Written by: Emily Bates
Meet Erik Abel – an inspirational artist and dedicated wave hunter. Abel has known ever since he caught his first wave at 11-years-old that he would surf and create art for the rest of his life. His stunning use of contrasting colors and rounded shapes demonstrates his love for the ocean, and passion to share it with the world.
Today, Erik Abel does just that. Not only has he mastered the skill of surfing and artistic design, he has conjured a way to mold them together as one entity full of passion and precision. Abel’s artwork is set apart through his use of iconic waves, unique juxtapositions of geometric patterns, organic textures, bold colors, intriguing simplicity of presentation and commitment to helping the surf community.
Abel finds meaning in his art by focusing on the ocean, ancient civilizations and botanical elements that communicate a sense of wonder, experimentation, discovery and balance. After graduating with his Bachelors of Fine Arts from Southern Oregon University, Abel had plenty of experience with diverse mediums such as hardware, maps, wood and even surfboards.
There was a time in Abel’s career in which he distanced himself from the realm of surfing for a different opportunity, but it didn’t take much to get him on a boat to travel the globe.
From New Zealand to the Kingdom of Tonga, then to Australia, Indonesia and Fiji, Abel dove into diverse cultures by sailboat, surfboard and sketchbook. After the long journey, it was time to translate his experiences into art by returning to Ventura, California.
“Surfing all of these legendary waves, experiencing all of the rich culture and incredible people… I felt satiated and humbled,” Abel shared. “I had finally come full circle and was ready to settle down… and get busy with some art. I had grown so much in my sketchbooks, mind, and soul. I had a fresh perspective on life and a heightened sense of artistic direction.”
During his adventures abroad, however, Abel made time to pursue commercial work through Billabong, Surfrider and Surfing Magazine. Once he returned to California, he had the opportunity to design the artwork for the 2011 Reef Hawaiian Pro Event in Haleiwa, North Shore. The incredible artwork made specifically for the event was used for on-site staging, webcast animations, advertising and apparel.
The 2012 Malibu Classic Invitational, presented by the Malibu Surfing Association, chose Eric to design the event’s artwork featuring the competition’s location – the iconic surf spot at Malibu’s Surfrider Beach. The artwork was used for the special SurfAid Cup event, in which legendary surfers such as Tom Curren, Lisa Anderson and Shaun Tomsen participated in a surf tag competition to raise money for the SurfAid organization.
“SurfAid is a great organization that I really believe in,” Abel said. “I’ve surfed the areas of Indonesia they work in and really respect what they are doing. I was so stoked when they asked me to do the event artwork and I wanted to find a way to contribute more to their cause.”
Abel uses the print that he created to help support SurfAid International by allowing a portion of the proceeds to benefit the organization.
“The art is based on a perfect set wrapping around the point at Malibu without a soul in sight… a dream would be a better description! The Malibu Pier can be seen on the left along with hillsides above PCH fading off into the distance. Since SurfAid works in Indonesia, I incorporated an Indonesian vibe into the artwork by including some designs and patterns based on several Batik from regions of Sumatra. With the print, we can continue to raise money for SurfAid after the event. It gives more people the opportunity to have a visual representation of how they’re helping such an important effort.”
Keep your eyes out for Erik’s incredible artwork as he travels the globe and continues sharing his experiences through his art! You can also follow Erik Abel as he heads to Bali for the swell and you can find his schedule of events as well.