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.
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 such as Impressionism, surrealism, abstract, realism, et al.
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.
Surf art has been created as cave drawings by old native Hawaiians along with painters, surrealists, graphic designers, sculptures and installation artists. Many are 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.
Notable surf artists include Rick Griffin, Raymond Pettibon, Leroy Grannis, John Van Hamersveld, Kevin A Short, Drew Brophy, Ithaka Darin Pappas, Zak Noyle, Jay Alders, and Aaron Chang.
The term “Surf Graphics” is used to describe the style of artwork associated with the subculture of surfing when applied to posters, flyers, T-shirts and logos. It is heavily influenced by skate art, Kustom Kulture and tiki culture.
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.