As a lifelong artist, surfer and surfboard builder, I have kept my eyes on the Surf Art Scene for almost 20 years. This is my top 10 Surf Artists that you should know if you're into Surf Art. Although there is many talented artists out there in the Surf Art world, here are the ones that had the most impact and inspiration on my own Surf Art.
- Drew Brophy
- Heather Brown
- Rick Griffin
- Thomas Campbell
- Andy Davis
- Clark Little
- Hilton Alves
- Eric Able
- Kevin Butler
- John Van Hamersvel
1. Drew Brophy
Pretty Much the guy who sent me down the path of surf art, Posca Pens and drawing on surfboards. I came across his work in my teens, I was making art and boards at the time and straight up copied each one of Brohpy’s graphic designs. I would cut out the boards in the Surfer Magazine Board Buyers Guide with his work and practice and practice his lines and images. His work is probably the most well known surf artist out there. Thank you Drew Brophy for inspiring me for decades!
More Information At: http://drewbrophy.com
2. Heather Brown
Heather Brown has had the most impact on my art career. I had seen her art around the North Shore for years and finally was approached by “The Godmother of Surf Art” about doing a collaboration surfboard, Two Crows Surfboards x Heather Brown, I was stoked. Seeing her studio and operation for me was a game changer. I had always been making art, but from a naive perspective that I had to be dead and broke for the art to be legit. This is not the case and seeing what she has accomplished has driven me to make more art and share it with more people. Thank you Heather for all the inspiration!
More Information At: https://www.heatherbrownart.com
3. Rick Griffin
(June 18, 1944 – August 18, 1991)
The first surf artist I started recognizing. In fact I remember pulling out an page of The Surfers Journal that had one of Griffins old ads for Greg Noll Surfboards in the 1960’s. I framed the page and hung on my wall and copied his loose movements for the next 6 months. He was so prolific and captured the free spirit of the surfing subculture. A current artist who really reminds me of Griffins work is Yusuke Hanai from Japan. Worth checking out if you like Griffin’s work.
More Information At: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rick_Griffin
4. Thomas Campbell
I started noticing Thomas Campbell’s work in my late teens, watching his surf movies and seeing his art around. His script work really impressed me and made me loosen up a lot in my work. Watching his art I realized I didn't have to do it like someone else, I just had to do it what came natural. I practiced cursive script for years during college, creating pages and pages of unreadable notes of script. Campbell’s work is really fun and playful and there is a lot of funny quirky saying in his work which I really like.
More Information At: http://www.thomascampbell-art.com
5. Andy Davis
Such a surf artist. His bright colors, smooth lines and iconic images just scream Southern California Surf Culture. He has been creating for years and his work has been shown through the surf industry with collaborations with all the top brands. Just good clean fun surf art.
More Information At: http://andydavisdesigns.com
6. Clark Little
The only photographer on my list, but his viewpoint is one that surfers around the world chase every day. His work is copied by thousands of photographers now which really tells you he is doing something right. Clark Little’s success has really inspired me and gave me confidence that even though we are way out here on the North Shore of Oahu, we can still make our way in the world of art.
More Information At: https://clarklittlephotography.com
7. Hilton Alves
I mean no one else does bigger better perfect waves than Hilton Alves. Every surfer can see themselves in one of his paintings or has dreamed about it. His 101 perfect waves murals are so cool and I think Hilton is going to the moon with his artwork. What’s a Top 10 list of surf artists without the master wave painter?
More Information At: https://www.101perfectwaves.com
8. Kevin Butler
Rad Cars with Surfboards on them
“Snuggles” we called him growing up in Santa Cruz. We had a crew of guys who drank beers and came up with silly ideas in my backyard while listing to Outcast in High School. Kevin was a part of the crew (DTC) and has had such a successful career as a creator for all the largest companies. His Rad Cars with Surfboards on them is so cool and unique and I think every surfer can relate to his simple yet nostalgic imagery of rad cars, with surfboards on them. So brilliant!
More Information At: http://radcarswithradsurfboards.tumblr.com
9. Eric Abel
I learned about Eric Able’s work through the Wyland Galleries here on Oahu and have fallen in love with his loose but techy designs of waves and the surfers natural environment. His color pallet and style just go so well together and really remind me of the cold waters of Norther California.
More Information At: http://www.abelarts.com
10. John Van Hamersvel - Endless Summer Poster
Though he would not specifically be a surf artist, his work is known to every surfer. The cover poster to Endless Sumer has to be one of the most Iconic surf images of all time. The Movie poster hung in my room as a kid for years and his use of bright colors contrasting the black silhouettes of a couple surfers standing with boards makes everyone feel like they want to be there on the beach.
More Information At: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Van_Hamersveld