Sean Sheffey Plan B re-release:
Interview with Sean Cliver
17 years. Man, oh man. I feel like I should be 65 years old or something, looking back on the Sean Sheffey board on the left and remembering it hanging on the wall at my local skate shop when it first came out 17 years ago. A lot has changed over the last decade-and-a-half-and-a-little-bit, for the company, for Sheffey and for skateboarding in general, but what hasn’t changed is that this Plan B graphic, designed by Sean Cliver, is still super awesome and I am still as much of a fan of it now as I was way back when. In the month of February, Plan B is re-releasing it in the two shapes pictured right, with proceeds going towards Mr Sheffey himself. I asked Cliver a few questions about it…
Bob K: When did the original Sheffey board come out?
Sean Cliver: Somewhere around early 1992. It was the one and only Plan B graphic that I did after I’d landed in the loosely defined art department over at World Industries back then. Plan B was the newest kid on the block to be distributed by Steve Rocco and I wasn’t yet hip to all the inner-politics. But after I did the Sheffey graphic, Natas Kaupas said he wouldn’t be able to use me for any further 101 work if I continued to do stuff for Plan B. I understood where he was coming from. World, Blind, and 101 had already started to take on a somewhat homogeneous look with all of Marc McKee’s graphics (not that this is a bad thing, mind you), and to add another company to the mix wouldn’t do much for brand identity. So I simply opted to not do any further work for Plan B, as I much preferred working with Natas and his concepts for 101.
What’s the story behind the design?
I’d always liked the old Jimi Hendrix poster with all the crazy wires coming out of his head, and for whatever reason I took this image and adapted it to the monkey vivisection process. It wasn’t drawn for Sheffey in particular. It was just a random drawing that I felt worked well on a board shape. Mike Ternasky saw the sketch when he was up at the World offices one day and wanted to use it for a Sheffey model. Back then, graphics were moving so fast that guys would take whatever was readily available. Like the time Jeff Tremaine came by for his job interview for Big Brother magazine. In addition to his sample layouts, he’d brought some slides of his paintings, and I’m pretty sure Ternasky and Rocco spent the bulk of the interview dividing up what artwork they wanted to use on various slick bottoms for Plan B and Blind. So it was a rather profitable job interview for Tremaine, you could say.
How did this re-release come about?
Somewhere in 2007, Jody Morris contacted me and asked if I still had the artwork to the old Sheffey board and, if so, if they could use it for a special board with all the proceeds going to benefit Sean, who had apparently (and unfortunately) fallen on hard times. I’d long since sold the original artwork, but it was one of the few I’d scanned before doing so. I apologized for not having the computer skills (or time) to color it up myself, but said they were welcome to go off the original board colors if they wanted to separate it on their end. Apparently they didn’t, hence the one-color print, and I’m actually glad they didn’t knock off the original production look.
SEAN SHEFFEY, 2002
SEAN SHEFFEY, 2009 | PHOTO: JODY MORRIS
Next week Plan B is slated to release a Sheffey interview on their site. We’ll link to it, don’t worry.