For 20 years, Arbor Collective has been creating skateboards that are both stylish and practical. It all began when the company reconfigured their old handmade, wooden snowboards to enjoy the same hills in the warmer months – and since then, it’s grown into a feel good tradition perfect for any type of boarder.
The company’s latest effort, the Hablak Collection, is the perfect skateboard for summer, mixing practicality with a distinct look, and because it comes in varying sizes, it’s suitable for any skill level. The artwork featured on these specific boards is that of Henry Hablak, a Philadelphia-born tattoo artist and illustrator currently based out of Atlanta, who uses traditional elements of art from around the world with a signature style that combines a mixture of folklore, alchemy and shamanism influence. Hablak has traveled abroad and observed various artistic characteristics from art found in the Americas, Africa, Eastern Asia and Mesopotamia, helping him to fully hone his drawing of native symbols, patterns and subjects.
The Death of Orpheus. Who was killed by Thracian Maenads for not honoring his previous patron Dionysus. In one legend by Ovid, feeling spurned by Orpheus for taking only male lovers, the Ciconian women, followers of Dionysus, first threw sticks and stones at him as he played, but his music was so beautiful even the rocks and branches refused to hit him. Enraged, the women tore him to pieces during the frenzy of their Bacchic orgies. His head and lyre, still singing mournful songs, floated down the swift Hebrus to the Mediterranean shore where it became an oracle on the island of Lesbos.
In this particular collection, the skateboards were meant to be the canvas for Hablak’s work, decorated with illustrations that were inspired by mythical beasts and deities – each focusing on attention to detail. If you notice, the boards tend to have a checkered or triangle pattern to mimic that of early artworks from around the globe, while the colors, which feature an orange-red tone, are believed to be a representation of various vases and ceramics. It’s really a rolling piece of art right between your feet.
So, why feature Hablak, a notable local tattoo artist, on a line of quality skateboards?
“We sought [Hablak] out because he shares our passion for history, detail, and craftsmanship and his illustrations proved the perfect match for this year’s lineup,” per Arbor Collective’s website. “The result of the collaboration is a series of pure style and function that we could not be prouder to release.”
The Hablak Collection comes in five distinct styles of skateboard – the Pocket Rocket, the Pilsner, the Dropcruiser, the Axis 40 and the Catalyst. Each board size also contains a different work of art, while varying in price as well. The smallest board costs $120 and the largest will run you $190, though they’re all ready to ride, with die-cut gripe tape, bearings, 180mm trucks, and 69mm wheels. It’s definitely a fun little toy to have for the summer, whether you’re down the shore, exploring the city, whatever. And the best part about these skateboards, a little added feel-good bonus if you will, is that Arbor Collective donates to groups that protect and restore the Koa forests in Hawaii, a campaign it calls “Returning Roots.” Since the native Hawaiians invented surfing as early as 1,000 years ago on boards made of Koa wood, this campaign allows the company to give back to the planet, to the people and to the place that helps them continue to grow the board sports that directly tie into this incredible heritage.
As of today, the Hawaiian Legacy Reforestation Initiative – the company’s principal partner – has planted over 300,000 Koa trees, on 800 acres of former forestland – which keeps the circle continuing. Just a cool little bonus when purchasing this product.