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Anti Hero

Anti Hero Skateboards

We at ConcreteWave Skateshop want to take the time to write our own little love letter to Anti Hero. As an independent skateboarder-run hardware skateboard store and online store, we've had a great working relationship with Antihero and have always been treated well. The designs and quality of the boards speak for themselves and consistently deliver bangers. Even when the trendy brands of the month come and go, Anti Hero has always remained steady and consistent. They really give back to skateboard stores and skateboarders and don't just talk about it. To this day, they don't sell their products directly to customers, they push them directly so that the core of the skate stores stays alive. That's how it should be with every brand to keep local skate stores alive! Thanks for that Antihero!

The team at Antihero skate everything, literally everything, and this is reflected in their deck output. You won't find any 7.5 toothpicks in their range, unless they start producing firewood to promote even more skate camping missions. The bottom graphic is printed on a painted background, while the eagle logo and shape code are branded on the top. Anti Hero Skateboards have collaborated with various other brands over the years, including the Crailtap family, celebrated in the Beauty and the Beast video series with girl/antihero collaborations from Hard and Softgoods, and more recently with the famous streetwear brand Supreme.

Julian Stranger & Anti Hero

To talk about Anti Hero Skateboards, we first need to talk about their elusive frontman Julien Stranger. Along with Natas and Gonz, he is one of the pioneers of street skateboarding as we know it today. Over the years, he has cemented his place in skateboarding history by riding for brands such as SMX, Underworld Element, Dogtown, Vans and Real. It's important to note that he's still skateboarding today, even though you may not see interviews with him and rarely see photos of him in the mags.

In 1994, Julien Stranger was riding for Real Skateboards when they offered him and John Cardiel the opportunity to set up their own company. In 1995, professional skater Julien Stranger founded Anti Hero Skateboards under the DLXSF umbrella. They founded the brand because they felt that skateboarding companies were a little stale and stagnant at the time. In an interview with Vice Magazine, Julien says that there was no brand concept and they just wanted to start the company to create a counterbalance to the boring other companies. They brought in famous skateboard artist Todd Francis, who was known for his edgy graphics at a time when many graphics were just logo boards, after the days of World Industries and crazy skateboard graphics.

Todd Francis & Anti Hero

Not long after Julien and John started the brand, they felt they needed a better artist to help them with the brand, so in 1996 they brought on Todd Francis. When Todd first started, he designed the now infamous Anti Hero pigeon graphic. Julien had the idea of drawing a little pigeon that looked like it had been beaten up by life and had a bucket of oil poured on its head. They chose a pigeon because it is so resilient and can survive in any city. It is also interesting to note that the pigeon logo has been copied and redesigned again and again over the years. Most famously, Jeff Staple pretty much copied the pigeon graphic and based his entire company on it. Interestingly, Todd also drew the Anti Hero Eagle logo, one of the most iconic logos in skateboarding. When he drew the eagle, it was so well received that it replaced the dove and became the main logo for Anti Hero Skateboards.

Todd Francis is originally from Venice, California. He grew up skating and doodling graphics on his friends' skateboards in the neighborhood. After graduating from art school in Santa Barbara, he got a job as a political cartoonist in San Francisco, and it wasn't long before he was hired at Deluxe Distribution. He says he got the job at DLXSF in part because he went to school with Natas Kaupas. At DLX, he worked his way up to become the head art director for Stereo Skateboards and Spiftire Wheels. In 1996, he was given responsibility for the art design of Anti Hero Skateboards. Over the years he has done work for companies such as Element, Anti Hero, Real, New Deal, Stereo, Spitfire, Oakley, Vans, Slap Magazine and Hustler (to name but a few). During a European tour with Element, someone stole the original Anti Hero eagle logo artwork.

Todd Francis was on tour with Don Pendleton and Matt Irving and says he remembers exactly what Pendleton asked him: "Are you sure you want to take that thing with you? It's like the Mona Lisa of skateboarding". At a very well-attended art exhibition in London, after a few hours of people having a drink, someone comes up to Francis and tells him that the eagle artwork has been stolen. One of the attendees says he thinks he knows who stole it and makes a few phone calls. Apparently the thief wants to return the artwork, but he is too scared and ashamed. A few hours later, the eagle is back on the wall and Francis shakes the thief's hand.

Jeff Grosso & Anti Hero

Jeff Grosso was born in Acadia, California, in 1968. He started skateboarding at the age of 5. By the time he was 14, he was sponsored by Vans and was a powerhouse in the skateboarding explosion of the 80s. He skated for Powell Peralta and had tricks in their Future Primitive video. He later moved to Santa Cruz, where he spent the majority of his career. In 1994 he got a Transworld cover, and in the mid 90's his pro career was derailed by substance abuse. Later in his career, he also rode for Black Label after maintaining a lifelong friendship with John Lucero. Lucero and Grosso had tension over the years due to Grosso's heavy drug use, which always bothered Lucero. In a Transworld interview, Grosso said that his drug use was so bad that he was recorded as DOA (dead on arrival) several times before he could be revived at the hospital. In 1997, Jeff Grosso began a journey to sobriety and managed to turn his life around and live a second life as a professional skateboarder. He came back and rode for Vans and Anti Hero. Anti Hero welcomed him to the team with an amazing first ad.

Grosso became the voice of skateboarding through his web series "Love Letters To Skateboarding", which was produced by Sixstair Productions and Vans. The series covers interesting topics from the history of skateboarding. Jeff was a humble and funny voice in skateboarding and never took himself too seriously. He said on many occasions that he "wasn't very good at being a professional skater". Sadly, Jeff Grosso passed away from a heart attack in early 2020. He is survived by his son Oliver Grosso, who receives the royalties for the Vans Jeff Grosso Sk8-Mid shoes.

MIckey Reyes & Anti Hero

Mickey Reyes looks back on a long professional career as a rider for Santa Cruz Skateboards. He later became team manager for all Deluxe brands, including Antihero, Krooked and Spitfire. Mikey claims to have punched every one of his team riders in the face, and said in an interview with Chris Neiratko for Vice that he had knives and loaded guns all over his house for a while. On a flight for an anti-hero trip, Tony Trujillo asks Mickey Reyes to sit in a different seat so he can lie down. He and Mickey get into a heated argument that escalates into a brawl. Mickey punched Tony several times in the face before the flight crew was able to break up the fight. A witness on the ground testified that he thought they were terrorists and that one of them had a shoe bomb. The plane had to make an emergency landing and both were taken to a Detroit jail cell. Mickey has mellowed a lot since then and recently opened a bar in Portland called the Cat's Paw Saloon. They even collaborated with Nike SB shoes a while back.

Over the years, the Anti Hero team has been made up of tough guys and gnarly skaters. Over the years the team has included Julian Stranger, John Cardiel, Frank Gerwer, Tony Trujillo, Peter Hewitt, Andy Roy, Chris Pfaner, Tony Miorana, Grant Taylor, Raney Beres, Robbie Russo, Daan Van Der Linden, Brian Anderson, Andrew Allen, Tim Upson, Brian Seber, Eric J, Bob Burnquist, Jeff Grosso (RIP), and many more. Of all the board brands, Anti Hero, along with Real Skateboards, has the most SOTYs of any brand. These include John Cardiel (1992), Brian Anderson (1999), Tony Trujillo (2002) and Grant Taylor (2011).

John Cardiel & Anti Hero

John Cardiel was born in San Jose, California, but spent most of his life in Half Moon Bay, California. In the 1980s, Cardiel sees a group of guys skating at a cornerstone and begins urging his mother to buy him a skateboard. Later that same year, his mom surprises him by hiding a brand new Santa Cruz board in his hamper. In 1990, after skating many contests in California, John began skating for Dogtown, Spitfire and Venture. Fun fact: John Cardiel was a professional skateboarder and professional snowboarder at times. In 2001, John Cardiel filmed his legendary role in Transworld's Sight Unseen with other icons such as Ray Barbee, Bob Burnquist and Jason Dill. This is the standout part of his career among his roles in all AntiHero videos. In 2004, Cardiel was traveling in Australia to shoot Anti Hero's Tent City video when he was hit by a trailer on the road. He woke up with no feeling in his legs, paralyzed from the waist down, and spent six months in the rehabilitation ward of an Australian hospital. He was told he would never walk again.

He returned to the US and in the years following the accident progressed from a wheelchair to a walker to a cane until he was finally able to stand on his own two feet. He later started riding a bike, and four years after the accident he had an ad for Anti Hero in which he rode a skateboard. He even has a trick at the beginning of the Vans Propeller video from 2015. Since the injury, he has focused a lot on cycling and music. He also started his own bike brand, Break Free Customs, where you can get a bike hand-built by Cardiel. Today, John Cardiel is sponsored by Vans, Anti Hero, Spitfire, Independent and Chrome Industries. He is also listed at number 11 on the Transworld Most Influential Skaters of all time, was a character in the EA Skate video games, was Thrasher Skater Of The Year in 1992 and was inducted into the Skateboarding Hall Of Fame in 2015.

Bob Burnquist & Anti Hero

Bob Burnquist was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1976. He learned to skateboard in a small skate park with an attached vertical ramp near his parents' house in Sao Paulo. Bob often skipped school and went to the skatepark instead. As a result, his parents took his skateboard away from him several times. In 1995, he emerged on the skate scene after winning the Slam City Jam contest in Vancouver, BC, Canada. He becomes famous for his mix of technical street style skateboarding and vert. Bob has also won the most medals in Summer X-Games history, with over 30 podium finishes. He currently lives outside of San Diego on a 12-acre farm with his own mega ramp in the backyard. The ramp has a height of 75 feet and goes over a 70 foot gap and then into a 20 foot quarter pipe. Fun Fact: Bob Burnquist has an Anti Hero eagle tattooed on his lower back.

Anti Hero Designs & Graphics

Controversial skateboard graphics: Over the years, Anti-Hero has become known for some crazy skateboard graphics. Some of their famous board graphics over the years include: Nature's Revenge Board: Julian Stranger Pro Model Anti Hero McJesus Board: a nod to the fast food industry, specifically targeting McDonald's. The printed slogan was "over fifty million dead". That was Julien's idea, he loves to attack big corporations. Richard Nixon: In 1996, Julien and Todd designed a graphic of Richard Nixon, who Julien always disliked. They printed it and the next day it was in the warehouse. When the Nixon decks showed up, Fausto and Eric Swensen were pissed off. Todd says he's not sure if it was because they were conservative or because they were afraid of being sued. The boards were never sold and were spotted again. This story is told in the book "Look Away the Art of Todd Francis".

The Nose Face Board: This professional model by Frank Gerwer received a quick cease-and-desist letter from NorthFace. The Eat Shit and Die Series: corporate logos for fast food chains featuring a dog ball burger and a taco with a dead rat, taking the piss out of some major fast food chains. Note: They previously did an even more blatant fast food series that never saw the light of day for obvious reasons. It featured a series of fast food logos as terrorists, rioters, CEOs and tramps. The Disgruntled Employee series: Francis notes that the only negative reaction to this series was due to Burnquist's graphics. The Forever Young series: which Todd used to make fun of old people The Monkey Suit series Antihero Powell Rip Off: This graphic got them in trouble with Powell Peralta. The Hitler On Ice Board: Todd Francis drew the graphic, but the team rider it was intended for turned it down because he was afraid they would be turned down by their other sponsors.

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