WORDS: Eric McHenry
Emmanuel Guzman is so gnarly. Period. Switch hill bombs, flying over street gaps, and just rolling in all the dirtiest ditches California can cough up. Guzman was born and raised in Santa Cruz and has naturally been riding for the home team, Santa Cruz Skateboards, for around 18 years. When his latest part for Santa Cruz, Right to Exist, came out, I remember him in the intro quickly showing off some art on the grip of some older decks in his garage—really symmetrical Native American looking stuff—and I thought it was badass! I always enjoy when a skater takes a personal touch with the setup and takes it one step further, giving it a little more artistic TLC to really represent what you’re about (not a cute collage of sponsor sticker bullshit).
When this season’s Santa Cruz catalog came out I once again was drawn to the vibrant symmetry of this new series, done by none other than… Emmanuel GOOZMAUN. I got the opportunity to reach out and ask a couple questions about the process and what drives him. The guy really rules.
Name and occupation, and where are you from?
Emmanuel Guzman, professional skateboarder, Santa Cruz CA.
So, stencil art—is this a new thing for you?
No, I’ve been making stenciled art from griptape for close to 20 years. I always enjoyed looking down at something custom and different than everybody else’s setup.
Are these the first graphics you’ve done?
I did a collaboration board with Santa Cruz and Independent some years back but it was a small run and don’t think many people know about it. This is the first actual pro model or series I’ve done, though. Beyond hyped on this bucket list check off!
_How’d you come up with this specific series? _
I had originally gotten inspired to do these patterns from Native American and Mexican art which kinda always seems like a natural fit and direction for me. It’s in my blood so it feels like it comes more naturally then other patterns. The protests at Standing Rock were also a big inspiration.
_Symmetry, I love it. What are some examples of symmetry occurring in nature? Alligator’s back? Human face? _
There are so many types of natural symmetry in nature. It’s endless! Living on the ocean all my life I’ve seen it many times in many ways. Take a flower for instance: so many of them are perfectly symmetrical; or a pine cone; or the scales on a snake. It’s not hard to find inspiration from nature for me. Ever.
What were some of your color references?
The color references were pretty random. when I first started experimenting it was based more on a color scale but as it transpired it became more random and focused on colors that popped well together. Color has never been my strong point so I’m open to try whatever usually.
What are some of your favorite board graphics of all time?
I love anything Gonz. But, of course, Santa Cruz and Creature have such a strong history in sick graphics. Some of my favorites have been the Claus Grabke graphics, The Bod Boyle Stain glass, The J Jessee Guadalupe, and some really neat new Creature ones by a guy named Kevin Walsh. There are so many good board graphics, past and present, it’s hard to say just a few.
_What’s the future hold for Emmanuel?
_Hopefully making more art and skating and raising my boy. There’s always something brewing in the skate world, though—that much will remain!
Guzman in Santa Cruz’s Right To Exist .
Favorite art-related youtube video?
Don’t know about a YouTube video per se, but Bob Ross always blew my mind with his paintings and cool demeanor. He’s a legend!