Graphic design major, Mark Johnston, wins skateboard design competition

When senior graphic design major Mark Johnston transferred to APU he never imagined himself studying graphic design or winning first place in a skateboard design competition. Johnston never even considered graphic design as a career.

In high school, Johnston  took a graphic design class and was only interested in graphic design as it related to music.

“I would do album covers and make posters for my favorite bands. They were really terrible designs, but it was something I really enjoyed for the first time. It seemed more natural,” Johnston said.

Although Johnston enjoyed graphic design, he never thought of making a career out of the subject until after his stay at Arizona State University. Entering into ASU, Johnston was undeclared. He took a graphic design history class and considered several different studies and routes, but could not decide on anything until he became a graphic design major.

“I thought about doing industrial design. I thought about being a teacher at one point, doing elementary education. But all of that was kind of boring and wasn’t what I wanted to do at all, so I gave graphic design a chance,” Johnston said.

After transferring into APU’s Department of Art and Design, Johnston has been very successful in his studies as a graphic design major. On Thursday, Nov. 8 the Department of Art and Design in partnership with Utility Board Shop, located in West Covina, held a skateboard design competition.

After signing up for the competition, competitors had to purchase a blank board from Utility Board Shop that was offered at a discount price. Then the competitors had to design the bottom picture for that board using Utility’s logo in a creative way. The competition was not only open to graphic design students, but also faculty members and alumni.

A total of 55 people entered the competition with only three being able to win the top three spots. Different prizes were handed out for categories, such as most artistic and best use of the Utility logo. There were three top winners with Johnston landing first place and winning the opportunity to design a series of three boards for Utility.

Johnston’s series include his winning design, a panda holding a gun with a ski mask over its head and a gold chain holding the Utility logo. As well as several other animals dressed in similar styles, like a giraffe holding a knife in its teeth. Three of his designs are to be featured in Johnston’s upcoming series at Utility Board shop, although winning the competition was not the most important thing to Johnston.

“I have the designs in my portfolio, which is the most important thing,” Johnston said.

Johnston enjoys working with skateboards, as there are more artistic freedoms and more room for error.

“Skateboards are a funny thing because they are destroyed so easily. It’s something that doesn’t need to be as well-designed as an advertisement,” Johnston said.

This semester Johnston has held a position as an intern for The Berrics, a private, professional, indoor skate park located in downtown L.A. The Berrics is owned by Steve Berra and Eric Koston who also produce films and content related to skating as well as clothes and items. Johnston makes graphics for their website among other duties. Johnston plans to keep working in the skateboard industry in L.A.

“I want to get involved in the skateboard industry, which this competition was perfect for that. It’s something I’ve always had an interest in and it would be fun to do something I like. It would motivate me to work harder,” Johnston said.

Some of his favorite skateboard artists include Mark Gonzales who launched Krooked Skateboards, as well as Christ Pastras who designs skateboards for Stereo Skateboards and Ed Templeton who designs skateboards for Toy Machine.