These skateboards aren’t for hat tricks.
Self-taught artist Rafael Colon has taken iconic, fine artworks off the walls and onto everyday wooden skateboards.
Usually taking four to five days (and “overdosing on coffee”) to complete each design, like Picasso’s “Guernica,” Van Gogh’s “The Starry Night,” and Hokusai’s “The Great Wave off Kanagawa,” Colon burns the image into the wood and then takes a paintbrush to it.
The art is completely Colon’s handiwork — he studies each artist and each design before delving into his pieces.
The result is surprising to people, Colon said.
“A lot of people are shocked because they said it couldn’t happen,” he said. “They said ‘You can’t do all these masters.’ But it’s all about practice and knowledge. The more you practice and the more you study, the better you become.”
The South Bronx native has painted Georges Seurat’s “Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte,” Michelangelo’s “The Last Judgment,” Gustav Klimt’s portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer and many others. Some are small enough to fit horizontally or vertically on the oblong boards, but others stretch across two or three boards.
Colon was already used to painting on denim, fabric and sneakers when he created his first skateboard five years ago at the request of his daughter. He even designed and hand-painted denim jackets for RuPaul, Stevie Nicks and Annika Marks.
His first board, which featured Frankenstein’s monster, sold in three weeks at a skate shop in the East Village, he said.
Since then, his boards have raised money for the Wounded Warrior Project and the World Childhood Foundation USA and have been shown in the East Village’s Art on A Gallery and at the Asia Society, where they’ve been hanging for two years.
Colon said he uses the skateboards to inspire and teach kids (and adults) about art and the masters. By using the boards as a canvas, it makes them more tangible, he said.
“It’s a great way of getting kids and adults alike interested in art history,” he said. “They say, ‘Oh wow, it’s a skateboard,’ and then that’s when you hit them with the knowledge with a quick five to 10 minute journey into art history.”
It also serves to inspire kids who grew up like him in the city’s housing in the South Bronx, which was a lot tougher in the 1980s and ’90s, he said.
“It doesn’t matter where you live, where you come from, what environment you’re in — if you have a goal you can get to it,” he said.
Testing his own theory, he started learning how to skateboard at age 41.
“If someone tells you you can’t do it, prove them wrong,” he said.
Almost 40 skateboards, priced at $600 each, and 30 watercolor paintings will be at his upcoming gallery show at Art on A Gallery, which opens on Mar. 15 at 7 p.m.