Surf, Sun, and Brush Strokes

You’ve been painting for most of your life. Growing up, were there any particular artists that inspired you or whose style you sought to emulate?

I grew up surfing in South Carolina as a young kid in the late 70’s and early 80’s. The art that I saw in surf magazines back then was really cool. Though I didn’t know who the artists were at the time, they were a strong influence on me; guys like Rick Griffin and Bill Ogden.

(Photo courtesy of Jason Wallis)

What has been your favorite project to date?

Whether I’m painting an 8’ fiberglass eagle in Canada or spray painting vans for Escape, they’re all fun. It’s hard to choose the best one – maybe my next?

What has been your greatest accomplishment?

Being able to create a life where my family and my business and surfing are all one. We travel together, work together, hang together.

Do you believe artistic creativity is innate, generally and personally?

I believe artists think differently. They see things that others don’t see and then through art, they show others.

What is the message you hope to convey through your artwork?

That life is to be enjoyed. I want to inspire people to do what they are good at and be happy doing what they’re doing. Don’t do something just to make money; do it because you love it.

Your works, “Volcano,” “Dragon Skull,” and “Tattoo,” are in black and white. This is a drastic step away from the usual bright and vibrant energy that your artwork has come to be known for. What inspired these paintings and what is the meaning behind them?

Every one of my paintings starts out as a pencil sketch. The three you mentioned were pencil sketches of ideas that I had, and I liked them so much I kept them like that.

What is your biggest challenge personally as it pertains to making your work?

There’s no getting around it; you have to put in the time to get the work done. There are no shortcuts. To do big things, you have to sit down and do it.

As an artist what do you feel the Internet has done for you, both in a positive and negative sense?

The internet is a window to the world. It’s allowed me, and everyone else, to have a platform for all to see. It’s given me independence. The downside? Having to keep up with technology!

One of your newest skins is named, “Tree of Life.” What inspired this particular painting, and what does it mean to you?

Tree of Life was originally a commissioned painting for a company called Hinano Tahiti.

The painting is based off of a story that Tahitian’s tell about a man who grew the bread-fruit tree to feed his family and how the Polynesians have cultivated this tree all throughout the South Pacific as one of their main sources of food.

I’ve been to Tahiti many times and I’m always impressed with the gardens filled with mangoes and taro root and coconut trees. The place is full of life.

The Tree of Life reminds me of my time spent there.

What are the most important influences that have moved you as an artist?

Surfing around the world and being with my family and raising my son.

When you get a new project or idea, what happens next? Walk me through the creative process, from start to finish.

I start with research on the project to get ideas. Then I begin a series of sketches to come up with the best composition and layout. If it’s for a client, the hardest part is pulling out of them what they want; often they don’t know. After the sketch process, then I begin the painting. That’s the easy part!

What is the most challenging aspect of what you do?

Running a business in today’s world. The art is easy; it’s all the other stuff that’s hard!

If you weren’t surfing and painting, what would you be doing?

Probably hiking mountains with my wife and kid.

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Categories: Q&A with Designers


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