Ed Syder’s illustrations are drawn from a love for skateboarding and his vested interests in the pop culture, music and film that captured him as a kid. So it makes sense that a film that featured skating first inspired him to get a board.
Originally from Truro in Cornwall, England he now lives in Sheffield where he creates his work and produces his skate zine called Secret Curb Club. He’s got a well-illustrated history working within the skate industry and beyond, with both British and US brands and has a clear admiration for the creative legends in both worlds that have inspired him to keep pushing his art.
So after we saw his work we had to make him a No Comply Network member.
Read our chat on what’s on Ed’s mind when he puts his pencil to paper, skating as a kid in Cornwall, the story behind his nickname Superdead and his logo for the brand of the same name, his thoughts on Ray Barbee’s skating and music, inspirations from Natas and The Gonz, his spell bounding skate alphabet, sketching standout designs for Corey Duffel, the lowdown on why he likes skating curbs, Secret Curb Club, his upcoming project with Jim Thiebaud, and his favourite skate videos, spots, photos, artists and much more.
I grew up in Truro in Cornwall, moved up north to Liverpool to go to art school, followed the wrong girl to Manchester where I stayed for 10 years. I met the right one and moved with her down to London for 5 years then we settled back up north again in Sheffield.
When did you first see skateboarding?
Like most people my age I saw Per Welinder skating as Marty McFly in Back To The Future and then later was in the bike shop in town with my family buying my older brother a bike and saw the skate decks on the wall behind the counter. I saw a white Mike McGill deck and that was it. I didn’t manage to persuade my folks to get me a proper setup so I got a sort of sub-Variflex complete for Christmas 1987.
Rad. So where did you go skate?
I rode around outside my house on that thing and it’s bubble tailbone and crumbly orange wheels all year. Some older kids at the end of our Cul-De-Sac had real skateboards like a Vision Psycho Stick and a Santa Cruz Jeff Grosso Board.
I started buying RAD Magazine from the corner shop so I started to understand how things worked. I sent off for all the shop catalogues and stickers.
Who was in your first skate crew?
For Christmas 1988 I got a Brand -X Sean Goff and went with my little brother who’d also started skating, to the old 70’s park in Holywell Bay. My friend at school said there was a ramp in a field at Mount Hawke, where my auntie lived, so we started going there.
I basically lived at Mt. Hawke from 1989-1992, skating all day surviving on a flask of orange squash and 2 Chomp bars per day.
How did you get into illustration and what did you draw?
I did posters for my friends in Manchester who did a monthly club night at Night & Day on Oldham Street. I gave myself the art name “Superdead”, everyone was giving themselves silly names back then. I’d get free beer and sometimes some money so that’s when I started doing it semi- seriously.
I drew women and skeletons mainly.
How did you develop your artistic style?
I just drew and drew everyday, I taught myself how to use photoshop in a very simple way, like how to scan something in and then hit the ‘posterize’ button. Only recently have I taught myself how to make my lines into vectors thanks to YouTube videos or whatever.
Where do you skate nowadays?
I skate the curb spot which is on the other side of Sheffield so I get the bus over there once or twice a week. More in the summer. That’s where the homies are so that’s more fun than going to the House where everyone is like 20 years younger than me.
During the first lockdown I waxed the shit out of the curbs at the pay and display car park at the top of my road. I’d go there everyday with my son on his scooter because there were no cars parked there for a good two months. We call that spot “Super Secret Curb Club”.
Cool. What is the key to making great art and skateboarding?
Actually going skating! Lots of your favourite “skate artists” don’t actually skate.
What do you like about creating black and white lined designs?
Well, I’m colour blind and when I started I was very poor so black pens and paper was all I could afford. The materials I use haven’t really changed much over the years, I use more expensive pens and paper nowadays though, when I started it was on printer paper from Asda.
Why do you like to use a select amount of colours in your art?
It just looks sharper to me, more effective with less colours.
You also run a zine called Secret Curb Club, what’s it all about?
I started going to the curb spot here in Sheffield just after my dad died in mid-2019. My friend Ben Cooney had been saying I should come over and skate the curbs and once I’d got back from the funeral in Cornwall I was like “OK, let’s go skating”. I loved skating there so much that I drew a sticker and then I made a photocopied zine that autumn. The zine is about the people who skate there, but I started including more stuff in issue 2.
Ben has done some art and photos for the zine but it’s all me.
I got some shirts made this year. I’ll get some new shirts out for the spring when it stops fucking raining.
What’s been your favourite part of creating the zine?
I’ve always made zines, I think I like everything about making them. I like a physical product, it’s not real to me if it’s a drawing done on an iPad.
What is it about Mark Gonzales that inspires you?
I put out a series of tribute zines the first of which was ‘The Natas & Gonz Book’.
Gonz is our Picasso. We’re lucky to have him.
What’s your favourite Natas Kaupas skate section?
Wheels Of Fire was one of the first videos I ever saw. The skateshop in Truro, called Essjays, would let you rent skate videos for the weekend and my dad would copy them for us at work. I had Rubbish Heap, Video Days, Not The New H-Street Video and Spirit Of The Blitz all on one VHS.
Best Natas stuff is when he’s doing those wall rides down the little alleyway or skating those curbs down on Venice beach. I’d throw myself off the curb cuts outside my house and try and grow my hair long at the front.
What kind of music are you into at the moment?
I’m into all sorts of stuff. Recent things I’ve dug are Thurston Moore, The Muffs, Ween, Prince box sets, Big Boys…. it’s an obsession that’s for sure.
Your a girl fan. What’s your favourite mid-90s Crailtap video?
I got Goldfish on tape when it came out and watched it a million times so I’ll say that one even though Paco and Mouse are better.
You designed the logo for Superdead Skateboards. What was your favourite thing about designing that graphic for them?
Harry just rang me up and asked if they could use that name for their company. I think he suggested the Superman logo so I just drew it for him.
Who was your favourite skater on Superdead and why?
Eddie Belvedere is very rad and he skates at Mount Hawke nowadays so I’ll pick him.
Your a Ray Barbee fan. What’s your favourite trick by Ray?
I’m still trying to complete the ‘Rubber Boys Flatland Challenge’ but that Ray Barbee Fakie Backside Boneless is a bitch.
What’s your favourite song by Ray Barbee?
Oh that whole “Meets the Mattson 2” LP is the best. I did a poster for them but the gig got cancelled.
You draw a lot of Powell-Peralta homage art. What is it about Powell-Peralta that inspires you to do that?
I’ve looked at VCJ’s graphics a little bit too much, can’t you tell?
Do you have a favourite Powell-Peralta skate video?
Public Domain fucking rules.
Who was your favourite skater on the Bones Brigade?
When I was little it was Tony Hawk, but later on it was Ray Barbee. Especially in Ban This. I always wanted that Bangles T-Shirt.
What has been your favourite commission by a skate brand?
Best thing was probably that wheel I did for OJ. Jason Arnold is really cool even though he supports Everton.
How can people commission you for work?
Just SLIDE into the DM’s, yo.
You did a competition winning Ramones style graphic for Corey Duffel when he was on Foundation. How’d that come about?
That was 17 years ago! I entered the contest and won a box of stuff.
I’ve stayed in touch with Corey Duffel since they reissued the deck and met up with him in maybe 2016 when he was over here. I’ve done a graphic for his new board company ‘Adored’.
Your skate alphabet is dope. How did you pick the images?
I started doing them without thinking about the difficult letters like X and Q.
It caused a lot of bitching when I didn’t choose the guy that so and so thought I should choose.
What’s your most recent work you have created?
I’ve drawn portraits of skateshop owners which I’m collecting in a zine that’ll be out in February.
Jim Thiebaud has helped me out with it because he’s the best dude.
Any upcoming projects you would like to announce?
I’ve done a board series for Lake Skateboards which should be out soon.