Phil Hackett grew up skateboarding. Even though he's largely left it behind - the board is still his muse, only now he's an in-demand illustrator who's dream is about to come true.
The highlight of Hackett's life in skateboarding was becoming a Welsh amateur champion back in 1999. He was young with a body full of confidence and a bag full of tricks. Time has moved on though, skateboarding has change. Despite his moderate success, time has pulled him away from the board. Fortunately, his work still features it as a strong motif.
It came from a place of idolatry. His older brother picked up a skateboard after watching Back to The Future - a common story of young kids back then I imagine. It was the younger Hackett brother's turn to follow him and likewise, picked up a board.
This tale, a suburban story of kids picking up a skateboard because it seems cool, is one that will ring true for many. Everyone tried it at one point, everyone collected bruises and snapped decks. Some kept at it, others never.
It's rare that over 20 years on, people are still consumed by skateboarding. We grow up, get into relationships and start working, not a conducive environment to become a professional skateboarder. Yet Hackett manages to make it out whenever time gives him the luxury. He's also ended up making a career out of skateboarding, just maybe not as he first imagined.
Post- youthful skateboarding, Hackett turned to illustration. Being involved in it from a young age tends to set people out on creative paths. You're immersed in art, film, fashion and design without even realising it. The impact on a young person is profound. You can go to a skateshop for a new deck and the trip has the same impact as an art gallery - only you won't get a punch at school for being the weird kid that visits museums.
Skateboading is meritocratic - the best (by ability or style) are the best, it's that simple. It doesn't matter where you're from. It's maybe this that has impacted Hackett's outlook. He makes a point of trying to make illustrations that are compatible with many cultures - that no matter what you see on a daily basis, you'll understand what he's saying. If you walk through a skateshop you'll see a lot of this - it is a universal language.
Hackett isn't just one of the pack though - his illustrations are clearly informed by skateboarding (and very regularly feature a skateboard as the subject). In the style of Chris Ware, they offer insights into everyday life. He manages to incorporate societal factors that transcend trends. Visual metaphors, or puns, form part of his visual language and add power to the piece.
It's safe to say his work could be described as satirical in nature. He doesn't veer away from tackling issues relating to international ideas and politics. His clients include GQ, The Guardian and Financial Times. It wasn't by chance that such esteemed publications feature his work - it's because they offer something. In his Guardian Weekend work, he tackles the mundanity of the office workplace and the longing it creates for escape, let alone the dreadful irony of rushing to make it on time.
For FT he muses about Japan's future, where their society will head in regards to future technology and historic ideals. His understanding of modern life is sharp. This also makes sense for a skateboarder. You're life is spent on the streets, navigating and observing. Life passes you by - fast. But you still manage to take it in. The ebb and flow of life around you only further solidifies your resolve to never become a part of that.
Hackett never has - he remains a skateboarder at heart. Observant, funny, eclectic and ready for a challenge. His dream of creating work for a major skateboarding company has recently come true, although he can't reveal who it's for until the project goes live. He's happy with his lot so far, but hopes for more of the same in the future. He takes what comes as it comes, whilst kicking along doing his thing. Hackett remains a skateboarder.
More like this:
Please, check your email.