Interview Petty Crimes Photo

Interview with Petty Crimes, artist and illustrator at Pizza Skateboards

June 14, 2021

Petty Crimes is an artist and illustrator at Pizza Skateboards, and he recently designed the first pro model of Vincent Milou, who just turned pro for Pizza. We had the opportunity to talk about it with him and learn how this board graphic was actually a happy accident, the inception of Pizza, making fun of other brands, and how LeBron James helped him to buy a house.
Where does your artist’s name Petty Crimes come from?
I had a Tumblr blog years and years ago, I don’t even know why I chose that name but that was the name I put on there, and then from there it just kind of became the name I used for anything I did on the internet. I kind of stuck with it that it’s to the point now where some people will call me that as my name, it’s so weird [laughs]. I don’t think I’ve ever put my real name on anything that I’ve done.
So how did you come up with the with the design of Vincent Milou’s board?
We were just trying to think of iconic French stuff to put on there. I did an Asterix board as well, it might be coming out next season or the season after. But for this one, I just thought about Tintin. Originally the graphic had Tintin in the background, all mad because Snowy stole his pizza. Apparently, Vince has a dog that looks a lot like Snowy, so that was kind of the connection here and we just went with the Snowy by itself and kept it really simple. I like simple graphics, a lot like the 90s graphics with sort of a simple cartoon and some type and that’s about it. A lot of my graphics tend to look like that, I like drawing cartoons and stuff.
Interview Petty Crimes Vincent Milou Pro Debut Deck
Tintin’s dog’s name is Snowy in English but it’s Milou in French, I was wondering if English-speaking people get the joke?
No, I didn’t realize at all, I just googled French cartoons or French comic books or whatever because I know comics used to be popular there, I don’t know if they still are. I used to read all the Asterix books and the Tintin books when I was a kid, so I’m pretty familiar with those.
It wasn’t on purpose?
No, not at all. Wait. So Milou means Snowy or Milou is the dog’s name?
Milou is the dog’s name but in French [laughs].
I had no idea, I had no clue [laughs]. That’s funny, I don’t know if Vincent even pointed that out to anybody either, so maybe the other guys don’t even know either. This is my first time hearing about it.
Interview Petty Crimes Photo Quote 1
When I first saw that graphics, it totally made sense, that’s really funny you didn’t even know about this!
Oh that’s hilarious, shit. Maybe I’ll have to do more in different scenes and stuff. That’s crazy, that’s funny. Happy accident!
So you’ve been designing boards for Pizza since the inception of the brand in 2014?
Well even before that, originally we were doing Lurk Hard for a few years and I was working in-house there. Geno [Failla], the guy who runs the company, was about to go off to China to work over there with some suppliers, some of the manufacturers of the clothes, and we had been talking about starting a board brand when he mentioned the name Pizza skateboards. So while he was in China, me and the sales guy at Lurk Hard came up with a bit of a concept and once he got back from China, we were like, “Alright, let’s do this”. We started out with just one logo board, the flag board that just said Pizza. There was a popsicle shape, there was an old school shape, and then there was a punk shape, with the pointy nose and the flat tail. I want to say we had those three shapes and we took it to Agenda and just started from there. Then it slowly grew over the next year or two to having a range of boards and having a team and that sort of thing. It took probably a year before we put that first promo out, that’s when it got real.
Interview Petty Crimes Pizza Skateboard Graphics 1
Were you involved in the art direction of the brand?
Yeah, when we first did mock-ups and everything, it was really pizza centric. It was drawing on a lot of the iconography and that sort of thing of let’s call it, pizza industry or restaurant industry. So there was a lot of graphics that were taken from pizza boxes, and even just the really simple Pizza logo was based on generic pizza shops here, they all kind of look the same. That’s why the logo itself is really simple, because it’s supposed to look like your shitty neighborhood pizza spot. There’s been a few pizza-centric graphics over the years, but now we’re sort of doing a bit of everything.
A lot of Pizza graphics are about mocking famous brands.
One of the early ones was a Girl board, that was one of my favorites from back in the beginning. I’m a bit older than the kids skating these days and so when I grew up, I was really stoked on a lot of the old graphics that brands like World industries and Blind were doing. They really started doing the logo flipped and taking the pop culture stuff and making it edgy. That was my influence growing up, and so we just wanted to take that fun vibe. Just being in the office itself, we’re always cracking jokes and making fun of everything, so it’s not supposed to be serious at all. Like in Vince’s first ad, he’s actually surfing in that, he’s not even skateboarding. We want it to be really fun and for people to laugh at the graphics and just have a good time. Because so many brands, especially the last few years with all of these new brands that are starting, they all take themselves so seriously, so it’s nice to just do something fun and dumb and silly.
Interview Petty Crimes Photo Quote 2
Did you get trouble with brands and copyright things?
Oh yeah! Some other skate brands getting pissy at us as well. I know Skate Mental got kind of pissed off at us for a graphic that we did. We’ve been trying to chill out on making anything too obvious of a rip, and trying to do a bit more original art. You don’t want to get stuck holding a couple hundred boards that you can’t sell, not a good position to be in for a small skateboard brand. It helps with the distributors as well because some of them are a bit uneasy about taking product that they might not be able to sell a month down the line if they get hit with a letter from a lawyer. But it’s not anything new in the industry, let alone anything new to us. I’ve also ran my own small dad hat brand for a while called Cigarette, and I want to say within the first six months, I got hit with three cease and desists.
You’ve been warned before then.
That’s why I’m kind of not too scared of it either because it’s just a letter from a lawyer you know. Usually by the time they find out about it, the products already sold out so you get away with it, that’s not too bad. But as Pizza’s getting bigger and more serious, you got to be a little more careful of those things because it has sort of a bigger public profile. It’s a bit easier for lawyers to stay on top of that thing and you don’t want to have them sending you a cease and desist before you’ve even had a chance to ship out all the boards.
Interview Petty Crimes Pizza Skateboard Graphics 2
Where do you find inspiration for mocking brands or doing original art?
A lot of it is just from being out in the world and seeing different things or watching tv or whatever. I’ll come up with ideas from just all kinds of places. I used to get some ideas from Instagram and social media but these days, the way they work, they don’t really show you the content that you want to see anymore, they’re just kind of pushing stuff that’s been paid for. So I don’t really find any inspiration on the internet anymore, it’s more just being out in the world or talking to friends. Some people will bring ideas to me as well. Richard [Hugues] who shoots and edits a lot of the videos, he makes some of the graphics and he’ll come to me with some ideas, and Geno as well who runs the company. So the three of us will come up with stuff, but generally I’ll accumulate different ideas and I’ll write them down in my notes app on my iPhone and then Geno will hit me up and be like, “Yo we need graphics for Pizza!”, so I’ll just go through my list and bust out a bunch of stuff and start banging stuff out.
What was your favorite graphic that you worked on?
That’s a good question, I like a lot of the new ones. The one that’s about to come out with the planet on it, that’s looking a bit sick, the little earth character. The girl who set the police car on fire and is roasting a marshmallow, that’s probably my favorite one that I’ve ever done. I really like the Ikea one of the rolling the joint. But definitely the burning cop car because I’m just not a fan of cops at all, so to make a skateboard that has a burning cop car on it was pretty fun. The “Kilroy” series as well, that was a fun one, I just got my iPad when I started drawing stuff like that. That was my first series of boards where they all had the same graphic theme but there will be another one coming in a couple of months, and they’re all sort of based around graffiti. We tend to do a lot of one-off graphics, it’d be cool to do more series boards for sure.
Interview Petty Crimes Photo Quote 3
You’re from Australia and you moved to California in the 2000s, did you get any idea of working in the skateboard industry?
No, that kind of happened almost by accident. I’ve been doing graffiti forever, I grew up skateboarding all through the 90s but during the 2000s, but I pretty much just worked regular corporate jobs. For a little while I was going to college here and I took a couple of design classes. Then around that time, Lurk Hard was sort of growing and getting more serious. Geno and I had been friends around the time he started doing that and then the sales guy basically said, “Look, we need somebody in-house to make graphics”. I was like, “Alright, f*** it, let’s give this a try”. So it was trial by fire, just sort of jumped in with not a lot of experience. I barely knew how to use Illustrator and Photoshop, I didn’t know anything about making tech packs, anything like that, so I learned all that stuff on the job.

When we started doing Pizza, Mike Pulizzi and Jesse Vieira were the main really good skaters that we had in the beginning, and so we were like, “We’ll make an ad, we’ll get it in Thrasher, we’ll put out a promo video and then we’ll be legit”. It sort of kicked off from there and just got bigger and bigger and bigger. Now they have an office and a warehouse, but I generally work at home and I’ll go into the office every now and then to work on stuff as a freelancer. It’s always good to get in there and just shoot the shit with them and draw some weird shit.
Interview Petty Crimes Pizza Skateboard Graphics 3
Do you have skate artists that you like the most, that you are the most inspired by?
Probably the older guys like Mark McKee and Sean Cliver, they’re the best ones to ever do it, so definitely those two guys for sure. Occasionally, I’d get the catalogs and stuff that the distributors would send to the skate shops and I remember having one with Birdhouse, Hookups and Flip. I had this one big catalog that had a bunch of boards in there and so I’d just stare at that all the time. I used to have a lot of the magazines as well, I probably had a pile that went up to my waist of skateboard magazines and graffiti magazines and rap magazines. So I kind of got a design education from just sitting in my room smoking weed and just studying them over and over and over again, getting to know every single page, and just wondering how things were made and looking at all the different styles of stuff. That’s where I learned a lot, it was just from absorbing all of that over the years.
So what’s the story with LeBron James?
Oh, that was a weird one. So I’d been doing the dad hats for a little while and there was this one company called Hat Club, it was a small chain of stores that sold hats. I want to say they’re like an offshoot of Lids. So that company did a test order for one of their stores in New York and they hit me up and bought a bunch of hats, and the Kermit one was in there. The story that I was told was that Channing Frye, who was one of the players for the Cavs at the time, went in and bought a bunch of hats. From what I understand, during the playoffs, a lot of the players will get each other gifts and apparently LeBron ended up with that one. He wore that hat where he’s getting off the plane in California during the series with the Warriors and when he was in the locker room when they’d won the NBA Finals. That was cool, I sold a lot of those hats enough to be able to buy myself a house.
Check out more of Petty Crimes’ work on his website and on Instagram.