How long have you collaborated with Terry Fitzgerald, and how did that relationship develop?
T.F. and I have worked together for forty years. We first met when I read an article in Tracks about colour on boards – something I had already done on my own boards. I wrote to Terry and we went on from that, to meet and work together.
How would you describe your trademark style?
My style is very much freehand, decorative, surreal and fluid. I like the art to enhance the board’s shape with an emphasis on colour and light.
What is your process? Do you make a sketch first, or do you just visualize the results and go for it?
Often customers supply picture that they want or they will describe a setting or theme. If I am creating for my own boards I get an outline or concept which is usually formed in my mind but as I paint it develops organically.
Your board airbrush art has a psychedelic feel, where do you draw your inspiration from?
Inspiration is everywhere – the horizon – the play of light in shallow moving water and deep depth – the bush, wind through trees – nature’s fluidity in clouds, colour, light, the mystery at life’s heart.
Do you think surfing and art, especifically board art, are independent of each other?
For me it’s about making art that belongs in or near the ocean – it’s certainly not just putting pictures on boards. The art has to belong to the function and lines of the board that help to make surfing a rhythmic dance.
How many boards do you estimate you’ve created? Do you ever take special commission work? Please elaborate.
Too many to count, but in the thousands. Much of my work is custom/commissioned, usually around ocean themes. I have painted huge paddle boards with sky/sea murals, eagles, whales, turtles, dolphins, rainbow serpents, galaxies and my own mystical ideas.
How many boards do you produce in an average month (or year)?
I’m still a production sprayer at Clear Surfboards run by friend Brad Robinson. We make every kind of board with many different designs which go to many countries and it is difficult to estimate the number.
Looking back over your incredible body of work, what are you most proud of?
I like to think that my work pleases surfers world-wide – that makes me proud.
Besides surf boards, what other kinds of projects have you done?
I trained after Art School to be a set designer and backdrop painter, so mural work has been a natural extension. I have produced murals for houses, hospitals and public places. I also paint canvasses.
With such an impressive body of work, is there a project you are hoping to do some day?
The idea of really painting for myself is still what I want to do, and have an exhibition even though the surfboards are everywhere.
If you weren’t an artist what would you do?