It’s no secret that at Surfd we love surf art. Over the past decade we have interviewed dozens of surf artists from around the world, both to find out what inspires them and to showcase their work on our site.
The artists we’ve met and spoken to couldn’t be more diverse. From Hawaiian surfer girls to Australian indigenous artists, from Brazilian ad agency executives to reclusive hippies – they work in a myriad ways, across the spectrum of mediums and have businesses of various shapes and sizes. How they monetise their passion differs – and for many their art takes a sideline to some often begrudged career that pays the bills. But they do all share one thing: an intense passion for the surf lifestyle and a love of the ocean.
Styles of Surf Art
Just because surf artists paint the same subject doesn’t mean their art is all the same. In fact, creative expression relating to the ocean ranges from super realism through to absurdly abstract (meant in a good way, because we love it all)!
You’ll find wavescapes, stylised surfer portraits, cartoon-ish tropical beaches, watercolours, wood carvings and, of course, plenty of wave-riding action. Deciding what kind of surf art to put on your wall is the hard part.
It comes down to taste, style and the amount of energy you want to inject into a room. Isn’t that the purpose of art, at least from the collector’s perspective? It opens a portal into another dimension, right there, beckoning you inside, every time you walk by, or sit within eye-line. Instead of a window that shows you what’s really outside, you get to choose what you wish to see. And for us surfers, that’s usually going to be something that makes our hearts sing. Something that gives us respite from our chattering minds. A piece of art that tempts us into another world – for most of us that world will be our favourite place: the beach.
The best surf artists
On one side you have the legendary Jay Alders, whose work hints at influences like Salvador Dali, yet who somehow has manages to drench his paintings with the unbridled energy of the ocean. Instead of dark, morphed worlds Jay creates scenes of vibrant motion, surfers unfurling themselves along elastic waves, and sunsets so dazzling you can feel the warmth on your face. Jay’s art will suit the large area above your bed, so you can look up and bend your surf-addled mind before you start each day.
Heather Brown’s work is distinctively flat and incredibly rich in aloha spirit. They say simplicity is the most difficult thing to achieve – and Heather has refined her skills to the point where she can turn a tropical line-up into a linear one dimensional world, where you can smell the frangipanis and feel the Hawaiian breeze. Heather’s surf art will brighten your classic beach house, meaning you can decorate in minimalist, rustic white and leave the colour all to her.
On the other end of the line art spectrum you’ll find the explosive, cartoonish and intricate Drew Brophy. His artwork lures you into worlds where giant waves cascade upon tropical beaches and surfers find themselves silhouetted by blazing suns. The work is energetic and bold, created with a fearless spirit. Drew’s surf art is reminiscent of the surf magazine cartoons of the 70s, but taken to the extreme. One of his paintings will look awesome, exploding out from the living room wall of a bachelor pad, or perhaps even swirling upon the bottom deck of your favourite surfboard.
Veering back towards more traditional surf art you’ll find Ron Croci, whose paintings make you feel the impending drop, the sunlight through the tube wall, the spray upon your face. His artwork is anatomically perfect and the characters are often smiling as they paddle into beautiful summertime waves. This kind of surf art will look great anywhere you want to add a window into hazy summer days.
One of the most popular surf artists we know is Brazil’s Tom Veiga. He burst onto the scene with lines that are so clean you feel like you’ve always known them. His scenes comprise curvaceous vector art: tubes curling towards linear beaches and the ocean dissected into its essential geometry. The colours are exuberant and fun, the artist sharing his visions of a minimalist ocean, where there is nothing but pure energy and motion.