Surf art is visual art about or related to the sport of surfing, waves, and the culture that surrounds beaches.
Within the genre of surf art, there is a strong connection between art and surf culture, which reaches back 3,000 years to Peru. Where some of the world's first historians carved bas-reliefs of surfers.
Below you'll find our collection of some of the best contemporary surf artists.
Bree Poort is an artist based on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii. She grew up in San Clemente, California until she moved to Oahu to study art in college. Just before graduating in 2016, she started her career in resin and now sells her art all around the island in local cafes, galleries, and shops. Her career has led her to work with Adidas in designing shoes for a women’s charity, painting surfboards and painting 30 sq. feet paintings on commission. Her resin surf art pieces are solely done through the bird’s eye view of the ocean using inspiration she captures with her drone and the colors she sees while surfing. Bree paints 5-7 layers of resin on each piece giving them a nice depth and texture under the final glass coating. She hopes to evoke the emotions of peace and clarity when viewing her works of art.
John Severson grew up surfing off the beaches of Southern California. Early on, in the 1950s he became the first person to create a large body of art relating to the Hawaii-California surf culture. Since then he has provided a steady output of oil paintings, watercolors, drawings, and prints.
In 1958, John used his art, photography, and surfing passion to create a popular surf movie series, including Surf Safari, Surf Fever, Big Wednesday, and Pacific Vibrations. His surf movie posters remain collector favorites. Severson’s art and photography have been featured around the world in magazines, galleries, and exhibitions.
Severson is the premier surf culture artist. No one has captured the stoke of searching for surf, riding huge waves, or just paddling out, better than John. He’s a true original — his works will pass the test of time.
Biography by Gordon McClelland, Art Historian. RIP John (2017).
Marc Hemeon Surf Art
“The movement of water is a powerful reminder of the constant flow and change of life. I rely on the ocean to be my teacher, therapist, and mentor — she is no respecter of persons and will serve as a mirror, reflecting all of you back to yourself, even the parts you may not want to see. And just like the greatest of teachers, her most powerful lessons are found in her challenges. I started painting waves and water a few years back as a way to de-stress from the demands of the tech industry and startup-building. When I paint, I am united with a purpose and inner voice I didn’t know existed. Painting brings me back to my center and gives me peace. The goal of my art is to help you reflect and return to your center.”
Prior to painting surf art, Marc had a long career in design and tech working with companies like YouTube and Google and starting a few of his own.
Vincenzo Ganadu Surf Art
Born in Sassari, Italy in 1973. Vincenzo Ganadu went to the Istituto d’Arte. His work is presented in different public and private galleries in Italy and abroad.
The characteristic works of Vincenzo Ganadu’s repertoire bring to mind his native land. The stupefying wave that rises, in the middle of the agitated sea, offers to the young artist chromatic structures well designed within a rich geometry of counterpoints, of tones which accentuate the color contrast of full effect.
Ganadu inserts the human figure on these backgrounds. The incisive gesture of the woman, balancing on the perfect longboard waves, animates and moves the observer because of the rapid touch of the colors made by the brush. Without the use of contour lines.
Wade Koniakowsky is one of the nation’s leading ocean-inspired artists. First, he began painting at the age of 6 and started surfing before he was 12. Eventually, by blending these two passions, he gained worldwide recognition for his surf art oil paintings of tropical interpretations.
Currently, his work is showcased internationally at numerous high-end. Often, Wade’s signature paintings can be seen in movies, television shows, and surf competitions. His designs adorn custom surfboards in Billabong stores nationwide.
With a formal background in advertising, Wade has served as Creative Director on campaigns for Fortune 500 brands, leading to more than 300 creative awards. Wade is the owner of the Ocean Art gallery in the Solana Beach Cedros Design District.
Annie Seaton was born in Toronto, Canada and lives in Sherman Oaks, California. Her surf art has been exhibited nationally and internationally.
In her words, “I’m a painter who uses photography. My mixed media artworks push the boundaries of the photographic print by cutting into the photos and mounting them into my paintings. Surfers in the landscape have remained a signature element in all my artwork — I’m inexplicably drawn to them. My art exudes emotions of joy and bliss — both mine and my subjects, captured through photography and transcribed via paint.
Through my art, I try to push and play with photography beyond its traditional limits. I train my lens on surfers and the landscape around them as subject and I try to convey deep meaningful moments of joy vis-a-vis painting expressively in my own dreamy creamy language of color”.
In the 1980s Spencer Reynolds loved surf media — the vogue outer world. Southwest Oregon was his inner world. He was a boy in Brookings, Oregon, a wet coastal bump six miles from California. This was no surfer’s Eden. Cold. Rain. Huge swells. Rocks and closeouts. Epic fishing — an angler’s Eden.
But Reynolds didn’t fish. He painted. As he still does. Sometimes in his sylvan hillside studio above the Chetco River. Other times in Semi-Aquatic, his clean midtown gallery. Or, atop a scenic glen amid spruce and spindrift.
The coast that cast him away in 2008, he returned to. For life. For family. Natal homing, like salmon to his dear Chetco.
Scott Denholm Surf Art
Scott Denholm’s contemporary surf art paintings tell a story of love and betrayal between nature and humanity. Essentially, by capturing fleeting moments of the raw power and infinite beauty of our oceans. Drawing the viewer’s attention to exposing long lost feelings, memories, and emotions of their personal relationship with the ocean.
“Everyone’s relationship with the ocean is different. As a surfer, my relationship is an erratic but balanced kinship – there’s a lot of emotions. I absolutely love it; I feed off it, it energizes me and inspires me daily. But I’m always respectful, cautious of becoming satisfied and complacent.”
A champion for marine conservation, Scott’s art helps bring awareness to environmental issues. Inspiring change in mindset away from the status quo of relentless progress at all costs.
Peter Shepard Cole
“…Hawaii’s indigenous landscape is now violated by fast-food franchises, shopping malls, and tract houses. From sugar, ranch and pineapple industries in the 19th Century, to resorts, golf courses and tract developments now, shortsighted, self-serving decisions are as continuous in Hawaiian history as past, present and future. I paint images that address this corrosive force of the consumer marketplace upon the Hawaiian geography. I find inspiration in the post-industrial architecture of abandoned sugar mills, as well as utopian stereotypes of island life used to create a false dream of paradise, one that dissolves into a rust-stained nightmare.”
Peter Shepard Cole