HomeAAPI Heritage MonthFilipina American Kristina Sison turns skateboards into works of art

Filipina American Kristina Sison turns skateboards into works of art

By Sacha Wedner

On Thursday, May 2nd, Kristina Sison debuted her first ever collection of skateboard art at the Portland-based ad agency Wieden+Kennedy. This showcase was a part of Wieden+Kennedy’s Shared Spaces, an immersive Asian household experience.

The pieces on display were inspired by Sison’s Filipino-American upbringing. Her Filipino American identity has always had an impact on her work. She loved the patterns and intricacies of Asian art growing up.

Photo courtesy of Thien-y

“In every Asian household there are wood carvings, mixed media, red and gold everywhere and I just loved all those pieces you’d see in a very stereotypical Asian home,” said Sison in an interview with AsAmNews.

Sison has over a decade of experience creating skateboard art, and works closely with her clients to create one-of-a-kind-pieces. Some of her collaborations include painting a sunflower board for an Australia-based bikini line, building a skatepark in Costa Rica and donating a custom-made skateboard to a local family.

As for her inspirations, Sison looks towards artists who experiment with typography and murals, including Gustavo Zermeño, Phoebe (Cornog) Nelson and Zachary Smith. In addition, Kristina also mentioned that she has also been inspired by other female Asian artists such as Audrey Kawasaki and Allison Hueman.

Sison’s love for skateboarding goes back to her childhood, where a lot of her friends were skaters. She has always respected the sport and the culture of perseverance, and also admired the art and style within skateboarding circles.

“I was always a very creative kid, and had a blank board in my closet and just decided to try that as a canvas one day and here we are, about a decade later,” said Sison. “And over 100 boards later! I wouldn’t say I’m a good skater though, I can sorta just cruise a bit.”

Despite her passion, Sison’s path to becoming an artist wasn’t an easy one.

“I was always told to focus on school and my studies. Having Asian parents, there are those typical jobs like nursing, doctor, engineer, but pursuing art wasn’t something my parents were always on board with at first,” she explained.

Sison earned a degree in Visual Communication and Interior Architecture. It was still hard to sell her parents on her degree and on her more creative path through higher education.

“A big reason why I didn’t pursue any creative career is a part of me that wanted to keep my art as a passion and also I was scared of failing and just not being good enough,” she said, adding, “Even though I work in advertising and am constantly in the room with some of the most creative people I’ve ever met, I like to keep my art and passion somewhat separate from my professional career.”

Photo courtesy of Thien-Y

Throughout her journey, Sison said that her biggest cheerleader was her younger sister, Karla.

“We were also lucky to have parents who encouraged creativity and let us paint our walls as we pleased growing up, so when she was a teenager she would paint murals on our bedroom walls,” Karla said in an interview with AsAmNews. “She’s always had a love for creative expression for as long as I can remember, and the interest in skateboards was always there as well.”

When reflecting on Shared Spaces, Sison said that the experience “felt like a safe place to debut my art, and I did have so much support from my friends and former colleagues, and of course the Asiancy ERG at Wieden and Kennedy.”

For other aspiring AAPI artists, Sison’s advice is simple: “Keep doing it. Keep creating. You choose how you want to share it with the world, but never stop. I think it’s easy to give up but you have to put yourself out there.”

Sison hopes that by continuing her art, she’ll continue “to meet new people, hear their stories, and make them something unique that makes that feel happy or some type of way inside.”

Karla believes that, for her sister, nothing is impossible.

“The way I see it, she can take any project and make it better,” Karla said. “And I’m not just saying that because she’s my sister. You can ask any of her colleagues and peers.”

AsAmNews is published by the non-profit, Asian American Media Inc. Follow us on FacebookX, InstagramTikTok and YouTube. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to support our efforts to produce diverse content about the AAPI communities. We are supported in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library in partnership with the California Department of Social Services and the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs as part of the Stop the Hate program. To report a hate incident or hate crime and get support, go to CA vs Hate.

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