Manuel: So Shepard, first off tell me how did a kid with a father who was a football captain, and mother who was the head cheerleader grow up to be a dirty skate punk?
Shepard: (laughs) I grew up in South Carolina and around 1983 a bunch of my friends got skateboards. In Charleston, surfing was in and skateboarding was becoming more in the peripheral of that. I think people were just starting to get skateboards as toys with the trend. None of them took it too seriously. I was like “ah, I’m not going to get in on that. It’s just dumb.” Until a friend left his board over at my house and I just started tick tacking around and really enjoyed it. Prior to that I had really been into tennis and football and soccer and all the usual sports. I hated having to always have someone to go play these sports with, and when I started skateboarding it was just something that I could totally just go do by myself. It was totally creative, and it was like “fuck having to call people.” Then for my 14th birthday February 14th, 1984 I got a skateboard. My mom would not out-rite buy me a skateboard, but she said if I paid for half she would pay for the other half. My parents thought skateboards were for hoodlums and I guess they were right. So that day I drove out to the surf shop and it was the same day they had got Skate Visions’, the very first Vision Skate video. With the soundtrack by Agent Orange playing in the shop as I was picking out my board. It really made me want to skate more because of all these tricks I had never seen. Plus with the punk rock sound track. I was like oh, and I gotta get all the music too. So pretty much in that one day the rest of my life was starting to take form. Which is pretty crazy, right? If my friend had not left his skateboard at my house I probably would not be the person I am today.
Manuel: How do you think skateboarding and punk rock influenced you in the art sense?
Shepard: From that day on, skateboarding and punk rock became all I cared about, and my parents hated it. I once broke into the school to get into a friend’s locker because he said he had a Thrasher Magazine in there. It was a huge influence all around. It was not some huge thing back then the way it is today, so if you managed to get your hands on Sex Pistols tape or Black Flag or whatever, you really had to work for it, and you really took a lot of pride in it. Plus skateboarding in the mid 80’s was super do it yourself. That was what got me into making t-shirts and screen printing. At first I just cut stencils and spray painted shirts. Then I realized my art teacher had a real primitive screen print rig in the back room that no one was using. Then I started screen printing some shirts for myself and couple extra for friends. You could see that in a short time in 1984-1985 my whole career was beginning to form based on that stuff.