The guy behind the butts, cats, one liners and quirky designs

The young Jay Izzard did an interview with the infamous Instagramer,  graphic designer – skater dude – fan of pink caps Leon Karsen. He asked him about his life and inspiration. Read the full piece down below.

Who is Leon Karssen?
The nineteen year old artist from The Hague isn’t short of talent, however in his words he just draws stuff. Leon Karssen who is from what seems a different planet has landed himself a solid skate artist reputation all over our planet across his various social media platforms. With butts,cats and one liners being his forte his quirky designs have been receiving a lot of attention. With RipnDip having released a collaboration with the cat-man he’s also more recently launched his own web shop on the online Manus skate store and his own clothing line in the store itself. Take a peak at what he has to say;

Hey Leon, quick introduction?
Hey, I’m Leon Karssen, I’m 19 years old. I live in The Hague, The Netherlands and I’m a high school drop out. I just draw stuff. I’m not good with words, so this stuff is hard for me. I don’t know what to say.

lon k pic 2

What encouraged you to drop out of school?
I wanted to go to a graphic design school, college. So I would be done with my education quicker and I would have my degree, but then I found out you’re not required to have a degree. Then college started to suck. I do want to be a graphic designer, but I just want to draw and try to be relevant to skateboarding. I would like to call myself an artist at some point in life and I felt school was holding me back. I just want enough money to eat and have a crappy apartment. I think I’m able to reach that. So I dropped out of college after a few months. I sound like such a rebellious teenager cliché.

Where’d you like to live or visit when you’re older then?
America. NYC or whatever big city. Looks cool to skate and it’s cheap and no language barrier. Maybe also Japan for just the skating and food, not for the other reasons given.

Cheap?!
I don’t know about renting, but the dollar is worth less than the euro and you can buy more for the dollar there than that you can buy for the euro in The Netherlands.

The theme of your artworks unique. What inspirations do you have behind your artwork?
Skateboarding is my only influence. I started having fun with drawing just around when I started skating. I aspire to be myself, but successful and with enough money to eat and have a house. I don’t know. I just draw whatever comes to mind and what makes me laugh or not. I don’t want to go to deep.

Grip-art is what you are largely known for. What attracted you to do create and sell grip-art in the first place?
A friend gave me paint markers he stole from school. It’s fun because it’s the only thing I see that is remotely close to the term art and you can skate on it. Mixing two creative outputs into one. I love it.

lon k pic

What do you use to create your artwork?
I mostly draw stuff on my computer with my mouse out of laziness, and I use the programs MS Paint and Photoshop. I used to use Gimp but that sucks. I also draw by hand and color it by hand or whatever or scan it in and finish it on the computer. For my grip art I just mainly use Posca Paint pens.

People all over the world are tattooing your artwork on their bodies what do you think of it when you see it?
I find it funny.

Where do you wish to take your projects in the near future and what are you aspirations for the distant future?
I just hope I make enough name of myself and be able to keep on drawing. Would love to work with some bigger companies in the future preferably skateboarding related. Just keep on drawing.

lon k pic 6

Speaking of companies who are your favourite’s?
I don’t have a favourite company. It’s like asking for my favourite food. I love Polar and Krooked, but I have too many. Sorry.

How do you think your art has developed?
Yes my drawings’ have definitely improved. If you draw often it’s weird not to get better. I switched to photoshop which made my drawings’ look even better.

In your opinion how do you think skate art has developed recently? It’s becoming more and more popular with people outside of the skate circle too.
I don’t know. I don’t keep track of other art and stuff. I do follow some illustrators and artists that work skate related, but I never think of this stuff. I really just draw and don’t think.

Why is it that you don’t follow many artists? You must have a favourite artist though?
It’s because I don’t really care about other art. I like skateboard related stuff and I do follow some people, but I would never spend money on art or whatever other than when it’s printed on a skateboard. But I do like Stefan Narancic and Eloise Dorr. A lot more people skate and draw but that’s quite a list.

Has the city had a big influence on you – your work or your skating?
Of course! Even though I don’t feel influenced by it your surroundings always influence you in some way. Not for my drawing’s per se, but for my skating.

What’s your local skate scene like?
My local skate scene is alright, some swag here and there, but mostly cool people: It’s more street than transition here.

What kind of swag?
I meant the poser kind of hype boys swag skater boy.

Who are your favourite skaters?
I could never choose one favourite – but here are a few skaters that pop up in my mind.
Gou Miyagi he’s creative and always looks like he has fun and is great at it.
Luan Oliveira because he skates so fast and with pop and a great style.
Pontus Alv, relevant mindset and nice skating.
Chris Milic a creative skater and skates super good and he is hilarious.
Jimmy Carlin I wish he was my father.

Okay, lets rap this up. Is there anybody you want to give a shout out to?
I would like to shout out some sick locals Oscar Greenwell, Melle Sturing, Ted Clarke, Floris Bierkins, Fadzli bin Zahari, Regi Vermeij, Simon te G now some skaters worth looking up Jesse Hillinga for hooking me up with his old boards and he rips! And not to forget Manus Skateshop my local skateshop, got to support that.

Written by Jay Izzard.