A Surfing Alphabet
by Ollie Lloyd
A Surfing Alphabet took shape from a number of different inspirations and a long obsession with surfing itself. As an art lover from a creative family I had long been looking for surf art that appealed to me and had found it hard to find something I connected with, but that started to change when I discovered the work of the Brazilian graphic artist Tom Veiga. His beautifully clean, stylised images of waves really struck a cord and I immediately ordered a few for the walls of my home. A few years later, after watching one of the Surfer’s Journal Biographies series I noticed an advert for Surf Art, which led me to the work of the great John Seversen, a legend of the sport, magazine creator and icon in the surf world. On doing further research, I noted that he used the linocut medium to produce his own works of art. This got me thinking about linocut, which was a medium I was introduced to as a youngster. So, with images of Veiga’s clean and simple lines and Seversen’s linocut medium for representing surfing, I had a concept – to represent surfing using a simple graphic style through the linocut medium. As a family my parents gave my brothers and I a William Nicholson print from the 1830s. Nicholson was a lithographer, who originally published what must have been one of the first graphic alphabets. I now had a project, to create A Surfing Alphabet using linocut to produce stylised graphic images. As a surfer and lover of all things historical, I also have a passion for surf history, so it seemed logical to add this element into the mix too, so the subject matter of moments in surfing history and surf trivia was the final part of the project jigsaw. At the time of its creation we had a new-born son, so there was also an element of wanting to create something educational and funky for him too.
The process took about six months to complete with a lot of trial and error and some deliberation about subject matter. It’s so important to come up with something original, but hard to do that in the cases of the prints where you want to reference an iconic moment in surfing. I was very lucky to hear back from Alby Falzon about using his iconic Morning of the Earth image, which can be seen in I is for INDO and U is for Uluwatu. Also, on the Aussie front I was given permission to use Andrew Kidman’s images from the start of his arthouse classic Glass Love. This really inspired me to continue. There are some I cut of Jerry Lopez ( J is for Jerry Lopez) riding Pipeline and Eddie Aikau riding Waimea (E is for Eddie Would Go), but the photographers I contacted never got back to me, so I cannot use them, sadly but quite rightly.
On the whole the project has been received with real positivity, which is awesome and I am stoked that so many people are enjoying it.