‘Screaming Hand’ brings artists and skateboarders together for one night

A traveling art show inspired by an iconic piece of skateboard art called the “Screaming Hand,” a logo created by artist Jim Phillips in 1985, is coming to downtown Phoenix. (Nathan Thrash/DD)

A traveling art show inspired by an iconic piece of skateboard art is coming to downtown Phoenix for one night, bringing together local skateboarders and artists to celebrate 30 years of underground art and culture.

The exhibit is centered around the “Screaming Hand,” a skateboarding logo created by artist Jim Phillips in 1985 in Santa Cruz, California. This image has stood the test of time and is still printed on Santa Cruz brand T-shirts and skateboard decks today.

 The original Screaming Hand Logo was inspired by the image of a drowning surfer’s clenched hand sticking out of the water. (Courtesy of Jim Philips)
The original Screaming Hand Logo was inspired by the image of a drowning surfer’s clenched hand sticking out of the water. (Courtesy of Jim Philips)

Trent Martin, co-owner of local skate shop Cowtown Skateboards, set up the Phoenix date for this nationwide art show tour.

“The graphic is 30 years old,” Martin said. “It pertains to kind of an older crowd, but it’s cool because it’s crossed all these generations. The graphic is still used on skateboards that we get in the shop today.”

Along with the original sketch of the “Screaming Hand” logo and other work by Phillips, the exhibit will also feature the work of several prominent skateboard and local artists who have been influenced by this iconic image.

“Throughout each stop, whoever’s hosting the show can work with up to ten local artists,” Martin said. “It gives some local artists a chance to get out there with a different medium.”

At each stop on the tour, one of the pieces created by a local artist will be chosen to continue with the exhibit. When the exhibit reaches its final stop in Santa Cruz on Aug. 6, all of the local art that was picked up during the tour will be displayed. Some of the art may be printed on T-shirts and skateboard decks.

"Expression Frustration" by Douglas Miles was done on a 24" X 48" piece of pinewood. It is an expression of the difficulties that Native American people face trying to find their voice. (Courtesy of Douglas Miles)
“Expression Frustration” by Douglas Miles was done on a 24″ X 48″ piece of pinewood. It is an expression of the difficulties that Native American people face trying to find their voice. (Courtesy of Douglas Miles)

Douglas Miles, a muralist and skateboard artist who founded Apache Skateboards in San Carlos, Arizona, submitted a piece of art, inspired both by the “Screaming Hand” and his Apache ancestry.

“It’s one of those iconic skate graphics that never goes away… it’s just a simple but strong image,” Miles said. “My piece for the Screaming Hand 30th Anniversary Art Show is a commentary on the frustration of expression of native people in this country.”

Miles says that he interprets the “Screaming Hand” as a representation of emotions that people have difficulty articulating.

“We’re all trying to say certain things, but sometimes you don’t have words to say it,” Miles said.

Amy Young, a curator and freelance writer in Phoenix who helped Cowtown Skateboards organize the show, described skateboarding as something that can transcend into other areas of interest.

Young has worked on other skateboard art shows in the past such as “Deck” in 2006, which involved artists both in and out of the general sphere of skateboarding culture.

“I loved seeing people who really had a passion, a lifetime commitment to skateboarding, be able to express that in an artistic way,” Young said. “It’s kind of a nice way to bring some different worlds together.”

The Screaming Hand Art Show will be on display at MonOrchid for one night only. Visitors can see the exhibit at First Friday on Feb. 5 from 6-10 p.m.

Contact the reporter at craig.r.johnson@asu.edu.

Correction: Feb. 4, 2016: An earlier version of this story misstated the year and title of Amy Young’s older skateboard art show was. It was called “Deck,” not “Hit the Deck,” and happened in 2006, not 2013.