We recently caught up with a good friend of Dailystoke, Chris Robb, who also happens to be a surfer and a damn good surf artist. You can check out his work online http://www.chrisrobb.com/, and if you happen to be surfing the New Smyrna Inlet or up near Flagler in NSB in Florida, you’ll probably bump into him – so say hello.
dailystoke.com: So you grew up surfing in and around New Smyrna Beach, how has that inspired you to paint, and why surf art?
I have a house now in New Smyrna and it’s just a great Florida surf town. I’ve been surfing for a long time. Probably about 30-35 years. I’ve been making art longer than that, since I was a kid. About 7 years ago I decided I could kinda bring one into the other. I’ve always seen surfing as more of an art form than a sport and painting has been my obsession since college. Seemed like a natural combination to me.
My approach is more about what this whole life feels like to me. The waves, the water, the sea life, my family and friends, the people that populate the beach towns I’ve lived in and visited. I just sort of observe and take it all in and it just kinda comes out in my art. It’s just what the whole surfing life feels like to me. I’m not interested in a literal interpretation.
Overtime I’ve created a lot of characters in this ongoing story that I tend to use over and over. Not just people but wave shapes and nature forms. These are my base and give me a starting point. I can experiment with different mediums and techniques from there. I get bored pretty fast with things so I’m always trying some new approach.
dailystoke.com: One of our favorite pieces, pictured here in the article, is Oration. I see a big barrel wave, what else is going on there?
I get asked about that piece a lot. I just sold that to a good friend and collector in LA, also a surfing buddy. It started quite differently but the big wave shape was there from the start. It also has a little more literal commentary on the state of the environment than some of my other work. Basically stream of consciousness stuff. The basic message is that we all live on this planet together and everyone should do their part to help keep our natural environment safe and thriving. I live in Florida and it’s a place that over the past 40 years has just given carte blanche to developers. They are basically paving over our state and lining the beaches with ugly blighty condos, it’s pretty tough to fight. I think a little of the frustration with that came out in this painting.
dailtstoke.com: Another one of your pieces, which is actually art on surfboard –literally, is called Cronkite Beach (pictured). What’s the story behind this one?
A lot of my titles come from my life experiences. I lived in California for about 8 years. First in the Los Angeles area and then up in Marin County north of San Francisco. The board I drew that on was shaped by a guy name Chris Miller up in Marin. There is a shop in San Rafael called Boardsports Marin and I walked in one day and that board was sitting freshly unpacked on the floor. You know how it is, the shape caught me. I’ve always been a rounded pin guy but this thing was gorgeous. So that’s the board I rode out there. And Cronkite was probably the main place I rode it. That’s where the name came from. By the way being a Florida boy I have much respect for the guys that surf NorCal. It’s heavy and cold. Sent me running back to Florida looking for warm water.
dailystoke.com: What would you tell our fellow dailystokers who may be aspiring artists?
I was watching an interview with Chuck Close (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chuck_Close) the other day and he summed it up pretty well: “Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work.”
dailystoke.com: What is your favorite surf spot? and what are you riding these days?
Well my favorite spot is the one I’ve set my life up around. Right now I just walk about a block and a half down the street and I’m in the water in New Smyrna Beach. It’s just a typical Florida beach break but I’ve spent a lot of years surfing there or wishing I was surfing there. And I’m old enough now to appreciate what I have in the surf there. Although this winter got kinda cold. Might have to explore further south next winter… much further south.
My boards change with what I feel like riding but nowadays it’s mostly longboards or funshapes. I have a beautiful 9’0” shaped by Larry Mayo http://mayosurfboards.com/ , a 8’4” Stewart Hydro hull http://www.stewartsurfboards.com which is probably my mainstay, that’s a long term love affair with that board. Plus it’s bright orange with a big eyeball on it. I also have a couple of 7’ 0” shortboards for those Florida hurricane swells. But the “Eyeball” even handles the bigger stuff well.
I’ve been thinking about getting something from Fletcher Chouinard http://www.fcdsurfboards.com/ . His boards look amazing and I like what he’s doing environmentally. I’d like to go out and put some art on one of his boards.
Where you can see his work online:
Club of the Waves profile: http://www.clubofthewaves.com/artistprofiles/chris_robb.html
Facebook Fan Page: http://www.facebook.com/TheArtOfChrisRobb