Therapy Skateboards rolls out of Hammond
At a Glance
Founder/lead designer, Therapy Skateboards
Clocking out after eight hours of sanding and painting cabinetry, most evenings Brent Coker can be found wrestling deep in Photoshop with a design that’s been knocking on his brain since before lunch or rolling fast on a skateboard he helped create.
“Sometimes you don’t even know why you’re there, but you go to the park because the energy of the place pulled you,” Coker says. “And you’re skating for about 20 minutes, and it’ll hit you, and friends start pulling up, and you remember that it’s a whole vibe there — a real community.”
The park is in Hammond, a hilly 15,000-square-foot range of concrete lines, twisty-angled ramps and deep, loopy bowls appropriately called Dreamland; designed by the company of the same name that’s been constructing top-rated skate parks all over the U.S. since the 1990s, and more recently in Europe, the Middle East and Mexico.
In the spring of 2005, the Hammond Dreamland Skatepark opened just a couple months before Hurricane Katrina hit, eventually forcing Coker’s family from the West Bank of New Orleans to resettle in Tangipahoa Parish.
Now the park is a hub for a thriving, multigenerational culture founded on recreation, mentorship, style and photography. And almost every day someone there will be wearing a shirt, hat or hoodie declaring with its design that skateboarding can be distilled to a single word: Therapy.
Coker didn’t think of it as therapeutic when he began skateboarding. Inspired by legendary champion skater Tony Hawk’s popular video games, Coker was a 10-year-old just pushing a toy around, he says. But then, life happened. Times got hard, a little more complicated, a little less safe, and one day the reason he loved the sport of skateboarding finally came into full focus.
“It wasn’t until I grew up and went through certain things, hardships in life, that I realized how much I gravitated to my skateboard at those times I felt I couldn’t go talk to others, but the board was there for me to talk to it, and talk through it,” Coker says. “I realized I was expressing certain feelings and thoughts through my skateboarding.”
In 2016, Coker launched Therapy Skateboards, designing colorful and charismatic veneers for decks built by veteran California manufacturers and sold online through his site and at pop-up events across the Northshore.
“I paint cabinets for a living, and a lot of my creativity comes from that time while I’m sanding them,” Coker says. “Creating takes away frustration, it’s like creating new feelings and a path through.”
With inspiration from SEGA games to Subway sandwiches, Tetris to transcendental meditation, and Louisiana swamp sunrises to sinuous psychedelia, Coker’s work is largely self-taught, an exploration with plenty of trial and error, he admits, not unlike anyone’s first go at skateboarding.
Since Therapy’s popularity has grown, companies and other artists have reached out. Coker calls each of these resulting collaborations a “blessing-and-a-half.”
The next phase for the brand will be a retail skate shop in Hammond — a new place that, like Dreamland, can be a hub for community and connection.
It’s making that effort as a creative to connect through his art that now motivates him. One of his favorite decks is emblazoned with “Create. Love. Inspire. Repeat.” He almost put that message on a blank white board in bold black text. Very Nike. “Just Do It.” But he decided a design about creativity should be a little more fun, so he introduced splashes of color.
“Watercolor to me says, ‘You don’t know exactly all that’s going on, but something is happening,’ and that’s creativity to me,” says the craftsman and entrepreneur who never considered himself an artist, but writes poetry and plays guitar in his spare time. “When we create things we love and put them out in the world, we inspire someone else, and the process repeats itself.”
You got your first board for your 10th birthday. Can you describe what skating means to you?
I fell in love with it. It grabbed me, and I grabbed it. And never put it down. And that’s the biggest thing I’m grateful for, I’m still falling in love with it. I’ll be at the park now and it’ll hit me suddenly, ‘This is so much fun.’
What’s your favorite piece of Therapy apparel right now?
The collab pants we did with Televisi Star (TVS), a clothing company based out of Bali, Indonesia. Big shoutout to Indra Leonardo, the owner! Every time I put them on, I immediately feel good and comfy, ready to go throw a heelflip over something or just chill.
What do you enjoy doing when not designing for Therapy or skateboarding?
I try to spend time with family and friends who don’t skate. On a weekend night I may go to Benny’s Place in downtown Hammond. But I love time with the homies doing anything. I love my tribe. I also write a lot of poetry. Part of my most recent one goes like this: “Televisi Star. It must be the pants. Or the people. Who sew the seams. Either way I salute to the ones who smack alarms. But then get up. Consistently chasing dreams. Don’t complain about it. Just working hard. Overtime. No recording. Behind the scenes. Just a heavy grind. And a lot of pushing. For what they believe.”