Last week I had the pleasure of spending a little time in Hawaii and had my first chance to visit the North Shore. I spent a day on the beach of one of the most iconic surfing spots in the world – the Banzai Pipeline. It was a “small waves” day and packed with the under 18 crowd who already were completely immersed in the surf culture. Bright colors and sleek design was all around me and I started thinking about how art & design are inextricably linked to the culture of surfing.

What first comes to mind are the surfboards themselves – branded with logos, graphics and color palettes that would help each company stand out in the new marketplace. Iconic insignias for Hap Jacobs, Gordon and Smith, and Rich Harbour all employ crisp geometric shapes and typefaces reminiscent of mid-century signage, while Town and Country’s use of the Yin and Yang popularized this symbol to the wider culture.

Then, as surf culture crossed over into the mainstream in the 60’s you were able to see the wider reach of this new surf culture in the arts. Movies like Gidget, music by the Beach Boys and the launch of Surfer Magazine. Artists were creating posters & illustrations, photographers were capturing epic shots. Both the creative community and America was having a love affair with surfing. A love affair that today has grown into a multi-billion dollar industry and continues to thrive.

Check out Club of the Waves surf blog for an extensive look at surf culture. Or if you’d like to see some epic images and read about the history of surfing, Taschen has published some amazing books. Enjoy and Mahalo!

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