Growing up in Southern California, Mike Kershnar distinctly remembers the very first time he saw a skateboard.
“I was in second grade,” says Kershnar, “and there was this kid skateboarding down the sidewalk and it seemed like he was flying. Not like a labored riding of a bicycle but literally gliding toward me. He showed me his board and the entire thing was a monster face. It was a Rob Roskopp drawn by Jim Phillips. It looked like the whole board itself was alive. And that is what pulled me in, even at that young age.”
Since that day, Kershnar has always connected art with skateboarding, an association that has seen him over the years create T-shirts and wall murals for Thrasher Magazine, skateboard graphics for companies such as Toy Machine, Baker, Element and other projects for Obey and Volcom. These current works were on exhibit at the Handplant Skateshop in Laguna Beach, California.
“My heroes are people like Ed Templeton and Mark Gonzales,” says Kershnar. “People who left in the morning to skate and had a film camera, markers in their pockets and stickers they made. There was no separation between art and skateboarding. It was all the same. The first time I walked into a skateboard shop I saw all those hand pulled, brightly colored silk screens and I was hooked.”
It was actually Templeton who gave Kershnar his first big break in the art and skateboarding world. Kershnar was asked to paint a mural at the Etnies Goofy vs. Regular skateboard competition. As it turns out, Templeton was painting right next to him. Later, the two met and Templeton asked Kershnar to create a series of graphics for his Toy Machine brand.
Kershnar has always had an affinity for the natural world. He feels that his work points people toward nature and to take in what it offers. However, while his paintings are of animals, it’s not the touchy-feely kind. Kershnar likes to depict what he calls the drama of nature; sometimes it favors the prey and sometimes the predator. His coyote has a small mouse hanging from its mouth. In another, an owl is shown with its prey.
“I always wanted to draw animals but I didn’t want to go for that softcore approach,” says Kershnar. “I wanted the drama, a bat catching a centipede, an osprey with a fish, a fox chasing a mouse. Real things that exist in nature. I believe there is a certain drama in nature that can enroll everyone to appreciate this kind of art.”
With all of his success in the world of skateboard graphics and such, Kershnar is now making the transition to fine art and his next goal is to take on the gallery world. “I would love to find a gallery to showcase my work,” says Kershnar. “I’ve done murals, graffiti, skateboard graphics, T-shirts, music posters. And now this is what I want to accomplish next.”