Art That Moves: Damon Counard creates custom-painted skateboards

Damon Counard picked up a skateboard for the first time in 2013. Now, eight years later, he’s combining his favorite pastime with a blossoming talent in painting to create designer skateboards through his own company, Burnout Skateboards. 

Counard is a carpenter at Portside, and although he hasn’t had much formal training outside of an art class at Southern Door with Ernest Beutel – a painter and staffer at the Artists Guild in Sturgeon Bay – Beutel has been very encouraging to the young skateboarder. 

“Damon has a good eye already,” Beutel said, “and I am very pleased that he has a refreshed drive to do art. I think he has some great ideas. He is making steps to not only build his business, but to refine his aesthetic. He has reached out to me for some ideas, and I am extremely happy to have a chance to work with him for a second time.”

Counard buys blank boards online, then goes to work on them. He said skateboards can range from $25 for a simple deck to $125 or more for the complete outfit with wheels. 

“I buy my whole setup for about 120 bucks, maybe a little bit more,” Counard said, “but that’s because I tend to go for the good-quality stuff.”

Counard rips it up at the Sturgeon Bay Skatepark. Photo by Tom Groenfeldt.

High-quality boards are strong – made of seven-ply glued plywood. The latest models are concave, with curved sides and upturned lips and backs. Higher-end versions may be made of carbon fiber, which commands a higher price. 

Summer should be good for business, Counard said, because the Sturgeon Bay Skatepark attracts a lot of visitors who appreciate the fact that it’s an attractive, free park. He’s there most days and promotes Burnout Skateboards by word of mouth and through Instagram. 

So far Counard has been depending on personal contacts, but business is growing as more people request custom designs. One of his latest designs was for a young woman who adopted a dog named SharkBait, so the name and an accompanying graphic of a shark now adorn her new skateboard.

When Counard’s ideas don’t come from clients, he said the imagery often comes from musical references. 

“Listening to jazz, then I might draw something pretty, like a couple of flowers on a skateboard,” Counard said. “But going to listen to punk or death metal, then I might get a little weird.”

Or he’ll rely on the things he’s most comfortable drawing.

“I like to draw anatomy,” he said. “I draw a lot of faces and hands. I am told I have a natural art talent.” 

Some of that might have come from his father, who was a professional tattoo artist for 20 years. He has done one tattoo – on his father’s leg – but he much prefers skateboards.

“Tattoos give you one chance,” Counard said. “Unlike skateboards, you can’t sand it down and do it again. It is too perfect for me, that one-shot deal.”