I’ve been creating wood cut prints for a few years now and I’ve always wanted to create this wood block print of a life size surfboard. The art was printed using hand carved wood plates and water based inks. The process of making this piece ended up mirroring the life of the surfer in many ways. The consistency and violence of the ocean was emulated through the carving process. Just like ocean waves of different sizes, shapes and directions crash ashore and carving out the shape of the coastline, my knives, gouges, and chisels hit the wood planks carving out the shape of this surfboard.
The size of this art piece is significant. Like surfing, the carving process was physical and at times, fatiguing. Even the printing process itself was taxing. Because the art was hand printed all of the pressure had to come from the my own hands. A small hand held burnishing tool was used to press the paper against the board and in order to successfully transfer the image while the ink was still wet I had to hurriedly run the burnishing tool over the entire surface of the surfboard. This all out sprint and the accompanying muscle exhaustion was not unlike the feeling of getting caught inside by a set of waves and having to relentlessly paddle towards the horizon. Once the burnishing was completed and the paper was pulled up from the printing plate revealing the printed image, the feeling of joy at the success of the print, after all of the hard work, was not unlike the joy experienced at the end of a well ridden wave. I have never had such a rush of emotion when completing a piece of art before.
The significance of the surfboard image is in the surfboard’s meaning to a surfer. It is the vessel that takes a surfer into the sea. It is his object of reverence, the conduit through which a surfer experiences the power and passion of the sea. The printed surfboard shows the record of the seas influence upon the life of the surfer. The years spent at sea shown in the lines of the wood grain. The golden high moments of well ridden waves and communion with nature, closeness to God, and the dark moments of long paddles, poor conditions, hard falls and missed opportunities.
There will only be 5 prints made from this carved surfboard and only 1 print of each colorway. The grain of the wood will change as the wood swells from being washed and these changes to grain and color make each print an original piece of art.
Editor’s Note: You can see this artwork in person August 1st in Santa Cruz at my art show at Sawyer Land & Sea Supply. It can be purchased online through the Matt Allen Store.