Matt Beard Interview

artist Beach Beach Rays board art benefit Interview matt beard Ocean Inspired paint painter painting southern california coast surf Surf Aid surf artist surf legend surfaid surfer surfing

Matt Beard’s artwork is widely recognized all over the world. Most often recognized as a prominent artist from the surfing world, it’s no wonder his art has found its way into the lives and homes of art-loving surfers in South Africa, France, Spain, Australia, Canada, Hawaii, Japan, and beyond. Matt is also an organizer of the Board Art Benefit -  a project designed to bring artists and surfboard shapers together to create unique boards that will be auctioned to raise funds for SurfAid International, a leading humanitarian aid organization. What is your name and when did you start making art? Matt Beard.  Born in 1975.  1977-1979 were very productive art years for me, then I slowed down in 1980 when I started school and had to learn how to read.  I dabbled on and off as a kid, then when I was 16, Rick Griffin passed away and I was turned on to his art through the surf magazines that ran tributes to his life and work.  That was it right there.  Art could be anything at all.  Never looked back. Why did you start making art? When I really got into at the age of 16 I was really drawn to the way art could get past the surface of things.  It felt like I was tapping into something bigger than myself.  It was quite a rush, and it still is. What are some of your favorite moments in your career? One highlight has been working with so many great artists and generous folks on an art fundraiser project I started called the Board Art Benefit.  It began about a year ago with inviting a dozen or so artists to create art live on surfboards during the Sacred Craft Surf Expo in Del Mar.  Since then we've been adding, showing and selling boards, raising over $30,000 so far for SurfAid International, a pretty rad humanitarian organization.  Just being able to do more with my art than show it and sell it feels really good.  It's been the sort of thing where it feels like I'm using everything I've learned in life to put something together that people can rally around, and ultimately save some lives.  I've learned a ton in the process, and made a ton of mistakes, but somehow it keeps working out. Then there was getting some art published in the Surfer's Journal (Vol 17 # 3).  It was a very people-oriented project that they ran, and it was very satisfying to see my local community rally around it and get involved.  It had been a distant dream and goal to one day see my art on those pages, and I thought I had a pretty good idea to create a body of work that would essentially be a portrait of the surf community where I live on the far Northern California coast, so I stopped in and pitched it to the folks down there while I was on a long road trip.  They gave me the easy let-down of sorts, said they liked it, said they had a huge back log of art pieces they wanted to run, so don't get my hopes up, and all that.  I still remember coming home to the message saying they wanted me to have it all finished and ready to publish in just a couple months.  I had a pencil in my hand and I threw it across the room, just full freaking out.  That was pretty cool too. What do you think is the future of your industry? Is painting an industry?  Well, I just paint pictures and I'll keep doing that.  I think a lot of artists get so focused on the commercial side of it, they seem to lose their inspiration to create meaningful art and it all becomes about what's selling.  I get pulled into that from time to time, but fortunately for me, I'm no good at the business side of things, so I just go back to making the art that means something to me and trust that there will always be a small audience for whatever it is I'm currently doing. If you could, what is one thing would you do differently? I'd like to surf a bit more often.  An art career, 3 kids, and a pretty radical day job (graphic design/marketing for Humboldt Nutrients) keeps me out of the water a bit more than I'd like. What is the next big project you have planned? Well, it's more like my next big project is to not have a big project. I've been up to my neck in "big project" with The Board Art Benefit, and I'm looking forward to sort of setting it on autopilot after we hold a huge Live Auction at The Boardroom Surfboard Expo on October 6.  After that, I'm just gonna work on some new art that's been stirring, enjoy life with my family, and maybe get into doing more live art in musical settings.  Some friends of mine here have been playing some incredible music lately (Likwefi) and they recently had me come out and paint live on stage at one of their shows.  - So much fun, hoping to do some more of that.  Paint as an instrument.  Not a big project really, just a pile of fun.

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