John’s family moved from the small town of Marin in Northern California to San Diego at the age of 4 years old in 1979 and from there he was surrounded by skateboarding, surfing, fashion and music. He remembers in the early 80s seeing kids break-dancing on his block on linoleum mats. This influenced John into getting into hip hop around age 6 listening to Neucleus, Grandmaster Flash, and watching movies like Breakin’. He lived near University ave. in east San Diego, miles from the beach, but had a poster of Tom Curren in his room at age 9. Surfing and skateboarding always caught John’s eye.
CRIME BRAND / ART DIRECTOR / JOHN SCHLESINGER
Around this time John’s parents transferred him to a private school in La Jolla that John’s Mother worked next to, and a lot of his new classmates surfed and skated. John was quick to get influenced by them, and picked up his first skateboard complete from Mitch's Surf Shop/La jolla at age 10. It was a Vision Aggressor Deck, Blue Venture Trucks, and Green Slime Ball wheels. He spent the next few years with his buddies mobbing through Downtown La Jolla around prospect, weaving through tourists on sidewalks, ollieing curbs and getting into mild trouble sometime shoplifting garbage pail kids, candy, and thrashers from the local drug stores. He loved skating in Mission beach on "Big Wednesday", a weekly skate event put on by Hamel’s skateshop on the MB Boardwalk. John also used to sneak into Del Mar skate ranch even though he was younger than 12, the minimum age requirement. John’s fascination for skateboard graphics started back then, and all he wanted to do is get a job at a skateboard company doing art.
After the closing of Del Mar Skate Ranch, John got into surfing and remembers catching his first waves at Law street. His first board was a thick 80’s tri-fin from Laguna Surf and sport in 1988. John spent years surfing the inside, keeping clear of harsh local’s and trying to earn his way to eventually get to the peak. After 3 years John heard about Harry’s surfshop ran by local legend Skip Frye and Hank Warner, he knew how respected these surf innovators were in the community and saved all his money washing neighborhood cars and bartering his stuff to get a board from Harry's. He remembers walking in and Skip and Donna Frye were working that day, John would have got a Skip Frye Longboard but they were $425 at the time, and John only had $200 to work with, so he picked up a used Hank Warner 6’6” egg tri-fin that was a really good board for him at the time. The board was covered in full carbon fibers, with a baby blue Hank Warner Laminate, the board taught John how to trim top to bottom. It seemed like the board would just do it on its own, a true magic carpet.
For the next 4 years John skated and surfed as much as he could, and he didn’t care or want to get sponsored, he just loved the act and feeling of it all. As the son of a engineer father and artist mother, he had support and love at home, but was never introduced or forced to surf by them, it was all John’s passion. After graduating from high school John focused on art and design, being influenced by skate graphics and album covers, he still held onto the dream to break into skateboard graphics and / or the record industry. He was listening to a lot of punk, grunge, metal, and hip-hop. He was also into classic cars and drove a 1964 Ford Galaxie in midnight burgandy around this time in 1994.
There was a lot of innovation in the late 90's in San Francisco in Skateboarding, so wanting to be near the action, he eventually enrolled in art school in San Francisco in 1998. After class he would skate at pier 7 and embarcadero in awe of all the legends he would see. During art school John sent a letter and some drawings to Deluxe which landed him an interview for art position, but unfortunately didn’t get the job, so he started his career doing design for a local marketing agency.
Not being fulfilled in the corporate marketing world, john saw Deluxe was again hiring for a spot in the art room and he sent a way more focused resume and art samples from a underground skate brand he was creating called Olé. Deluxe loved the work and John got the position in his dream art room working alongside Jim Thiebaud, Tommy Guerrero, Mark Gonzales, Julian Stranger, John Cardiel, Frank Gerwer, and many other very gifted skateboarders and artists. John became the Art Director for Thunder Trucks, and also completed projects for Deluxe’s other brands - Spitfire wheels, Real Skateboards, Antihero Skateboards and Krooked Skateboards.
After 4 years with Deluxe, John felt it was time to move on career-wise. Although Deluxe was the most inspiring place he ever worked with the greatest staff, San Francisco was getting more and more pricey so John decided to take an opportunity as a designer for Dolby Laboratories. Whether it was the right decision or not it was crucial for his growth to move forward. It was a great job with many gifted employees, but after 3 years at Dolby it just felt like it was to big of a company and was again to corporate. A funny fact is while at Dolby, John was created an underground skateboard company called Kapitol Skateboards, and he used to get palettes of the boards shipped to the basement mailroom at the 50 Potrero Dolby Labs building in San Francisco.
After Dolby, John eventually moved on to take smaller more rewarding clients such as Om Records, OJ Wheels, and Santa Cruz Skateboards and Santa Cruz Surfboards. In 2011 there was an opportunity to help build a new Soft-top surfboard brand called Catch Surf in San Clemente. John thought that sounded like a fun opportunity so he interviewed and got the job, then moved down to Southern CA. At the time Catch Surf was an unknown brand with just one board offering, the Beater. John collaborated with Tom Morey and helped develop all of there new offerings logos and brands, such as the Tom Morey “Y” Brand, Odysea surfboard line, Catch Surf Clothing, Catch Surf’s brand / Artist collaborations- Creature Skateboards x Catch Surf Collab, Barry McGee, Welcome Skateboards. The pro beater line with art for Kalani Robb, Jamie O’brien, Julian Wilson, The Moniz Brothers, and more. John also developed the Womper brand, US Fin Co, and the Wave Bandit brand while at Catch Surf.
This whole time at Catch John enjoyed surfing all of the soft-tops every morning before work and in 2013 started experimenting with Finless surfing and got hooked on it. Being tired of the same top to bottom surfing with fins, it seemed monotonous and the different lines, slide directions, speed and feeling you get when you remove the fins was very fascinating to John. By 2016 John’s main surfing focus was finless and probably used fins just a couple times a year, while most of his surfs were finless. He loved it so much that at this time started @clubfinless on instagram.
Around 2018 and after 7 years with Catch Surf john decided to leave the brand, he felt the 80s style of Catch Surf was not evolving enough to his satisfaction, so rather than battling with marketing and the CEO he graciously felt his work was done there, wished them the best and moved on. At this time John was regular at San Onofre and would surf with CJ Nelson quite a bit, and CJ told John about a new high quality softboard he wanted to create with Yu Sumitomo called CRIME and asked John to design a Finless model for it. John designed the THR with the help of his friend Josh Lazcano, AMAZE a close friend and widely known and respected graffiti writer. John being about the exact age as CJ, they saw eye to eye on design, art, music, surfing and skateboarding, and after CJ reviewed John’s design portfolio in action sports and trend setting brands, he asked John to help him develop the CRIME brand and become a partner of Crime.
Since then John has been hard at work on CRIME, designing the look and feel of the surfboard line, the clothing, filming and editing of the videos, the website design, the relationship with collaborative artists, and also the @surfcrime instagram posts alongside CJ Nelson and Yu Sumitomo. John takes great pride in Crime and describes it as surfboards made by skateboarders. You can checkout John’s personal instagram at @everydaysrad to stay up to date with him. Aloha!