New skate brand FURR Skateboards is helping nurture a new wave of creativity in South Wales' 'pretty shitty city'.

New skate brand FURR Skateboards is helping nurture a new wave of creativity in South Wales' 'pretty shitty city'.

Swansea has a reputation for being a bit of a shit hole. Heroin and teenage pregnancies tend to dominate headlines about the “ugly lovely” town (thanks Vice) but beyond the poverty and ruin – a hangover from a once-booming metallurgical industry – is a creative community that is transforming culture from the bottom up.

New skate brand FURR Skateboards is one such grassroots project. Cutting a new shape among the Poundlands and pasty shops of Swansea’s disconnected city centre, FURR is an art-focused skate brand that is all about bringing the young creatives – photographers, illustrators, printers etc. – from the local area and further afield together to make great shit happen.

Their first collection of decks – featuring artwork by Swansea natives illustrators Jamie Morrison and Jack Kirtley and photographers Rob Crowley and Sarah Beasley as well as a guest spot by French artist Lucas Beaufort – pay homage to Swansea’s beautiful natural landscape with surreal, trippy twists. We caught up with founders Tom Frayne and Rhys Pillai to find out more.

What is FURR?
FURR is an artist orientated, skater owned, DIY brand based in Swansea, South Wales.

Why did you start it?
FURR grew out of a desire to return home after being on tour and start something new and exciting. There is a thriving skate scene in Wales but a lack of brands to support it and that was a void we wanted to fill. Our main focus was on the DIY aspect of the company and we wanted to be as self-sufficient as possible with the production side of things. Also, we have a lot of artist friends who do great but largely under-appreciated things so we saw FURR as providing a perfect platform for them. We decided we wanted to team up with as many artists as possible to bring skaters unique work they can get excited about.

How do you hope it will have an impact?
We want to uphold and advocate the fun and creative side of skate culture which people often forget about to make it more accessible. By placing our focus on skateboarding and art in equal measures, we hope the brand can reach and interest people who don’t necessarily skate. FURR isn’t just a skate brand, it’s a way to help showcase artists and provide a platform that goes beyond the white gallery wall or internet page. Art meets function and at FURR both are as important as each other.

What’s the skate scene in Swansea like?
Swansea has a strong skate scene which continues to grow. I guess the street skate scene is the same in any city, crews of enthusiastic skaters adventuring for new spots after old spots being gridded on or on lock down. Thankfully, our friends over at Exist recently opened up an indoor skatepark to help us in our fight against the bad Welsh weather.

Who is involved in FURR?
FURR was started by two friends, Tom Frayne and Rhys Pillai, a skateboarder and a screenprinter. We had both been scouting out artists for a while, which is why it became such a focal point for both of us for the company. Also, our team rider Welsh Tommy has been a great help in getting our strong team together. I guess you can say FURR is a growing family of artists and skateboarders, all looking to create something awesome.

How can people get involved/show support?
Other than the obvious, buying, just help to spread the word, turn up to our future exhibitions, and just generally get involved! We are always looking for artists to work with so if you feel you have something great you can contribute to FURR we would love to hear from you.

What have been the challenges?
To be honest financing is always the greatest starting challenge but support has been great and helped us push through. Every artist has been totally awesome and delivered some amazing work for us to focus on and build a strong foundation for the brand. The local scene has helped a great deal in spreading the word which has been the greatest comfort. Challenges are only really there if you let them be.

What are the inspirations behind FURR?
Every artist that we’ve been lucky enough to work with, our skate team, the amazing designs that come from Magenta, Polar, Lovenskate, The National Skate Co. There are too many to mention really.

What’s the future for FURR?
FURR’s main focus is to discover more artists who we can collaborate with. We hope to build a bigger artist base so we can continue to develop and hold more exhibitions. Ultimately we want to create products that are accessible to everyone, not just skateboarders. In the near future we plan to do some travelling with our team and release some videos. Basically we want to meet, connect, spread and keep the good vibes rolling. DIY or Die, Or Live?

You can check out the FURR website for more info.