Mark Iomal is a gifted Italian surf artist. His drawings are metaphysical representations of the underground surfing world and culture. From a sheet of paper, he pulls out snapshots that go deeper than the physical reality and are instead placed in an indefinite place and time. They’re fragments of his memories from all over the world — places like Fiji, Hawaii, Indonesia, California, the Canary Islands, and now Italy.
Here are some excerpts from a conversation with Mark about his work and his inspiration.
You are from Rome but you travel a lot, including the past few years in the Canary Islands. Is the decision to explore and travel driven by desire to discover or some other need?
MI: Let’s say that Surf has led me to travel by opening up alternatives that I didn’t know before and didn’t think about. The desire for freedom and discovery did the rest, pushing me to change my life drastically. With the passage of time, I felt the need for continuous motivations — motivations that feed my creative needs.
I was looking for a lifestyle that would allow me all this.
Are surf artists just born or do we become this? What are the things that push an artist to use surfing as a theme for their works? What is your inspiration?
There has always been a bit of art in my house. My mother loved painting but only years later did I discover the music of the 60s and the psychedelic posters of the time.
Years later, thanks to a dear friend, I started surfing, trying to convey the emotions that surfing gave me on paper. So I believe that anyone who has an artistic sense within himself and knows surfing cannot help but be fascinated.
How do you make your drawings? What materials and techniques do you use?
Today, with the pc programs that are in the marketplace, you have multiple platforms to create illustrations. For the moment though, I am still on paper.
I need this connection between myself, the pencil, and a sheet of paper. It’s a moment of my own like surfing a solitary wave; Quiet and peaceful.
Afterward, I put it all on my old laptop to give color to the design and make it uniform.
You’ve lived in a camper van for the last five years. What are the advantages and disadvantages of your experience? As an artist, is it something that gives you inspiration?
This is something that is very close to my heart. We could talk about it for hours, but I just want to articulate a concept that I think is logical: What is good for one person is not necessarily what someone else is looking for. Society sometimes imposes lifestyles that do not belong to us. We should have the right and the ability to build our lives as we prefer.
From a creative point of view, living in a camper van is fantastic for me. Freedom, nature, meetings with incredible people…It almost seems like living in a parallel universe.
On the other side, you find yourself solving daily problems that do not exist in a concrete house. Things like the availability of water, the use of electricity, and a good internet signal that allow me to keep up with my work. Social networks are a very useful way to share our work and find followers who become customers and often friends. So it is very difficult for an artist not to be part of it.
Life in a camper keeps me anchored to the things of everyday life, without getting too involved in the fiction of the virtual world.