Motherboards is on a mission to bring the faith to skate culture with premium-level boards bearing sublime Catholic deck art.
A unique line of skateboards emblazoned with Catholic art is bringing a whole new meaning to the phrase “holy rollers.” Known as Motherboards, the company puts some of the sleekest religious artistic designs on premium-level boards that resonate with spiritual skaters of all ages.
This year, Motherboards has a catalog packed with sublime deck art and an impressive lineup of religious skaters who are making their debut of board skills and spiritual commitment.
Motherboards caters to Catholic skaters seeking a higher caliber of deck art. It was started by Lisa Fixler, a Catholic mother from Denver, who noticed that her son’s friend had some less-than-savory images on the underside of his skateboard. In an interview with Aleteia, Fixler explained:
“I was struck by two things in particular: the horrible Satanic art on the board, and that both my son and his friend actually claimed they liked it. It was ‘cool’ to them. That the designs seemed to celebrate something clearly nefarious was one thing. But the fact my son thought it was cool hit me like a brick.”
A trip to the skate shop further revealed that the problem went much deeper than just one board. Lisa recalled her horror as she found deck art with satanic phrases, drug references, and sexual content. She noted that the insidious nature of the boards could wreak havoc on an impressionable teen’s budding faith.
With a desire to bring the Catholic faith to skateboarding culture, Fixler took up the mission herself, launching Motherboards in 2015. The ambitious project has already grown into a one-stop skate shop, providing not just boards, but anything a skater might need to express themselves and their faith at the skate park.
The deck art
When perusing Motherboard’s collection of distinctly Catholic decks, it feels as though one has wandered into a museum’s database of fine Catholic art, but with a skateboarder’s sensibilities. Yes, a conundrum, but a very needed one. Each board features original artwork created specifically for skateboards, but maintains the millennia-old Catholic artistic traditions. Some of the art looks suited to adorn the walls of a Roman church beside centuries-old frescoes, while other designs merge sacred subjects with the more rugged, vintage skater style.
The “iconic” moment when St. Michael prevails over Satan and “The Virgin Most Powerful” are two of the most eye-catching. These colorful, full-board designs are bound to be the envy of the skate park. Meanwhile, the slightly subdued “Sacred Heart of Jesus” or “St. Benedict’s Sword” boards provide a subtle yet firm proclamation of faith.
These faithful themes are not just suited to contenting concerned mothers. In fact, they’ve become a hit with Catholic skaters around the world. Now, Motherboards is introducing their team of skaters, among whom are several who are following religious vocations.
Father John Paul Mary Zeller
One of our favorites from the Motherboards skate team is the incredibly personable Fr. John Paul Mary Zeller, MFVA. This Franciscan Missionary of the Eternal Word recently returned to skating after a 20-year hiatus, when Motherboards sponsored his first ride. In a brief unboxing video, Fr. Zeller proves that skateboarding is like riding a bike; you never forget how to put on a show.
On the Motherboards website, Fr. Zeller recalled taking his board on a trip to Budapest, Hungary, for the International Eucharistic Congress. Keeping the board strapped to his backpack, he drew a lot of attention. Fr. Zeller noted that the combination of the religious artwork and his Franciscan robes created the unique opportunity for conversations about faith, with skating as an icebreaker.
In the video above, he highlighted the intrinsic evangelical value of Motherboards. He stated:
“To go to a skate park with something like this, with holy graphics … Lisa even told me that she went to a skate park and the skaters were like ‘Man what is that, what is that lamb there?’ That gives the opportunity for evangelization. Talk about how ‘That’s Jesus. That’s the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.’”
The most recent addition to Motherboards’ skate team is Mathias Ledum, who is from Norway, but is currently studying to be a priest in Rome. Images from the Motherboard site show the 27-year-old seminarian in the midst of a kick-flip while donned in a full cassock. Ledum spoke with Aleteia, calling the quality of the boards “on point.”
Ledum said that he had similar experiences as Fixler when trying to find a devout deck. He noted that he has seen Catholic art on skateboards before, but these often use Catholic themes to mock the faith:
“That’s why I found it so encouraging and relieving when I discovered Motherboards, because it means I can now bring what is most dear to me, the Catholic faith, into the hobby that is most dear to me, namely skateboarding. I never would’ve thought that one day I’d ride a skateboard with the Sacred Heart of Jesus one it! There’s a lot of talk today about the evangelization through beauty, the Via Pulchritudinis, and I think Motherboards is doing exactly that in a very unique and creative way.”
Ledum also recognized the vast potential to evangelize skate culture through Motherboards. He explained that Motherboards gives him the perfect outlet to “show people some of the beauty of our faith,” and to “engage in conversations about God and the Church.” These encounters open the door for Ledum to invite curious parties to “’Come and see’” (John 1:39).
“If a Catholic on a Catholic skateboard is what it takes to get some people start thinking seriously about their life and how God might be what their heart is yearning for,” Ledum said, “then I’m more than happy to contribute to that.”
As for skateboarding in a cassock, Ledum said it’s not as hard as one might expect:
“The flexibility and range of motion you get in a piece of clothing like that is highly underestimated. I probably do prefer to skate in more normal clothes though, as you can imagine what it’s like skating in all black, in hot weather.” Ledum added, “However, I do believe the cassock (or any religious habit), worn with the right intentions, can be a powerful public sign of one’s commitment to God and one’s disponibility to serve.”
He went on to note that the cassock has an alluring quality to it that draws questions about the faith from onlookers. Ledum is always ready to answer any question that comes his way, and his Motherboard helps drive these conversations:
“If seeing a guy in a cassock on a skateboard is the only thing that reminds someone else about God that day, then I think it’s more than worth it. It definitely ‘breaks the ice’ for people who normally wouldn’t engage in conversations with representatives of organized religion, and the reactions to it have so far been very positive.”
Motherboards and much more
Motherboards is on a mission to bring some much needed faith to the skating industry, but that’s not all they offer for sacred skaters. Boards, wheels, and grip tape are just the tip of this iceberg, as they also have delved into snowboards and surfboards.
Their site has expanded to provide all things related to boarding, from the gear to the swag. A wide selection of apparel will keep skaters representing the faith even when they’re not on the grind. Meanwhile outside the skate park, they can keep mindful of their Catholic values with phone cases and religious decals.
Motherboards has even come out with a line of beautifully illustrated Holy Cards, a few of which can be seen in Fr. Zeller’s unboxing. Each one brings to life another Catholic prayer or devotion. Topics range from the Divine Mercy Chaplet and the Prayer of St. Michael to the incredibly introspective sounding Detailed Examination of Conscience and Ignatius Examen and the Litany of Spiritual Warfare.