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Local artist and surfer involves the public in creating surf art through vision and voice

Drew Brophy, a San Clemente artist and surfer (shown here at San Onofre) hopes to inspire and be inspired by the community through a weeklong surf art project at local surf breaks and surf shops. Photo: JoniePHOTO
Drew Brophy, a San Clemente artist and surfer (shown here at San Onofre welcoming the participation of a beachgoer) hopes to inspire and be inspired by the community through a weeklong surf art project at local surf breaks and surf shops. Photo: JoniePHOTO

By Andrea Swayne

Surfing and art have been intertwined from the start. From the hand-sculpted wave sliding vessels and the artwork that often adorns them, to a compulsion by surfers to document their love of the ocean and waves in some visual form, these two creative pursuits have long been linked in the surfing world.

Surf art is a genre in itself and, although athletic in nature, surfing is often also referred to as an art—its practitioners drawing lines, fueled by the imagination, across the glassy faces of waves in glorious displays of self-expression.

For San Clemente-based artist and surfer Drew Brophy, sharing both passions with the world is not only a job or hobby, it is one of his missions in life. So, for Brophy, who travels often and extensively to earn a living as a visual artist, the opportunity for some “down time” at home offered a chance to reconnect with the community while both sharing and gathering inspiration.

Beginning on Sunday, Sept. 7 and running through Friday, Sept. 12, Brophy has been inviting the public to join him in creating surf art, through vision and voice, celebrating what’s great about San Clemente and surfing the local breaks.

He has been posting up at a variety of surf breaks and surf shops in the area each day to paint a three-panel mural and inviting the public to participate by helping him lay ink to canvas and sharing their thoughts on a very simple, yet poignant question: What is surfing to me? And for the non-surfers: What is San Clemente to me?

“I paint all over the world and it seems like I’m always too busy to do something locally,” Brophy said. “I really wanted to do something here to celebrate art, surfing and our great community. I had some time and felt like this would be the perfect week for it, in conjunction with the North Beach Art Walk.”

He kicked off his week Sunday at the pier, and then painted on Monday at San O, Tuesday at Lowers, and Wednesday at BC Surf Shop on El Camino Real. On Thursday he’ll be at Icons of Surf, also on El Camino Real, where there will be a poster giveaway from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

On Friday, all of the week’s work and the question responses he gathered while painting them, will be on display at San Clemente Art Supply, 1531 N. El Camino Real, beginning at 1 p.m. “Paint with Drew” make and take event for children from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. will invite youth to create art with supplies donated by Fredrix Artist Canvas and Posca Paint Markers.

“The two things I was good at as a kid were surfing and art but I was told that neither was important and that I couldn’t do them forever. I didn’t accept that and now that’s basically all I do,” Brophy said. “I just want to inspire people to enjoy art, to try it and discover the joy it can bring to life.”

Brophy added that part of his goal for this project is to use the sale of the murals to raise money to support art education locally.

Below is a small sampling of the responses he gathered during the week. A full list will be posted online at

What is surfing to me?

Surfing = the closest you can get to heaven, flying between ocean and air.—Caitlin F.

Surfing is my passion. It keeps me off the streets and outta jail! That’s been my motto since 14. —J.O.

Surfing for me is my life, space and all that I am.  I’m over 50 now and everyone asks what keeps me young—Surfing!—Chris E.

Surfing is the process of breathing in and out.  Surging, waning, pulsing.  It’s like life; it’s a grounding force that connects you with the rest of the planet when you are in the water.  Timeless and free.—Anonymous

Spiritual.—Aaron W.

Surfing is losing yourself and being free in San Clemente, the most beautifully chilled place I’ve been.—Adam M.

Surfing is Love.—Ryder W.

San Clemente and surfing saved my life from the grip of addiction and a life in prison.  Since I moved here, I have become addicted to surfing, got a job, and have been clean for six months.  Surfing, God and my own willpower saved my life.—Matt L.

Surfing is letting go of all the stuff that doesn’t matter in life. Feeling the salt water and sun is a little slice of heaven. No problems to worry about, just enjoy the moment Mother Nature provides. It puts a whole new perspective on life and makes you appreciate what you have.—Dug C.

Surfing is freeing your spirit.—Eve J.

Surfing means a lot to me; my dad was pushing me into waves when I was 4 years old.  Surfing is my escape. I feel totally free when I’m in the water.Logan M.

Relaxes my mind, like soul cleansing.—Ken L.

The North Beach Art Walk runs from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on the second Friday of the month. It begins at Artwistic Creations with a block party in the Holley’s Tire Service parking lot, 1225 N El Camino Real, and continues south to Avenida Pico, with receptions, parties and exhibits at the galleries, restaurants and other businesses along the way. Find out more at

Drew Brophy at San O. Photo: JoniePHOTO
Drew Brophy at San O. Photo: JoniePHOTO

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