Surf art is visual art about or related to the sport of surfing, waves, and the culture that surrounds beaches. 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. The intersection of surf and art realms today, however, extends far beyond art documenting life. Both have stretched to encompass each other and the areas of popular culture and commercialism. Art today incorporates graffiti, advertisements and everyday items, and surfing is as much about clothes, attitude and punk music as it is hitting the waves.
Photography is a popular and influential medium of surf art. Imagery documents life, and in surfing terms, it encapsulates a passion, a sport, and a lifestyle. The main objective of surf photography is to not only enlighten the viewer of the pleasures of surfing, but also to demonstrate other facets of the life of a surfer.
Notable Surf Artists in current times include Rick Griffin (deceased 1994), John Severson, Alex Lanau, Bill Ogden, Leroy Grannis, John Van Hamersveld, Drew Brophy, Phil Roberts, Ithaka Darin Pappas Rick Rietveld, Nathan Paul Gibbs, Wade Koniakowsky, Norm Daniels, Jay Alders, Aaron Chang, and Jeff Divine.
While many artists within the field of 'surf art' do not attach themselves to the specific moniker as creators of only surf related art. Other terms often used are 'ocean art', 'wave art', and 'art of the sea' among others.
Variations of surf art as a subject matter can fall within other art styles. Impressionism, surrealism, abstract, realism, et al.
Whether or not the general populace is accepting of Surf Art as an authentic artistic style remains to be seen. One thing is certain that among coastal communities around the world, surf art in any form is growing in popularity and price. Recently in 2011 Contemporary Artist Raymond Pettibon sold 'No Title (But the sand)' at Christies for $820,000 USD. From Christies: "In No Title (But the sand...), a wave of gigantic proportions forms a high, foamy peak against a flat, dark-blue ocean with no land visible on the horizon. Multicolored surfboards without their riders are caught in free-fall down the side of the wave. A text is inscribed at the bottom-left: "But the sand or clay to which by one or the other process we are reducible are turned to glass and foam."
Many artists have tried to encapsulate that culture in their artwork. Whether it be cave drawings by old native Hawaiians, to painters through the generations, to surrealists, to graphic designers, to sculptures and even installation artists,with many keen artists through time following suit, quite often surfers themselves. Surf art has spread from coastal areas to urban cities, such as New York, where surf culture and art exhibitions can now be found.
Brazilian Surf Art - In Brazil, an artist and curator named Fernando Bari, who created in 2004 a unique website gathering surf artists around the world, have been searching for Brazilian artist who represents the beach culture. The meaning of the community is to share knowledge, mediums and spread the surf art in Brazil. The site also keeps and promotes art exhibitions, uniting artists and keep the community alive.