly and started sketching a skyline on it," he said. "It wasn't anything I intended on doing or moving forward with - I sort of just stumbled into it."

It was after Rivard started his skateboard art that he learned of the history and culture associated with it.

For his skateboard art, Rivard primarily works with Sharpies - the marker brand for which he is a spokesman - and does everything from portraits to skylines to abstract.

"My inspiration changes daily," he said. "Just going out skateboarding around the city can be a huge inspiration."

Rivard said his favorite aspect of skateboard art is the freedom to create anything.

"It's different than your typical art world because it's a very free style," he said. "You can do whatever you like since there's not a lot of rules.

"The skateboard automatically takes your head out of that whole idea of a canvas."

To date, Rivard has created roughly 50 skateboard designs, which are then sold to manufacturers and distributors for replication and sale.

For his art, Rivard has traveled around the world to such places as Belgium, Saudi Arabia and all around the United States for various art shows and expositions.

Through his commercials, and talks with students, Rivard said he hopes to inspire them to do anything.

"It's about finding something that works for you and turning that passion into something that you focus in to," he said.

To view more of Mark Rivard's artwork, visit his website at:

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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