Local artist creates unique art using thrashed skateboards

Inga+Guzyte+next+to+her+self+portrait+titled+%E2%80%9CSuper+Rebel+-+Me%E2%80%9D+on+Nov.+30+at+her+studio+in+Santa+Barbara%2C+Calif.+When+Guzyte+first+came+to+City+College+she+was+unaware+that+being+an+artist+could+be+a+career+choice.+Now+years+later%2C+she+makes+a+living+and+an+impact+with+her+art.

Desiree Erdmann

Inga Guzyte next to her self portrait titled “Super Rebel – Me” on Nov. 30 at her studio in Santa Barbara, Calif. When Guzyte first came to City College she was unaware that being an artist could be a career choice. Now years later, she makes a living and an impact with her art.

August Lawrence, Arts & Entertainment Editor

Local artist Inga Guzyte can be found hard at work in her two-story woodworking studio in downtown Santa Barbara with sounds of electric sawing and reggae music echoing around her on a sunny Monday morning.

“Ever since I was a kid I wanted to create, to build,” Guzyte said. “I grew up around craftsmen, never had any formal training.”

Guzyte makes sculptures out of discarded and abandoned skateboards. She cuts the old decks into specific shapes then glues and nails them together to form an inlay sculpture made entirely of the old skateboard shards.

She likes to focus on influential female figures and hopes to empower other women through her art.

Guzyte was born in Lithuania and moved to Germany when she was young. There she developed a talent for drawing, painting, and skateboarding.

“I never looked at art as if it could be my full-time job where I lived in Lithuania,” Guzyte said. “When I was 10 or 11, it was all about the freedom of skateboarding.”

She moved to Santa Barbara to further her schooling but had zero intentions of taking any art classes. The first time Guzyte dipped her toes into any serious art endeavor was at a printmaking class at City College when she was in her early twenties.

Guzyte recalls one of her teachers taking an interest in her plaster and cardboard sculpture experiments.

“My teacher was like ‘Oh, I really like that, can I buy it?’”

Ever since then, Guzyte has been hooked on creating with her hands.

“It all started with my passion for being a skater,” Guzyte said.

Guzyte started working with skateboards because it was a culture she was always interested in. She said she lived for the freedom of skating and has always been interested in the variety of art on the underside of boards.

To create her wood pieces, Guzyte has hundreds upon hundreds of used and discarded skateboard decks, separated and stored according to color.

“The color and graphics are what I use,” Guzyte said. “I don’t paint them, I just cut them out.”

Inga Guzyte cuts off a small portion of a reflection piece from a skateboard to add detail to a new portrait she started recently on Nov. 30 at her studio in Santa Barbara, Calif. Every detail in each of her pieces is inlaid and not just layered on top of each other.
Inga Guzyte cuts off a small portion of a reflection piece from a skateboard to add detail to a new portrait she started recently on Nov. 30 at her studio in Santa Barbara, Calif. Every detail in each of her pieces is inlaid and not just layered on top of each other.(Desiree Erdmann)

She mainly gets the used boards from the Lighthouse Skateshop in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone. After finding the perfect combination of colors and textures, she’ll cut the board into the specific shape she wants for her creation using a mounted scroll saw for precise cuts.

Guzyte’s older sculptures are made up of bigger cuts and rudimentary shapes because she was using a simpler band saw.

“When I discovered new tools my work became more intricate and delicate,” Guzyte said.

Guzyte’s most recent artistic collection, “Rebel Women,” is on display at the Museum of Art and History in Lancaster, California, with free virtual tours available.

The collection focuses on powerful feminine forces, such as activist Malala Yousafzai, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg and artist Patrisse Cullors.

Guzyte said she draws inspiration from these women and hopes to share this with others through her art.

“I like to empower women,” Guzyte said. “To show them they can do whatever they want.”