USS – The Killing Floor. For the skaters that don’t know and you had to pick a song or music artist that would encapsulate what your company would be which one would you pick?
John -Hmm, damn that’s a tough question. I think it would be the lost tapes from an unknown studio session with Bob Dylan, Pharaoh Sanders, and Gil Scott Heron. That sounds about right. That should have happened actually.
USS – I’m haven’t been exposed to too much Jimi Hendrix, but I think the name of the company is a reference to one of his songs. How did that happen? Was it hard picking a name for your company? And why did you decide to start a company?
John – It’s the name of an old Howlin’ Wolf song. Skip James also had a song called “hard time killing floor blues” but I named it after Wolf’s Killing Floor. And yes it was hard, at least for me. Back in 2010 when I started, There weren’t many multiple word name brands, seemed like most were one word, something catchy or whatever. I sort of liked the idea of doing a name with 3 words. It felt sort of suicidal in a way like people would definitely get annoyed by it. I think I liked that idea, which is kind of stupid actually. I actually decided to start a company because I was personally really bored at the time with most of the brands that were seeming to be everywhere. I had just had a skateshop for like 6 years and was burned out on skateboarding, but at the same time needed skateboarding. I thought it would be fun to do something totally different, whether it caught on or not. It just seemed like something I should try.
USS – We first came across TFK when I saw a Lee Scratch Perry graphic at a local shop and it was your company. I was instantly attracted to the design but possibly it was the fact that a company would choose a more obscure artist. How do you choose the musical artist you want to put on a graphic like Miles Davis or Neil Young?
John – I guess Miles and Neil aren’t actually very obscure, but they are two of my biggest personal inspirations on a whole. Neil is my spirit animal, and Miles makes me think about anything I’m doing a little differently, so they both felt like they deserved to show their faces a little more in Skateboard culture if I had the say in the matter. Funny Supreme has done things with both of them as well, they have a tower of money to do legit collabs, but I just go for it most of the time, then plug my ears and cover my eyes and kind of wait of a C&D letter in the mail. Haven’t gotten one yet. Haha. I think I just like to do graphics or concepts based on stuff that I’m getting inspired by in that moment when I’m putting new stuff together. That’s mostly how it comes together…
USS – So you are obviously influenced by Music and Art. What is yer background in art?
John – I didn’t go to college, but I took some classes in NYC at SVA. I think that experience helped get me to where I’m at now. Other than that, I’m totally self taught, graphic design as well as painting and all other more fine art aspects. I’m in the process right now of working on several paintings again, which I haven’t really done in several years and it feels awesome. I think it is helping me problem solve with the future graphic stuff I’m working on too.
USS – You have a very specific way of putting colors together for a graphic. Are colors used to evoke a certain feeling or emotion?
John – I’m not sure if I consciously go into making a graphic with that in mind necessarily, but at the same time I do think I’m very aware of color, texture, and layout. Its like a sickness for me. I really have a certain way I want to come across in my stuff I guess. And even that is always evolving too.
USS – We have also have kicked around ideas on what some of yer graphics mean. Because I felt that is was like listening to a Bad Religion song and trying to break down Brett Gurewitz lyrics. There is more of cryptic meaning behind some of the graphics. Can you talk about that a bit?
John – Yeah, I think I try to work with concept that not everyone will get, but that’s stuff I think I’d like to feel as if I helped more people become aware of. Like the Haarp graphic. I think 75% of shops that order it, just think it looks cool, but Haarp is some really serious creepy shit happening in our country that needs to be common knowledge. The extent to which it very well may have impacted things we all see as “recent natural disasters” could be alarming. Gotta wake up whoever I can I guess. That just feels like something I should try to do.
USS – How is it running an independent skateboard company?
John – Ha. It sucks and it’s the best.
USS – How much has it evolved from its birth?
John – Tenfold. Its grown tremendously. We now sell to like 13 or 14 different regions of the world. The chance that I could go to any other country on a trip and end up possibly seeing my boards on the wall in a local shop is half decent now, which blows me fucking away!
USS – Where do you see the company going?
John – To the moon. I just want to keep trying to stay one step ahead of whatever is generally happening in some way. Maybe not in every way, but at least in some way.
John – Thanks for all the support Kasper, I knew the moment I walked into your shop we would end up having a good relationship! Keep fighting the good fight brother.
Click Here for “The Killing Floor” website.