KAREN RUTTER spoke to designer Pete Reynolds about ADVENTURE TIME, an offbeat animated show on Cartoon Network, which has developed a cult following among the young and adults.
The show’s eye-popping visuals, imaginative storytelling and crazy humour has spawned thousands of fans. Adventure Time centres on Finn, an ever-courageous hero in the throes of adolescence, and his best friend, Jake, an elasticised, shape-shifting dog, as they traverse the Land of Ooo in search of adventures.
Now, in a partnership between Cartoon Network, Revolution Africa and Verb skateboards, a limited range of skateboard decks inspired by Adventure Time has been designed and is available in South Africa.
Can you tell us about the Cartoon Network, Adventure Time and Revolution/Verb partnership? How did it happen?
This range of skateboards is the product of a collaboration between Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time and Verb Skateboards. Revolution Africa, a licensing company, approached us to see what we would think of doing a range of skateboard graphics for the launch of the current season of Adventure Time (as seen on Cartoon Network, DSTV channel 301). Being a huge fan of Adventure Time ourselves, of course we agreed to take on the project. Series creator Pendleton Ward is a genius. We’re pretty happy with them, and are hoping that other people will be too. It was a really fun project to work on, and we feel really stoked to have been given the opportunity.
So you were a fan of Adventure Time before you even got involved with this project?
Heck yes. I’ve seen every (official) episode.
What is it you like about the animated series?
What’s not to like? A kid and his dog taking on the world and having adventures – what a cool concept. I also like the really dark elements they mix into it. Sometimes I wonder exactly who their target audience is, ha ha.
So how did this series influence your designs – what did you choose to focus on?
Well, knowing the characters and how they speak and behave definitely influenced the designs, for example the tight relationship between Finn and Jake. There are more designs coming out soon where I’ve highlighted the relationships of some of the other characters (along with some apparel). The bright colours and the general feel of the show were also things I tried to use and capture. I love that the characters’ colours are so recognisable that I could turn them into flat shapes within the shape of a skateboard deck, and you would still know who the characters are.
Was it fun doing this, and did you have quite a bit of freedom in the creative process?
It was super fun working on them. I realise how lucky I am, getting to work on designs like this versus moving around prices for chain store catalogues, like some of my friends do. I had quite a lot of freedom, but obviously had to stick to colour values, character size relationships etc, which actually made things easier.
You are obviously a skateboarder – where is your best place to skate?
I love just skating a street spot, or mini ramp with a few friends. As I’ve got older I’ve just got worse at skating, ha ha. So whatever is mellow and fun I’m down for.
How did you get into doing skateboard design?
I work as a kind of creative jack-of-all-trades for Revolution Skateboard Supply Co. (Verb is one of our brands, along with KFD and Killer Speed Co), and so it is part of my job. I’ve always wanted to design a skateboard deck, so I know that my 15-year-old self would high-five me right now for doing a whole range.
Who/what inspires you?
Nature and animals mostly, but also music, ideas, and I have a few friends and artists I like in whom I find a constant source of inspiration.
What other sorts of designs have you worked on?
I am a web developer by trade, but studied multimedia design, so I have worked on everything from Wordpress blogs, to e-commerce stores (like www.revolutiononline.co.za) to poster designs to logos. I also get quite diverse projects to work on through freelance.
From a practical side: are all these Adventure Time/Verb designs on boards that are the same length/design (swallow-tail, pin-tail etc)? Or are they different. What are the specs?
No, they’re all pretty different, but sized according to what most skaters are using now, so all around 8 inches wide and about 32 inches long, with medium concave, ranging between 7.75 to 8.25 inches wide. They’re made from 7-ply hard rock Canadian maple. We tried to make them practical for skaters, as well as novel for people who might just want to put them up on their wall.
How can people buy these?
They’re available for pre-order from www.revolutiononline.co.za, but from the end of October or early November, people will be able to buy them from Revolution and other skate stores nationwide.
l Adventure Time screens on Cartoon Network, DStv channel 301 from Monday to Friday at 4.35pm. It is repeated Monday to Friday at 7am and again on Saturdays and Sundays at 8.20am and noon. The series ends on October 30.