The Ripper is arguably the most iconic skateboard graphic in history. Vernon Courtlandt Johnson developed it in 1978 for Ray Rodriguez, Powell-Peralta's first pro skateboarder. Last month, Powell-Peralta hosted the Rip the Ripper Art Show in San Diego with 58 artists creating pieces. The pieces are all viewable online. Seen here, left to right: "Doughboy Ripper" by Lance Mountain, "Untitled" by Esao Andrews, "Obey Ripper" by Shepard Fairey. From George A. Powell's story on the exhibition page:
(The Ripper) was developed over a period of about six months, during which the basic concept of a skull breaking through a barrier evolved through a number of evolutions, each of which simplified and strengthened the basic image. It was purposely undertaken as a follow up to the tremendous success of Court's first graphic, the Skull and Sword, which had been drawn for our first pro skater, Ray Rodriguez, the year before.
When Court undertook the development of the Skull and Sword, he started with only a scribble on the back of a matchbook we received from Ray. It didn't really look like a skull and sword, but that's what Ray said it was, so we believed him, and Court set out to make it look a little more like one.
Skull and Sword was to be Court's first graphic and would require a conscious departure from his original fine line "0000 Rapidigraph crosshatch" style so we could silkscreen it. Since he was learning to use MC Escher's unique shading style and had to apply it to a skull, he asked if we could buy a skeleton to draw from, and so we did. Rosie, our medical supply skeleton, still resides in the Skate One Art Department thirty years later, but she is a little 'worn'…