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Inked Exclusive: Ryan Sheckler on Tattoos, Skate Life, and the Dew Tour

Ryan Sheckler has grown, both as a street skater and out of his Tiger Beat look of Bieber-on-a-board to a stylish man with plenty of ink. He chats with before taking to the streets of San Francisco to defend his title on the Dew Tour Toyota City Championships. Watch him live on NBC or at on October 12 for Street and October 13th’s Streetstyle competition.

INKED: Last year was the first for the Streetstyle competition which employed real hazards like rusty girders and a flatbed truck.

Sheckler: I had a blast last year, Streetstyle is the most fun part of skating.

Did you have a favorite obstacle?

I really liked the car right after the big rig truck [Editor’s note: after skating through a box truck the course called for him to skate over a Toyota that had a plywood ramp over it].

You flew down the course last year, like, you went so fast I was nervous for you.

The obstacles were zooming by. If I was going to fall I was going to fall hard.

Did you plan out your tricks or did you freestyle?

It was all improv. Skating is an art form in that no two runs should be alike. I skated down the hill a couple of times and just worked with what my ankles and speed would allow.

And that carried you to win the event in San Francisco last year. What are you hoping to do this year?

I’d love to win it again, but I’m just going out there to skate hard and fast and then see what happens.

Do you get nervous before competition?

I get around the nerves. Normally I’m tight before a contest but then I free my mind, drop in, and it all goes away.

There isn’t really a young Ryan Sheckler in the game now, but if he existed what would you say to him?

Have fun with (skating and the attention), don’t stress with turning pro, and don’t get frustrated, you’ll get there.

You’ve been getting really good tattoos lately, are there any from your younger days that you regret?

I don’t regret any of them. They are from times in life whether the experiences were fun, interesting, or painful. I like them all.

Who’s you tattooist now?

I’m working with Franco Vescovi a lot of more.

Love him, what’s he been doing on you?

I’m proud of his Virgin Mary and the Jesus piece, both done in single needle.

I had no idea that you have a chest piece.

Yes, it’s an American eagle and it’s a funny story. I went to Brad Reis and wanted to get an eagle on the front of my shin. He looked at my leg and said, “Let me see your chest.” He drew it on freehand, it took 12-13 hours to complete.

Did anyone inspire you to first get tattooed?

Growing up skating and being at all the events with the BMX and motocross guys who are really tattooed influenced me. But nobody in my family had a tattoo and then my dad got one so I was free to start getting them. We all have “Sheckler” on our backs.

What makes you keep going back to the tattoo shop?

I’ll bob back and forth on my body. Like if I get something on my left I need to get something on my right to stay symmetrical. I got a claw tattooed on my back last week and I looked at it in the mirror and saw the other side blank so after this I’m going to get the other claw done.

Being a skater who hits the pavement so often as that comes with the job, are there tattoos you are worried about getting scuffed?

Both of my elbows are fully tattooed and both of them are jacked up, as are the tattoos on my shins from the board hitting my legs. But mostly I think the scars add to the look of the tattoos.