Interview Lori Damiano Photo

Interview with Lori Damiano, Artist and Illustrator

June 29, 2021

Lori Damiano is an artist and illustrator based in Portland, Oregon, and she designed the Overboard series for Enjoi last year. We had the opportunity to talk about it with her and learn about her art, creating boards for Girl, Toy Machine, and being friends with pro skater Rick McCrank.
You recently did the Overboard series for Enjoi, how were you approached by Louie Barletta? I love watching Louie Barletta skate. After I saw his part in Man Down I decided to send him a care package as thanks for the energy and inspiration I get watching him having so much fun on a skateboard. I made him a handcrafted pinata in the shape of a tornado. I don’t know why that was what I decided to do. I sent it along with a thank you note in a huge cardboard box with drawings all over the outside. This was probably in 2003, I didn’t really expect to hear anything back because I was very aware that it was an unusual thank you gesture that might be confusing to receive from a total stranger. But it was fun to try and make a tornado pinata and I just really wanted to say thanks. Two or three months later a big envelope arrived in my mailbox from Louie. There was a hand knit scarf in there that Louie made for me (a total stranger)! It was such a magnificent response! I still have never met Louie. I don’t know if that tornado is why he asked me to do this board series? That exchange was almost twenty years ago. See! The skate family is everlasting.
What’s the story behind these board graphics?
The story behind these board graphics… hmm, each graphic has its own sort of lore in my mind. The series started though because of the painting of all those early 90’s hunks on skis. Then we followed the tender feelings that graphic evokes to build out the rest of the series.
Interview Lori Damiano Enjoi Graphics
When did you design your first skateboard deck?
I think it was around 1998. My first skateboard graphic was a Toy Machine deck for Brad Staba.
How did you get into skateboard graphics?
My career as an artist is fully a result of the people I met through skateboarding. I feel so lucky that the opportunities I have been connected with have largely come through connections and friendships from the skateboarding community. This network is still in full force even when the jobs I am getting nowadays aren’t skateboarding related. They can still usually be traced back to my extended skate family.
Interview Lori Damiano Quote 1
I’ve seen you are good friend with Rick McCrank, how did you meet him?
I was part of a crew of skateboarders who made zines and films called Villa Villa Cola and we went on a cross country road trip that stopped in Vancouver, Canada, in the late nineties. I think I met Rick on that trip skating at the White Rock skatepark. I’m not sure though! It was so long ago.
Did you start making board graphics for Girl because of him?
I was first invited to do a board series by Andy Jenkins, who was the Art Director at Girl. I had been pen-pals with Andy and was a fan of his art and writing. I don’t know though, maybe Rick McCrank had a part in too though. He is a very supportive friend and is always stealthily looking out for and doing things for other people.
Interview Lori Damiano Girl Toy Machine Graphics
You create animations, illustrations, murals, paintings, skateboard graphics… Do you have the same approach when making art on these different canvases?
I think the graphic identity of my work in these different mediums is pretty similar, but the time-based aspect of animation offers a whole other dimension to contemplate. It has a spatial/temporal element that draws on a kinetic energy that’s totally different, more like choreographing a dance. I also recently started learning how to do pictorial tapestry weaving which is very exciting because it forces me to approach image making in a totally new and unfamiliar way, relying more on a grid as a foundation.
Where do you find inspiration?
My main source of inspiration is my fellow humans and the natural world. I think us humans are endlessly fascinating and mysterious.
Do you use your art to convey a message?
I think more than conveying a specific message, I use drawing and painting as a way to try and maintain a lifetime commitment to better see and hear my fellow humans and maintain a fierce curiosity about them.
Interview Lori Damiano Quote 2
Skateboarding is very popular at the moment and a lot of non-skaters and artists who got no connection with skateboard brands use skateboards as a medium to do art and graphics, what do you think about this?
I think I probably used to have stronger feelings about this, but my perspective has shifted a lot during the pandemic and the racial justice protests of the last year, and I am filled with many other worries that have eclipsed this kind of worry. But to try and respond to your question, I think when people/companies who are not skateboarders try to piggyback on the culture of skateboarding for some kind of short-term financial gain or cultural capital, it will be seen for what it is by those who truly have skateboarding in their hearts.
Can we expect more skateboard graphics from you soon?
I hope so! I did design a Meow graphic for Amy Caron but it was right before the pandemic and I’m not sure if it’s still in the works or not.
Check out more of Lori Damiano’s work on her website and on Instagram.