Memory Screened | Karl Watson
For the former Embarcadero resident spitball champ, Karl Watson’s mugshot on Think’s “Missing Children” deck, where he was featured alongside fellow ams Nick Lockman, Sam Smyth and Shawn Mandoli, was far from being his last appearance under a skateboard. With a 15-year-long pro career on the likes of Clean, Profile, Mad Circle, Expedition and Organika, skateboarding’s smiliest and styliest has gone through his fair share of companies. Let’s check out what he pulled out of his Prius trunk as his favorite picks.
1. Clean Sketch board (1994)
I had about three pro models on Clean. This guy, Kyle, started the company with his parents’ money. He was a nice guy. It was me, Jonas Wray, and I forget who else, but they took me to Europe for the first time. We went to England and Germany. The graphics were done by this guy from Colorado. He had this sketchbook and this one looked good so I was like, “Hey, I wanna use this one.” I liked how intricate it was, how it was almost four dimensional. It had no meaning. That came later on with my board graphics.
2. Mad Circle Egyptian Cat (1997)
At the time, I was really into Egypt and I was also into cats. I was raising cats. I have four of them right now, and in Egypt they liked cats. They even mummified them.
To be honest, it sounds pretty dumb, but at first I didn’t realize that Egypt was in Africa. I thought it was in the Middle East. When I figured this out, it became way more interesting to me because I had wanted to find out more about my real culture. Not just African-American, more so where I really came from. Even though we all are one, I wanted to know where my gene pool came from. I liked how the Egyptian civilization was so advanced and so mysterious. I had a few boards with an Egyptian influence. I had one on Profile; Kent from FTC has one of these. I should have got that one from him too. He bought it off eBay for a couple hundred dollars.
3. Mad Circle Dreads (1998)
I’m really into the universe and how interconnected we are with it and I really wanted to show somebody with locks—not me, but a person with dreadlocks. And the dreadlocks would be roots going into the earth; the hand was connecting to the sun, the moon, and stars. So we’re all connected to the world around us.
I got aware of all this from reading books and from wanting to know more about life. Around that time, I was reading The Celestine Prophecy, The Prophet, The Way of the Peaceful Warrior, these kind of books. It just came from my own curiosity. I was definitely a wild kid, but my mother was always into meditating so I got exposed to all this at a young age even though I didn’t respect it then.
Working with Jesse McMillan was the best opportunity, man. I could tell him anything. I didn’t have to worry how it would turn out. I never usually ride my own boards, but this one was one of the first ones I did skate. It was one of my best-selling boards, but I have no idea how many sold. Maybe 800 boards for three months? That was a lot then.
4. Expedition Robocop (2000)
After Mad Circle went under, I was sponsorless for about a year and a half. Out of nowhere, I saw the first Expedition ad in a magazine and I just called them. I talked to the owner personally, then I was on a trial basis for six months, filming a part for the video. I guess they liked my footage and put me on the team. I liked the company’s diversity; I liked that Chany was on there. I liked that they had people from different countries like Stphane Laurance. I loved that.
This was probably my third board on Expedition; it was part of a series. That was me as a Robocop. It’s definitely one of my favorite graphics because it looks like me but it doesn’t look like me. I think he captured my eyes; they look exactly the same even though one eye you can’t see. Plus it has the Innerlock Technology. People weren’t ready for it. We’re gonna bring it back soon. It was probably the best technology invented for skateboarding.
5. Organika Wildlife (2009)
We started Organika in 2001. It’s half mine and half my boss’s who owns Expedition as well. The way that came about is that I got an offer from another sponsor to be paid three times as much. I turned it down and he was like, “Hey, man, I respect that. We’re gonna give you a wheel company.” Some time passed and he was like, “Forget it, you can do a board company.” He did come up with the name. I was thinking of using Altered, like, “altered state of mind.”
I really liked that name because I didn’t want to push my lifestyle on people. I didn’t wanna portray too much the organic thing ’cause it was putting more pressure on me to be exactly like that at all times, even if I am like that, but you know what I’m saying? But these dudes are smart people and they saw the vision and it worked out. I put a lot of trust in him, and he’s never failed me. I love the colors on this board. It has to be one of my favorite Organika graphics so far.
I like anything with animals on it.