Keenan Perren got the idea to cut up old busted skateboards and create collages out of the pieces for a simple reason. “When you break your board,” he says, “you don’t have anything to do with it.” And people who love to skateboard, Perren says, break a lot of boards.
Perren began skateboarding in his early teens, when he lived in New Jersey. When he moved to Sarasota several years ago, he fell in with a creative group of skating enthusiasts. He took art classes in high school but has no advanced training in the arts or woodworking. He taught himself to use a scroll saw by watching videos on YouTube.
Perren plans his images on a computer. To start, he might find photos of artists like Kurt Cobain or Kanye West, or characters from pop culture, or he might pull up snapshots of friends. “I print it out big and piece it together, like stained glass or a puzzle,” he says.
The closer you get to Perren’s work, the more detail you see, like little nicks and scrapes picked up from unforgiving concrete. Perren likes to incorporate the existing designs on skateboards into his final pieces. They provide texture and depth to the final image, and act as references to skate culture to those in the know.
Perren has been making his collages for four years. At first, he just shared them with people he knew, but a friend encouraged him to begin making them for others. He posts his designs on Instagram, where they generate plenty of positive reviews like “dope” and “wicked.” Perren describes himself as “shy” when it comes to putting his work out in the world but credits the local skate community for supporting him. “There are just a lot of creative people out there,” he says. “They help each other out.”