[SPORTS] Peggy Oki (Skateboarder and Artist)
Art has always been a part of life for me. My drawing abilities were
called upon for illustration, even through my studies in biology. My
focus of interest in biology was that of studying the behavior of
wild animals in their natural habitats. I continue to carry this
interest with my love of animals, and am often able to encounter and
observe animals through my surfing experiences.
I have been surfing for over 25 years, always holding it as a
priceless and important activity for my health, and as a wonderful
way to keep in touch with nature around the sea. I often see shore
birds and sea birds and have close contact with seals and sea lions.
I have swum with dolphins and seen whales passing near shore. These
experiences, along with my love for travel, have made surfing a most
rewarding part of my life.
Inspired by the movie: "The Endless Summer", my travels have taken me
to places in the world primarily in search of good surf in warm
climates. I have been to Fiji, Mexico, South Africa, French
Polynesia, Indonesia, Japan, and Tonga, and have made repeated visits
to Hawaii, New Zealand , Australia, and Costa Rica.
In the past 2 years, I have taken up rock climbing. And subsequently
I have climbed areas such as Joshua Tree National Monument,
Idyllwild, Red Rocks Nevada, and Yosemite National Park. My travels
to these places has brought me to an even greater connection to and
appreciation of even more environments. I consider this planet to be
a gem with many amazing facets.
While surfing and climbing is a great physical expression combined
with visual and soulful experiences; art is a great visual and
soulful expression combined with the physical experience of painting.
Whether it be in my studio or outdoors in a natural setting. These
two passions compliment each other, and my attention is shared
between them to create a balance, like the natural subjects which
EDUCATION & BACKGROUND:
Associate in Arts Degree for Fine Art with Honors from Santa Barbara
City College. Freshman studies at the University of California Santa
Barbara (UCSB) were focused on Environmental Biology Bachelor of Fine
Arts Degree in Painting from the College of Creative Studies at UCSB.
Additional studies include Commercial Rendering & Illustration,
Advertising Design, Advanced Computer Graphics, Architectural
Drafting, Interior Design Drafting, C.A.D.D. Work experience inludes
freelance in illustration and graphic design, and landscape &
architectural presentation for over 15 years.
EXHIBITIONS / COLLECTIONS:
Over 40 group exhibitions, and more than a dozen one-woman
exhibitions. Over 40 private and 6 commercial collections.
PEGGY OKI - SKATE BOARDER
It might make pimply, mallrat skatepunks cringe to know that a girl
first carved up the concrete, but the fact remains that Peggy Oki
could still (thirty years later) skate circles around them. The sole
woman on Dogtown, CA's groundbreaking Zephyr Skating Team, Oki helped
revolutionize the sport in the mid-1970s by giving birth to the surf-
inspired art called "vertical" skateboarding. Her story, and that of
her teammates, is chronicled in this summer's "Dogtown and Z-Boys"
(Sony Pictures Classics), a film by Zephyr team member Stacy Peralta
that took home the Audience and Director's Awards at the 2001
Sundance Film Festival and the Audience Award for Best Documentary at
the 2001 AFI Film Festival. Jade magazine meets the woman who gave
rise to a phenomenon, and who now tempers her athletic prowess with
Were you born in the states? What is your ethnic makeup?
Yes, 100% Japanese.
What was your home environment like growing up? (i.e. your
relationship with your parents, the types of activities you did,
brothers or sisters...)
My mother made me go to Japanese language school every Saturday for 9
years. I resented having a childhood deprived of Saturday morning
cartoons. I have one brother. And we seemed to have a normal
relationship, including the periodic "Hellbent we wanna kill each
Please descibe yourself as a child and adolescent. What were your
I had an imaginary invisible horse that I would ride to school &
back. Rock fights: the girls against the boys, playing "space ship"
up in the trees, jumping over hedges on my imaginary invisible horse.
Your personality quirks?
The above. [Peggy Oki by Rebecca Louie]
How did you begin surfing?
In my early teens, I saw the movie Endless Summer, and was inspired.
Only trouble was that I had a phobia of drowning from two experiences
as a child. So it wasn't till I had finished high school, and had a
driver's license. My brother was already surfing with his friends.
And after being the big sister driving them all to the beach, it was
about time that I learned.
What was appealing to you about the sport?
It looked like fun.
The Dogtown film stresses the exclusivity in the surf culture. How
did you earn your stripes?
I pretty much did whatever the guys did in skating. I took on the
same hills and banks as they did.
What kinds of obstacles did you have to overcome being a GIRL on a
I didn't see any obstacles.
What kinds of obstacles did you have to overcome as someone who was
Being Asian didn't seem to matter when it came to being on the team.
One of my teammates (Shogo Kubo), and one of our sponsors (Jeff Ho)
are also Asian.
Did your family approve of your lifestyle when you were surfing, and
My mother never approved. She still asks me when I'm going to quit
Did that change after you became pro?
No. My dad seemed to approve. He seems to be proud of my endeavors.
He was even willing to be the parent who signed for me, when I bought
my motocross bike as a minor. Yes, I raced motocross a couple of
times. Yes, my mother didn't approve.
What was your relationship like with the rest of the guys on the
team? (ie, were you "one of the boys," did they have crushes on you,
I was "just one of the boys."
What does it feel like to be one of the pioneers of an athletic
movement that has taken such massive control over the sports world?
It feels pretty cool. It's not something we planned. It's something
we did because we liked it.
How did your relationship to vert skateboarding change after you
We were skating banks at the schools. And the contests were still
being held with just freestyle and slalom events. I got out of being
a pro before they had contests at skateparks. I left competitions
behind so that I could focus on my education. I continued to skate at
UC Santa Barbara, where fellow students were like the cones of a
moving slalom course.
How did your relationship change with the guys from Zephyr?
I moved up to Santa Barbara, and pretty much lost touch with all of
them, as they went on to become very famous.
Who is peggy oki after the skateboarding days?
I'm an artist, and an activist.
Do you still skateboard?
I hadn't been on a skate in eight years. After attending the "Old
School Skate Jam" held at SkateLab, an indoor skate park in Simi
Valley, in February 2001, I got back into it. At the event, I was so
blown away watching so many of the legends ripping the big
bowl. ...Steve Olson, Tony Alva, Steve Caballero, Lance Mountain,
Tony Hawk, S. Alba, etc... After hooting all night watching these
guys, I said: "Wow! I've got to do that!" And so, I am thankful to
Rookie Skateboards NYC, and Ray Flores of The Board Gallery in Venice
for their sponsorship. I've been going to the skate park just about
Can you discuss your environmentalism group?
I've been involved with a few groups. I tend to do a lot of my work
as an individual. And many local environmentalists know me from my
attending meetings and speaking at them. I've spoken against
increased offshore oil drilling, I've spoken in favor of protecting
open space from development. And now, with the internet, I have
dedicated many pages on my website, my online art gallery, to the
disbursement of information about a number of environmental issues.
The issue to which I am most active is that of Japan & Norway's
commercial whaling activities. Between both countries, over 1,200
whales are slaughtered each year. And Japan has been going after
whales listed as endangered species. Whales are such amazing
creatures. I want to see them left to roam the oceans in peace.
Here's a link to my Marine Mammals information page:
Here's a link to a page that covers a number of issues of concern to
Who have been your role models in your life and why?
I can't really say I had any role models.
Advice for asian women who are trying to elbow their way into sports
that are NOT like figure skating or gymnastics?
Do what you are passionate about, and pursue it as if the only thing
that matters is doing it well -- i.e. your personal best.