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Mark "Fos" Foster Talks Heroin Skateboards & Snot Wheels

Today, we have the pleasure of picking the brain of an individual whose sketchbook and unique vision has helped shape skateboarding as we know it. In 1998, our friend Mark "Fos" Foster founded Heroin Skateboards. What started as an elaborate joke is now one of the most popular skate brands around the world. Heroin features unorthodox shapes, striking art, and an eclectic team of skateboarders who march to the beat of their own drum. Skate nerds will immediately recognize Fos’ art and design style that has graced the veneers of brands like Baker, Deathwish, Element, Toy Machine, Zero, Creature, and many more.

Join us as we delve into the creative mind of Fos to talk about shapes, art, building a team, Heroin Skateboards, and his newest brand, Snot Wheels.  


Fos, thanks for catching up with us! We know you are a busy man, what does a day in the life look like these days?  

Wake up around 9 or 10, and make an Americano. We recently got a nice espresso machine which is a game changer. Have some toast or a pastry and get to work. Checking emails and what’s coming in, and trying to balance either freelance art, Heroin or Snot wheels art or packing snot orders up and shipping those out. The missus gets home around 4, so hang with her and get some dinner watch a show or two, then she crashes out around 10 and I usually start my night shift work. Art for Heroin’s next season stuff, graphics, ads, or board shapes.   

 

It’s always a good day in the shop when we get to pop open a fresh box of Heroin decks and inspect the latest shapes. Are your shapes inspired by experimentation, ongoing jokes, skate-a-bility, or a combination?  

Skate-a-bility is usually the number one factor that dictates a shape for me. It has to be functional. When I first started making shapes around 2014 or so, we did a couple of duds because it was more of a case of “Oh this nose and tail look cool together” and you kind of lose track of it all a bit, and you end up with a 15.5 wheelbase or something terrible on a 32-inch board. Not good. 

The tape measure seems to be coming out a lot these days, so let’s talk about wheelbase. Is wheelbase all personal preference, or does a certain wheelbase help a certain style of skateboarder? Can you throw some fuel on the fire for this ongoing debate?  

Wheelbase is key. I was skating Jim Greco’s old park years ago trying a blunt slide on a bank to parking block and I couldn’t do it at all on this 8.5 that I had. It just wouldn’t rotate when I was trying to pop out 180. Must have tried it 50-100 times. I think the WB was 14.5 or 14.6. I went home and set up an 8.38 pop with a 14.25 WB and went back the next day and did it first or second try and I had them every time after that. So that was when I understood the difference in the functionality of the WB factor. Most of our wheelbases run around 14.125-14.3. There’s some longer ones, but I feel like these are the sizes that work the best on our boards.

 

Over the years, the Heroin team has always been a mixing pot of skate styles. From the effortless flow of Daniel Shimizu, the monster pop of Lee Yankou, to Dead Dave barging the roughest terrain in sight. Chopper seems to sit in his own genre. What do you take into consideration when picking team riders?   

So many things, style, originality, and it's almost detrimental if they could fit on another team, I feel like our guys really wouldn’t work riding for any other brands. Hard to say what the magic formula is though really. I think if people are doing tricks that I’ve never seen before but aren’t too kooky, then that’s a good start, that’s a very fine line to walk down though.  

Does the team give input on the shapes and dimensions of the boards? 

Yes, Dead Dave and I designed his Mutant shape. Swampy has just helped me design two shapes that are coming up. One in April and one in July.  I literally just finished setting the sample of the July one up, the code name for it is the Bog Log 2. I still have grippe dust on my hands as I’m typing this. Going to take that for a spin tomorrow with the crew.

 

Is there such thing as too wide of a skateboard?

I haven't found one yet. Our only limitation there would be trucks. Hard to get 12" wide trucks.

Tell us about Snot Wheels. When did you kick off that brand?  

That was an idea that came to me in the pandemic. I had the idea for it in 2020 because Dead Dave didn’t have a wheel sponsor and I decided to work on a wheel brand. I hit up Jake Snelling from the Blokes videos too, I’ve known Jake for years and he wasn’t riding for a wheel brand, so they were the first two riders.

It was really hard getting wheels in the pandemic because of all the shortages, I got one delivery in 2021, and they sold out in ten days. Then 2022 things got a little more back to normal as far as production. I had two big orders in and of course, they arrived in the same month. There’s been challenges for sure, I run it all from my house and I pack everything from a shipping container in my yard. All the wheels are made in the USA at great factories. I never wanted to go the China route, their wheels are still trash at the moment.  I’m just having fun with it all, all our crew ride them which is a good sign.  

 

Your timeless art is the recognizable identity of Heroin Skateboards. Could you take us through your process of creating a skateboard graphic?  

1. The idea. It has to be something that makes sense and works and fits in with what the brand is doing.  

2. Sketching it up. Pen or pencil in a sketchbook is my usual route. Get down the basics of how we want this thing to look.  

3. Get it on the computer. I usually take a photo on my phone of a decent draft and then work it up from there, redraws, redraws, redraws.  

Sometimes they take a few redraws and lots of Lightbox time. Then get the finished one and it goes back in the computer, photoshop then vectored into Illustrator and then colored up in there. That’s usually about it, then wait for 3 months and see if anyone buys it when it comes out. Haha.  
 

In your opinion, what makes for a great skateboard graphic?  

I think some of the best graphics that I’ve done have a few factors going for them...

There’s stuff like the Frank Villani bat board, the graphic is technically alright, you get the idea of it, looking back I’d probably change a few elements in there slightly, but it’s kind of made better by the fact it’s Franky Villani’s first pro board. So there’s that. I’ve done a few for him now, but that is the one I have on my wall. What I’m saying is that sometimes it’s a combination of the rider, the brand and the graphic that makes the graphic so special. The context. I think that’s true for a lot of the great graphics.  

I always just try and do my best as a designer, don’t put text under the truck if possible. Have the rider's name and the brand on there. I have some weird rules too, like don’t have a picture of a skateboard on the board. That seems super kooky to me. It’s a skateboard, we know you like skateboarding, we don’t need a picture of a board on your board. I always cringe at portraits of pros on their boards too. “Oh you’re riding a board with a portrait of yourself on there?” Hmmm....
 

Do you have any advice for young skaters out there trying to make a career out of design and art?   

I pitched graphics to loads of brands before Ed at Toy Machine gave me my first opportunity. Know who you’re pitching to, have a familiarity with the brands, and the riders'. Skulls and stuff aint going to work for a brand like Girl or Chocolate, but there’s plenty of brands that it might work for. They may not need any graphics when you pitch at first but keep trying, every skate brand needs new graphics every 90 days. So that should be your motivation to pitch to people. I’ve kind of knocked off the pitching stuff and freelancing to other brands off a bit these days because I’m busy with Heroin and Snot.  

Love it, let's switch gears to our rapid-fire round... 

 

Shaped or popsicle deck?  

Eggs forever, 9.5 Symmetrical egg is my go-to now, haven’t ridden a popsicle since 2018

 

Favorite Wheelbase size?  

14.25   

 

Backside or Frontside Wallride?  

I learnt backside ones first, in Manchester around 1990 I think, a guy called Animal taught me'em. Thanks Jay.  

 

No-Comply or Boneless?   

No Comply, I’m not that good at Bonelesses, to be honest.   

 

Favorite UK skater?  

Dead Dave, he restored my faith in skateboarding editing his Earth Goblin part.  
 

Favorite American Skater?  

Zane Timpson (RIP)  
 

Favorite skate video?  

So many, Public Domain was my first one I owned, and Speed Freaks will always have a special place in my heart. Video Days and Fucktards are obviously game changers of the genre and those Eastern Exposure vids. I got super in Japan DVDs from the early 2000’s too. Takahiro Morita videos. Oh, and the Scarecrow videos were really inspiring to me too.  
  

Favorite song you ever edited a part to?  

"Sports" by Viagra Boys, I edited Dead Dave’s part to it. I must have watched that part about 400 times, yet I still love that song, so that’s a testament to a good song there. I had no backup one if they said that they didn’t want us to use it, thankfully they were really cool.   

 

How do you like your eggs?  

9.5 and gripped  

Thanks for your time, Fos. We can't wait to see what’s up next for Heroin and Snot. Cheers!


  

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