Jim Phillips, one of my personal heroes and creator of some of the most iconic logos/illustrations/artwork in the history of skateboarding, celebrated his 70th birthday today. Here’s what Jim had to say.
It has come to my attention that the 70th anniversary of my birth into this world has arrived. What a momentous occasion!…for me mainly… but ever since then I have worked hard to make my mark in art. In reflection of the culmination of my 67 years of graphic art, and 50 years as a professional graphic artist, I can only express deep satisfaction in the roads taken. There were more than a few blind alleys, wrong turns and endless highways on my travels, but the fact remains that the many fateful circumstances and the choices I made led me to the richest life possible for an artist such as myself, in a town as unlikely as Santa Cruz, in a fledgling industry as unlikely as skateboarding. My travels were aided and abetted by good and noble friends all along the way, and if there was a single bit of advice to young people starting out in life it would be to cultivate friends, which of course means navigating the good and bad influences that comes along with them. But if the available companions are fortunate enough to have such a locale, and enjoy such pursuits as surfing and skateboarding, it is certain that among them would be kings at heart, which is of course my experience.
My birthday is October 24th. In my early years that was the day they put the pumpkins out on the porch, a week before Halloween. So it is no wonder that my first drawings were of pumpkins, these scary symbols on my special day awakened my art. It was at a Halloween party where I asked Dolly to marry me, and we were blissfully joined in matrimony two days later. That was 1967, so a week and two days after my birthday we will celebrate our 47th Anniversary…working on the big golden 5-0. This might be a good time to mention Jimbo and the grandchildren! Cassidy is 16 now and has her own car, Colby is 12 and has already begun his graphic art career in surf and skate. Progeny and prodigy, Jimbo, 46, has carried on with the Phillips tradition in graphic art for surf and skate and making his father proud. The world is graphically set for the next few generations.
Above my desk I have what I call my “Heroes Wall,” where photos hang of five people who I consider heroes and who were instrumental to my life. All happen to be surfboard shop owners, but they are: Jack O’Neill, George Olson, Johnny Rice, Doug Haut, and Rich Novak. Two of these names are of the initials of NHS, Rich Novak and Doug Haut. They were two of my surfing idols, which to a gremmie means you learned by surfing like them. Rich Novak became a friend, co-worker and employer, as a fellow worker at O’Neill’s, a client for a logo job for Solar surfboards, co-owner of Olson surfboards, and eventually owner of NHS. In addition to being my life-long employer, Rich has the distinction of being by far the biggest patron of my art, and owns a massive collection of my original art works ranging throughout my career. They¹re hanging throughout the factory offices, which is quite fitting since they are next to the NHS/Santa Cruz Museum.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone at NHS for continuing to welcome me and embracing my art over the years. Especially to Rich Novak, for the many times and ways that he mentored, advised, promoted, influenced and entertained me, and for being the mainstay of provision to me and my family. Special mention must be made here of the late NHS co-founder Jay Shuirman as everything mentioned above. To Bob Denike, for enjoying my artand continuing NHS leadership upward and bringing Santa Cruz into the current world-class business that it is. Paul Merrell for the carefulconsideration of the matters of licensing my art and competent efforts he has made for me as liaison in the often confusing area between art and management. To Doug Haut and Wingnut Weaver for all things surfboards at Santa Cruz. To Tim Piumarta, an early advocate of my art at NHS, and a pillar of the development of Santa Cruz Skateboards. To Lucas Musgrave for carrying on and bringing strength, stability and longevity to the Santa Cruz art department in a rapidly changing world. To Mark Widmann for the amazing dedication, design and direction of the NHS/Santa Cruz Museum. Mark, I am truly humbled by your acknowledgement. To Dave Freil, who inspired me with his printing by using random colorways, and for his knowledge of everything and anything you need to know about Santa Cruz skateboards. To Jeff Kendall for his influence in my pumpkin art, and his consistent dedication and guidance at NHS. To Rich Latorraca for always offering a smile throughout the years. Holly Anderson has been very kind to me, she was willing to wear the vinyl Screaming Hand costume at Expo, very cool. Last but not least, my wife Dolly, dedicated and tireless employee bringing in the first graphic art MacIntosh computers to NHS, doing catalog layout, art studio typesetting and secretarial. There are too many others to name here, but who have worked, built, influenced and inspired the longest operating skateboard brand in history I’m very proud to have made my mark with that big red dot trademark, of Santa Cruz Skateboards.