Local artist paints her way into the skateboard subculture 

The artwork of AK Westerman at the Project Box in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015. - GARETT FISBECK
  • Garett Fisbeck
  • The artwork of AK Westerman at the Project Box in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015.

AK Westerman started her art career drawing on walls with crayons in her family’s home at age 4.

“Needless to say, my early works didn’t receive the appreciation I thought they deserved,” Westerman said.

The painter and graphic designer recently embarked on an interesting tangent of her primary medium, acrylic painting. Westerman now creates skateboard decks that feature her original art, though she is not a skater.

“My friend found an old board, and he asked me to paint on it to display in his home,” she said. “That was the first one I did. It was 2012.”

When a California-based skate company found her online that year, it approached her about licensing her designs. Ultimately, she did not sign a contract with the company, but the interest in her work started her thinking about licensing it with other companies or skate shops.

Westerman now produces two kinds of skate decks, one for show and another for skating, and both use the same durable Canadian maple.

For display, she paints directly onto the boards, and each piece is unique. The line used for skating features 14 pieces. She has worked with 247 Graphx Studios, 325 S. Scott St., to create the board wraps.

“I prefer to work with local businesses as often as possible,” she said.

Westerman’s art resides in fantasy and surrealistic realms. She describes her craft as “an untold fairy tale.” The designs incorporate the juxtaposition of natural and technological components and coincide with skate culture.

“While every piece is derived from my own personal narrative,” she said, “I always attempt to include some ambiguity, allowing the viewer to fill in pieces of the story according to their own unique perspective.”

The surrealist and fantasy genres allow for personal interpretation. Hearing people’s take on her art is how she derives purpose from it.

“Success is defined by the ability to capture my audience,” Westerman said, “to see them peer ever closer, seeing something new every time they look, delighting in the tiniest detail carefully hidden and visible only to those who lose themselves in the world I have created.”

One of the practical aspects of producing artistic skateboards is that she can put her work into the hands of younger consumers at a price that is affordable for budding art patrons.

The California-born and Maryland-raised artist briefly attended the School of Visual Arts in New York City as an illustration major before relocating to Oklahoma in 2001. She was a graphic designer before moving to art full-time four years ago.

“I have been very fortunate to receive tremendous support within the … Oklahoma arts community,” she said.

The artist has held exhibits in group and solo shows throughout the state, as well in Texas, California, Colorado and Ohio.

See more of her work at akorganicabstracts.com.


Print Headline: On deck, A local artist paints her way into the skateboard subculture, creating young and emerging art patrons.

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Greg Horton

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