Back Issue__ Benny Gold

September 09, 2009 | By

Before a mention of paper planes conjured notions of M.I.A., Benny Gold had designed his paper plane logo, an image he considers his emblem. He sees it as an iconic symbol of youth and growth, and has even released a skate wax in its shape. ‘Once a paper plane is in flight, it is all about exploration,’ Benny says.

Benny is a skater, graphic designer, brand owner and, from what we can tell, a pretty great husband. He created the original identities for the Huf skate brand and Mashed fixed-gear brand, and has worked for a range of clients from Nike to The Body Shop to Interscope records. Benny’s work is versatile and has appeared on different surfaces, from hats to key chains to stickers. His work was so popular that, in 2001, Benny launched a self-titled clothing line. And when pieces from his line drop—like his Doughboy New Era caps or his Benny Gold x Common Magazine leather key chains—the blogs talk.

We caught up with Benny to talk about his high school doodling, working for small skate brands versus large corporations, San Francisco and his new sticker flick group. With his positive attitude and friendly smile, with Benny, it’s all golden.

What did your notebooks look like in high school? What kind of doodling were you mostly doing?

What a good question to start off with. My notebooks in high school had skateboard and punk band logos drawn all over them, mostly H-Street and Subhumans. One day at my local skate spot (the post office), my friend and I met this skateboarder from out of town. He was so good. It was amazing and my friend and I were blown away. It was surreal how good he was. He had this little dog drawing on his grip tape that said ‘anarchy dog.’ I tried to recreate the anarchy dog on my high school notebooks, as well, in hopes it would make me skate as good as he did.

What made you want to get into design in the very first place?

I didn’t get interested in design until I was already studying in art school. All I wanted to do was skateboard. I had no plans past that. When I graduated college, my parent forced me to go to art school because I could draw somewhat decent. I’m really glad they did!

What other kind of art besides graphic design are you feeling these days?

Over the years, I really got focused and specialized in design, mostly identity design and apparel graphics. I used to paint a lot, but decided I needed to focus and grow myself as a designer.

How does working for a big commercial client like Target differ from working for skate industry clients?

They pay better—ha. Honestly, though, I approach every project the same and try to put out the best work I possibly can regardless of who it’s for.

What differentiates the skate scene in San Francisco from other cities?

At one point, SF was the place to be for skating. I always wanted to live here as long as I could remember. I think the great thing about the skate scene in SF is that everyone that is here feels the same way. We are all happy to be here and that creates a really strong, positive scene.

Who are some female skaters you think are dope?

Elissa Steamer fuckin’ rips! I have been out skating with her and she will do some of the gnarliest stuff. I have so much respect for her. She is awesome!

Why do you think there aren't really any women’s skate brands?

There has been some in the past that have started out as women’s skate brands. There might be a void in the market. Hopefully someone will launch one that is successful!

Skate and street culture are both very male-dominated. Do you think the culture will progress to accept woman as much as it does men?

I hope so. I don’t think that either exclude women.

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