I am not only a surfboard shaper; I am a contemporary artist who has been influenced greatly by Andy Warhol.
Andy lived down the street from me in La Jolla in 1967 when I was 10 years old and he was producing the San Diego Surfer movie.
As I was growing up, my mom who was an artist was always pointing out Andy Warhol’s art to me.
In college, Andy Warhol was one of my idols in the pop art world.
I have been shaping surfboards since I was 13 years old. At age 18, I was at the top of my game. Carl Ekstrom, who was a good friend of mine who had sold two of his surfboards to Andy Warhol in 1967, had cultivated a relationship with him. When I was invited to New York City by Gary Binko who was a film producer, Carl told me to tell Andy hello if I saw him.
Gary’s older brother was a PR agent for the Playboy Club and invited us to the grand opening of the club in Manhattan. Andy Warhol was there hanging out with five models when I walked in with my friends. They all dared me to walk up to him and introduce myself. I was so nervous, but I did it! I walked up to him and said that we have a mutual friend, Carl Ekstrom. That opened the floodgates with Andy and after that evening he invited me to Interview Magazine and we had two meetings with each other.
Many years later, in 2012, my good friend Ben Blank came into my shaping studio and told me I should check out a website called FAB. As I was searching the site, I noticed that there were Andy Warhol skateboards being sold there. That gave me the idea to start making Warhol Surfboards so I contacted the Andy Warhol Foundation and after submitting my plan, they approved the license.
The coolest part is that after all of these years, I am bringing Andy Warhol back to La Jolla, and amazingly in one month his movie San Diego Surfer is going to be released at the MoMA. Incredible!
The Bessell and Warhol show will be at Bliss 101 (687 S. Coast Hwy. 101, Suite 151, Encinitas CA 92024) on Thursday, September 27th from 6:30 – 9:00PM. It is open to the community and will have food and drinks all night!