Featured! Matt Mercurio & Skatebird
If you’re a fan of skate culture, ride now, or grew up on a skateboard, you’re going to love the amazing jewelry and wall art created by this week’s ‘Featured!’ guest, Matt Mercurio from Skatebird in Portland, Oregon! When you see what this amazing artist does with skateboard decks that no longer move, you’ll start seeing the board in a whole new light!
Welcome Matt! Tell us a little bit about your ship and the work you do…
I make art out of recycled skateboards. Mostly wall art, accessories, jewelry, home decor, and many more things in the works . I also do custom orders!
This has to be some of the most unique and creative work we’ve ever seen. What got you started?
In 2009, a friend told me about Etsy, and after checking it out I found artists making hoop earrings and belt buckles out of skateboards. I thought I could use the same medium for wall art. I went to a shop in Portland called CalSkate and they hooked me up with piles of old broken boards.
I made a work space in a garage using an old crate and a tent made of trash bags and duct tape. I experimented by cutting the boards into random shapes using a jigsaw bought from a pawn shop. I used an old disk sander to smooth out the edges of each piece. The first shapes were birds, which helped me create my name Skatebird.
When I was a kid building launch ramps out of salvaged wood, we would launch high in the air, do tricks, and eventually come down wrong and break our boards. These pieces were then quickly hung on my side of the wall with pride and the gumption to break another would put me right back out there again. Now I focus that same passion into my art to assure an interesting long-lasting conversational piece every time!
If it’s not the scuffs, graphics and shapes I’m highlighting it’s the interior and top colors or the woodgrains and concave of the decks. There is a lot there to work with still… it only makes sense to recycle it somehow!
Nice! You’ve really taken an idea and run with it!
What challenges you’ve faced in presenting your art?
Luckily I started with Etsy.com so presenting my stuff was not too hard to figure out. My biggest challenge was to find the right tools. I had to switch from hand held to mounted tools, because the early work was time consuming and the early tools were limiting. You have to learn how to photograph as well. Etsy needs pictures, so editing and maintaining a constant online presence is also a challenge.
You’ve definitely figured it all out. Your shop is really great to look and at browse through, and your evolving inventory keeps us coming back for more!
You clearly put a lot into the work you do – so each piece has profound value all by itself.. what extras do people get when they own something you’ve created?
I think owning affordable, one-of-a-king art, jewelry, and accessories accentuates your style and highlights any space with a unique aesthetic. Each piece of a skateboard tells a little story about the owner and how much fun they had before it gets to you.
Well said! It’s like every piece you create has all kinds of history built right in to the deck piece.
Where do you sell your work right now?
My work can be found at The Brooklyn Museum, at various galleries and shows throughout the year, online through Etsy, and at my site www.Skatebirdshop.com. CalSkate in Portland and Mother Falcon and Death by Pop in Orlando, FL. also get various pieces of my work.
That’s a seriously impressive presence!
One of the things that caught our eyes about your jewelry was how couture it is but also how masculine it is. We could see women or men wearing our necklaces and getting some serious attention for it. Your wall art would also be the perfect compliment to any man cave or masculine space. As a male artist who creates work that guys can get into, why do you think it’s important for men to connect to handmade art?
Finding that piece that calls out to you and hanging it where you can see it and appreciate it enhances your daily mood. Men have always appreciated craftsmanship and art – and seem to love inventing tools and finding materials to work with.
What makes handmade items better than the mass-produced counterpart in your opinion?
Handmade art implies it’s touched by human hands, not made by a robot on an assembly line. I believe we must embrace these crafts and trades that have helped construct this country.
Why do think it’s important to support grass roots economies?
I live in Portland. That belief is in the water here!
Share one of your favorite quotes or sayings with us to send away with our readers…
I love the Picasso quote “Give me a gallery and I’ll fill it”. You have to just keep working. Keep trying to create something you love and that speaks to you. You will be surprised how many people out there would love to buy that thing.
Thank you so much for letting us learn more about you, your shop, your work, and your process!
Use the links below to connect with Matt & Skatebird online to see his ever-expanding collection or works.