Vernon Courtlandt Johnson, the designer behind Powell-Peralta's iconic Ripper graphic, has rejoined the skateboard company and is working on new graphics.
Johnson spent most of the 1980s with Powell-Peralta, creating deck designs for team riders before moving on to other projects. George Powell, who founded Powell-Peralta with Stacy Peralta in 1978, he had wanted to work with Johnson again for several years, "but [Johnson] has been focused on sculpture and his health, so I sensed that the time was not right to try to reconnect with him," he said.
Johnson is currently working on a graphic for Jordan Hoffart, one of Powell-Peralta's newest pros. Powell said the project is a secret and wouldn't discuss the details prior to unveiling the final version.
In 2009, Powell-Peralta recognized Johnson's influence on skateboarding culture by hosting the Rip the Ripper art show, displaying artists' own versions of the storied Ripper image. (The collection of artwork was eventually published in a book by the same name.) "The response was overwhelming," said Powell. "Many more than we even had room for wanted to pay tribute to the artist that was a big part of their early inspiration to create skate art."
Powell and Johnson stayed in touch after Johnson left the company. However, the relationship was at times turbulent. "Court and I were always cordial after he left, but there was a great tension between us as a result of not working together any more," Powell explained.
But following the art show in San Diego, Powell sensed Johnson "was ready to get back in the saddle and work with us again. When I approached him to see if he was at all interested, I discovered my timing was good and we agreed to give it a try."
Powell gave no indication of exactly how long this rekindled partnership will continue, but the company has been generating new ideas at their weekly design meetings. "Everyone on the team has contacted me and asked if Court could do a new graphic for them," he stated -- implying plenty of potential projects should Johnson care to pursue them.
"It is going well and everyone in our company is very excited to be able to work with Court again," Powell contended.