Good Day To Skateboards Lizzie Armanto Interview Birdhouse Skateboards Photo
Photo by Dana Trippe

Interview with Lizzie Armanto, Pro Skater for Birdhouse Skateboards

February 2, 2023

Lizzie Armanto turned pro for Birdhouse Skateboards in 2017. You may also know her from the Olympics, the Loop, or Vans with her signature shoe. But in this interview, we will be diving into her skateboard graphics and the process of it, her thoughts and her inspirations. We explore creativity through the eyes of one of the most influential skaters of the generation, not only for women’s skateboarding but for the skateboarding world.
How involved are you in the process of your skateboard graphics?
For most of my graphics I’m very involved, I do a lot of art directing. There’s only a couple where I’m not involved and those are usually the team series, maybe I’ll say one or two things about it.
Is Birdhouse very open about you designing anything?
I’m lucky that Birdhouse lets me do whatever I want.
How do you come up with ideas?
It depends on what I’m inspired by. A lot of times, I’ll see different artists on Instagram or Pinterest and doomscroll through graphics. I will see something and save it and put different ideas together or reach out to artists and see what their vibe is. Sometimes it’s not even actual graphics, it’ll be something very ordinary, something in real life.
Lizzie Armanto Interview Birdhouse Skateboards Graphics 1
Lizzie’s first pro board on the very left
Would you say you use your graphics to convey a message or is it purely aesthetic?
It depends on the graphic. There are definitely ones where there’s meaning behind it and there are other ones where it’s more of a feel-good graphic. Like I have a lot of butterflies going on, I think there are cool creatures.
Do you plan to design your own graphics?
Me doing the art, probably not, but as far as the art directing, I enjoy that!
Will we see more graphics with your dog on it in the future?
You will, there’s some coming out. I also got two kitties last year so I’m working on a graphic that includes all of my animals. It definitely feels silly but at the same time I love them all and I just don’t care and selfishly the world is gonna have to deal with my pets.
Lizzie Armanto Interview Birdhouse Skateboards Quote 1
I think it’s cool, it shows your personality.
Growing up when I first started going to the skate shop and looking at boards, I didn’t really pay attention to the sizes, I would be drawn to different graphics. Throughout the years, I have paid attention to different ones and seen graphics that spoke to me and a lot of the times, they’re ones that are personal.
Let’s talk about your first pro board, there’s an octopus in a teacup, what’s up with it?
So the artist that did that was an artist I saw in Santa Monica growing up. I really like their stuff and so I was really stoked that we got to reach out to them and work with them. When it came to picking a design, I wrote all my favorite things. My favorite animal is the octopus and I’m a big fan of boba tea and breakfast is my favorite meal, so it’s a mix of all those things. There’s even a flower on it, my love of plants is even thrown in there.
Lizzie Armanto Interview Birdhouse Skateboards The Loop
The Loop!
I was wondering if people at Birdhouse or even Tony Hawk asked you about things so they knew what to put on your first graphic?
I was fortunate in the sense that they showed me what they were going to do for my first graphic. When I first saw it, I was kind of shocked because it was so not my style and luckily we had enough time that we could work and do something. I helped with my first graphic, not everyone gets that opportunity, a lot of times you just get surprised with the graphic which in the end is also really cool. But even for me, I had the graphic but you never know when they’re gonna surprise you, it could be now or it could be next year, they could sit on those things for a while. I think as long as I was happy with the graphic, they didn’t mind what it is, and it’s crazy because that board doesn’t even say Birdhouse on it [some reeditions of the board graphic added it].
It’s very nice that you helped design your first pro board because it looks like some skaters don’t and are very surprised with what they have and may not be as excited by the actual graphic. So what’s it like to have your name on a board?
It’s pretty cool because I enjoy the process of working with artists to make these graphics. Going out and skating a board that I really like that much is more special and just adds to my day. But I didn’t realize when you get your own pro board how much responsibility it is, because it is a lot of pressure to come up with ideas and there are deadlines for when you have to have these graphics done by. A lot of times, you just want to focus on skating and I don’t really want to do homework but it does help when you do it.
Lizzie Armanto Interview Birdhouse Skateboards Quote 2
Do you keep all of your pro boards?
I do, I try to have a copy of each one. I make sure to keep all the ones that I’m really stoked on.
Do you know how many?
I don’t know how many off the top of my head. I want to say that there’s from four to six put out every year, but sometimes there’s more. I personally work on less than a handful of them and there’s also the team boards which I don’t work on, so it’s hard for me to keep count.
A favorite one?
I don’t know, it always changes. I have maybe a top five but as for a favorite one, it’s really hard.
Lizzie Armanto Interview Birdhouse Skateboards Graphics 2
Not even your first pro board?
I mean, I really like my first board but I will say it’s always fun to work on the latest graphics because it’s current in your life. You make it and then you make a new graphic and you’re really excited about that and then eventually the graphic comes out. You have a different appreciation for it when you’re excited about it again. I don’t know, it’s kind of forwards backwards forwards backwards!
Are you interested in skateboard graphics in general, the history of it?
I’m open to learning about it for sure! I don’t follow it that closely, I know certain artists, I’m familiar with board companies like Toy Machine and Ed Templeton graphics obviously [Lizzie’s husband, Axel Cruysberghs, is pro for Toy Machine].
Lizzie Armanto Interview Birdhouse Skateboards Quote 3
In an interview, you said your favorite board graphic was an Element Tosh Townend board. I tried to find it from what you described, is it this one? [Showing her the photo of the board graphic – You can see it scrolling down]
Yeah, that was my first board ever!
What’s the story behind it?
Before I had that board, I had a toy store board and it was so trash, the quality was terrible. Then when I got to go to the store and pick out a board, I saw that board but I wasn’t able to get it. So when I went back, the board was already sold and luckily I found it online and my mom purchased it, it was a challenge to get it. I really liked the color palette obviously, a lot of blues and greens. I still love it today, it was a cool pattern with the symmetry and there’s a bunny on there and some plants and maybe a bird too. Just a lot of those things resonated with me at that time and they still do, I guess I haven’t changed that much.
Would you show this graphic to the designers at Birdhouse and say: “Hey, let’s do something that’s similar for my next graphic”?
I haven’t thought about it but that’s actually a really good idea!
Lizzie Armanto Interview Birdhouse Skateboards Tailslide Nosegrab
So last year, your first signature shoe was released with Vans. What is the best: having a pro board or a pro shoe?
Not everyone’s fortunate enough to get a pro shoe so that definitely felt so much bigger. It’s one of those things that when each one happens to you, it’s the biggest thing that’s ever happened to you and the shoe for me was really big. I felt really fortunate that I got to have that opportunity and Vans really listened to me when it came to designing it. I feel like they went out of their comfort zone, they really pushed it compared to the other shoes they’ve done and so that felt really good. Even for women skating, it’s been a long time since there was a women’s shoe and so for Vans to give me that opportunity, it wasn’t just a small statement, it was a big thing.
Was there pressure knowing only a few women have a pro shoe?
When it came to designing it, I knew what I wanted. I really looked at the Vans silhouettes and how I could work on those. I did feel out other shoes to see if there was anything I liked about them. I’m proud of what we were able to make and my shoe is my favorite skate shoe.
Lizzie Armanto Interview Birdhouse Skateboards Quote 4
I’m a big fan of video games and you’re featured in the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series, most recently in the 1+2 remaster which was a huge success. How was the experience being in the video game?
It is crazy! They scan your body and you do all these different processes in the studio. You go into a sphere of cameras and lights, and they shoot you from every angle, there’s one where it’s just for your head and there’s another one where it’s for your body. It’s really intense because they’ll go through different settings and so there’ll be hundreds of cameras and flashes going off at once. Then seeing the process of them digitizing you, get to see along the way and eventually it just comes out. The impact of it is always hard to believe. So many people play the games and get interested in skating through playing it.
What was the most impactful thing in your career so far, being at the Olympics, becoming a pro skater, releasing a pro shoe or being in a video game?
Hold on, let me think about it, that’s a really good question because in different ways they’re each big. I would say the Olympics are very impactful but I think we’re gonna see the impact of that down the line. The shoe is really big, women and men being empowered to find products that they like. For me, it’s changed so much getting a shoe, I feel like there’s more opportunities, not just for me but for other people. And the video game is like the cherry on top, that’s really cool. It’s probably the most exclusive out of all those things. You have to be lucky in that sense, I’m really fortunate being a part of Birdhouse and knowing Tony [Hawk] and obviously I’ve worked for all of it but I’m really fortunate that he gave me that opportunity.
Lizzie Armanto Interview Birdhouse Skateboards Graphics 3
Element Tosh Townend board graphic on the very left
So here’s the difficult question, who has the best skateboard graphics, you or Axel Cruysberghs?
Selfishly I ride my boards and I put a lot of time into them so I think my graphics are better but I will say every so often there is an Axel graphic that is really good. Like a few years ago, we were surfing a lot and Ed [Templeton] did a surfing sect and it had Axel’s name in the waves, it was a really cool one, Ed’s so talented.
Thank you for the interview!
Of course, I was actually very excited to do this interview because I’m really attached to my graphics, and I put a lot of time into them and I want to share more about them. I’m going to make a point of sharing more about a handful of my favorite graphics online.
Check out more of Lizzie Armanto’s skating on instagram.