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independent Since 1978

Since 1978: 40 Years of Ads From The Archives of Independent Truck Company

WORDS: Dave Swift

I fondly remember when I first saw an Independent Trucks ad in the pages of Skateboarder Magazine in 1978. I was becoming a full-on skate rat and looking at the latest magazines was the only way I could see the progress going on in skateboarding outside my small town of Poway, California. Ads were equally as important as the editorial in my opinion and it was easy to distinguish the good from the bad even in those days. From the get-go, that Rick Blackhart ad of him rolling in to a tile-less pool with the small inset product shot of the truck, things looked legit. Oh, and the “They’re #*X^!!! Hot!” text was so bold at the time as we all knew the censored word was “Fucking.” Not something you printed in the pages of a skate mag for kids in 1978.

So here we are 40 years later and Independent has been consistently putting out skateboard ads the whole time. That’s insane if you ask me. Or should I say, “#*X^!!! Hot?”

independent Since 1978

July 1979 Skateboarder

By July 1979 the design of Independent ads had become really consistent with a one-color background, skate photo, Bar-Cross logo on top left, round Maltese cross logo bottom right and list of truck sizes right under the featured skate photo. Micke Alba is featured in this one and I was down for Micke at the time because he was the same age as me. In this ad, he is doing an invert and wearing an OP vest jacket thing. Guess what I got for Xmas that year? Same exact vest.

independent Since 1978

December 1979 Skateboarder

By the end of 1979, all I wanted to learn on a skateboard was to do an aerial of some sort, and the Scott Foss backside air in this print ad was the greatest shot I’d seen up to that point in my skateboarding life. Everything about it screamed “This is Skateboarding” to me. Blue sky background, Orange Powell deck with griptape only where his feet were placed, Indy stickers on his Rector knee pads, and great style. Granted it would take me nearly two years to do a backside air above coping but once I did, I thought I looked just like Foss in this Independent ad.

 independent Since 1978

Paint Walls Not Trucks – August 1984 Thrasher

This ad was a shot at the two other big truck companies of the time—Tracker and Gullwing—because they were coming out with trucks in a variety of colors in 1984. Add that to the fact that Indy had nabbed a number of top riders (Christian Hosoi, Steve Caballero, John Gibson, and Rodney Mullen) from the Tracker camp, the truck wars (North vs. South) we’re heating up. Being from Southern California and a fan of all things skateboarding I might have been a bit confused by this fight. In the ’80s it seemed like everyone was a winner, but by the mid ’90s Independent left all the others in the dust. Oh, they did come out with anodized trucks in a wide assortment of colors just a few years after this ad. 

independent Since 1978

No Plastic Allowed – June 1989 Thrasher

In the 80s, girl skateboarders were very rare. Sure, girls hung around the parks and ramps but not many were riding a skateboard. Lori Rigsby was a skater girl from near where I lived, and she rode for Powell-Peralta, and had a mini ramp in her backyard. It was cool to see Independent give her an ad at that time—way ahead of the curve.

independent Since 1978

Team Ad – January 1991 Thrasher

This one is personal. I remember getting this issue of Thrasher and turning the page to this Independent ad. Just a page of Bar-Cross logos with the names of team riders. I had been put on the team in 1988 but the very next year I started working at TransWorld Skateboarding Magazine so I just figured they’d omit me from the ad. I was wrong and my name was on one of those sweet Bar-Cross logos. Proud moment.

independent Since 1978

Frank Hirata – November 1992 Thrasher

I’ve been shooting skate photos since 1989 and this shot of Frank Hirata doing a shifty off a curb cut in Oceanside is the only Independent ad in which one of my photographs has been used. Lots of good color in this photo and the tiny wheels and baggy ass pants scream 1992. Frank ripped.

independent Since 1978

Lance Mountain – June 1996 Thrasher

In 1996 vert skating wasn’t all that popular and the legends I looked up to from the ’80s were all deck company owners and semi-retired. Girl Skateboards had a vert ramp built at their building in Torrance, California—that is where this flying eggplant of Lance Mountain was shot. I’m told that Rick Howard shot the photo with Lance’s camera set up.

independent Since 1978

John Cardiel – December 1997 Thrasher

All you need to know about this ad is John Cardiel, boardslide, and kinked rail. So good. 

independent Since 1978

Mark “Monk” Hubbard – October 2000 Thrasher

I always thought it was rad that you didn’t have to be the most popular professional skateboarder to get an Independent ad. This ad of Mark “Monk” Hubbard in mid-ollie at the West Seattle Bowl (his backyard at the time) is one for the Lifers. Love and respect goes a long way.

independent Since 1978

Backbone – November 2002 Thrasher

For a lot of companies an ad such as this would be flipped right past. But because everyone who read Thrasher at the time knew that all Indy ads were on the left-hand page just inside the back cover we were programmed to pause there and take notice. Yes, a spine of trucks sculpture secured by a Maltese cross stand on a black background with the words “The Backbone of Skateboarding” was not overlooked.

independent Since 1978

Fausto – July 2006 Thrasher

A B&W photo of the Founder Fausto Vitello with the words “Fuck Off! “ in his writing, his signature, and a tiny red Maltese cross was his memorial ad. RIP Fausto Vitello. 

independent Since 1978

Evan Smith – April 2018 Thrasher

They are all good and everyone that rides a skateboard would give all they have to be in an Independent ad. That has been true for 40 years and probably won’t change in the next 40 years. I took notice of this Evan Smith front blunt transfer because I had recently been to the spot and recognized its gnar-ness. Proud Indy moment right there.

Independent Truck Company’s Since 1978: 40 Years of Ads is available now in The Canteen.

independent Since 1978

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