Artist & Designer Ted Cocuzza

    Artist & Designer Ted Cocuzza

    Ted Cocuzza is an artist and designer from New Jersey currently residing in Santa Cruz, California. He has worked as a graphic designer for 8 years at NHS Inc., a company that makes skateboards and trucks for some of the most important brands in skateboarding (Santa Cruz Skateboards, Creature Skateboards, Independent Trucks, and many more). He works on projects for Mob Grip, Krux Trucks, OJ Wheels and Creature Skateboards. If you’ve spent any time at all around a skatepark you’ve likely seen his work. 

    We first noticed Ted's art on instagram. We loved that to him, skateboarding is a viable platform for art and artists. We were lucky enough to connect with Ted for some graphics and thought we’d pick his brain about skateboarding and how he got started doing art. 

    Hey Ted! Could you give us a quick introduction?

    My name is Ted Cocuzza and I am a graphic designer at NHS, which is a skateboard company. I currently work on 4 of the 8 brands we have. The brands I work on are Mob Grip, Krux Trucks, OJ Wheels, and Creature Skateboards

    Okay, so you combine two things we love: Skateboarding and design. When exactly did you start skateboarding?

    I started skating when I was 10 or 11 years old, when Tony Hawk's Pro Skater came out. One of my friends was like “dude you should get a skateboard, this is fun,” and I was like “all right I’ll try it out. When I was a kid I realized that skateboarding was not as easy as it is in Pro Skater but I’m glad I stuck with it all these years. It’s probably been 21 years since I started.



    And when did you start drawing?

    Way longer than I’ve been skateboarding. Since I could pick up my pencil I guess. But there’s definitely some overlap with skateboarding and I’m glad that the two can be friends with each other.  

    When did you have the realization that you could meld these two interests together? 

    I was in 6th grade and just doodling all my favorite skate logos and graphics in my notebooks and making up graphics that could hypothetically be used for skateboard companies. Obviously I was just drawing this with colored pencils and leaving it in my binders, not actually sending it to companies at that age. I was like “that's so cool.” A couple years later I realized that somebody had to be making these graphics and laying out these catalogs. Eventually I went to University of the Arts and got an illustration degree and started looking for skate industry jobs from there.

    So tell us how you made the jump from illustration to graphic design…

    When I graduated college and was looking for jobs I realized that there was a way higher demand for graphic design, as much as I loved illustration. From there I took a community college course in graphic design. Although I had learned a lot in college, I wanted some more basic knowledge of graphic design so I just took what I learned in college and applied it to this community college course and then did some internships and learned a lot through there. Over the years I learned a lot about design through working at different places.



    What's the process look like when you start a drawing or a graphic?

    I start doodling random stuff. Pinterest is very useful for finding ideas. Going into rabbit holes and gaining inspiration from anything from skateboards, movie posters, gig posters, even photography can spark an idea. Mostly it comes from doodling random stuff in my sketchbook and seeing where my brain takes me.

    Skateboarding has a lot of culture associated with it and it seems to attract creative types, do you have any theories on why that might be?

    To be a skateboarder, even if you don’t draw or do photography or anything we call a “creative activity” you still have to use the creative side of your brain to figure out what tricks work for different spots or different obstacles. Skateboarding is a problem-solving process much like doing a drawing or writing a song, except it’s a physical activity. Skateboarding overall is a creative activity. It’s a creative outlet.

    Do you have a favorite band at the moment?

    I have so many favorite bands. Actually tomorrow I’m going to San Francisco to see the Screaming Females with the Menzingers. They’re only playing an hour and a half from me so I have to check that out. I’m into punk and indie punk kind of stuff. If I had to choose my top 5 favorite bands I’d go with Gaslight Anthem, Bouncing Souls, the Misfits, Bruce Springsteen (obviously, being from Jersey) and what could I put as the fifth one… This is one of those questions where you’re never really thinking about it.. Let's just throw Blink 182 in there. I’m really into Pop Punk too, I’ll just go out there and admit it.

    Would you like to shout out your favorite place to eat in Santa Cruz?

    Shung Feng. I eat there every friday, it’s the Chinese place down the street from me.

    Do you have a standing order?

    The combination dinner D1. It comes with chicken lo mein, some veggie fried rice, some sweet and sour chicken and a little serving of hot and sour soup and two fried wontons, so you get a lot of bang for your buck.

    What’s your weapon of choice when it comes to drawing?

    When I’m in the sketching process I’ll just start with a #2 pencil in my sketchbook. I used to be really into sharpies and microns and brush pens, but nowadays with the wonderful technology of the iPad it’s all in there. It really streamlines the process. I still love drawing on paper but if you have deadlines and you just need to do an illustration in a crunch the iPad really speeds up the process. It’s another creative tool. 

    What’s the inspiration between the “art and skateboarding” graphic?

    I’ve been doing a little drawing like that every Thanksgiving for the past ten years now. I was probably in my early 20s and on Thanksgiving I had nothing to do one time so I said “I’ll do a little art and skateboarding drawing” and it became a fun little project for myself to do every Thanksgiving. Now every Thanksgiving in my head I’m like “I have to do that drawing” and it’s like a deadline I give myself even though I know I don’t have to do one.

    Is there anything you’d like to shout out or finish with?

    Shoutout to all my friends and family and everyone that I think is awesome.

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