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Jens Rasmussen
(Friday) 9.17.10

Shawn Griggs Interview

Shawn Griggs has a very unique art style:  mixing waves, life and dreams-capes to inspire your imagination.

How did you get your start in art?

I have been into drawing as far back as I can remember. I decided  at a young age I wanted to be an artist when I grew up and here I am now living my dream as planned… now if I could make the part about having lots of money come true I will be set!

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in a small coastal town in Humboldt County called Ferndale.

Have you always been into the surf art angle or was this something that just came from your surfing experience?

Thats a great question because for some reason, I had never really given it much thought until now. In high school, it was all about comic art and graffiti. Throughout college I was really into illustration and the art of children’s books, and not into painting. I had a few classes but didn’t like them at all. Aurthur Rackham, and Alphonse Mucha were big parts of my influence. They used pen and ink more than anything so thats what I did. Of course, surfing had definitely solidified itself in my life years before that but I didn’t really fuse much about the surf in my work. I used to sketch waves and draw perfect points all the time but nothing major. It wasn’t until my wife  suggested I try and paint that I started focusing on my passion. That was in 1999. The first painting was of a dream I had of waves breaking in this river under a bridge with the Hatteras lighthouse overlooking the break.

For whatever reason, a light turned on. I found that painting was WAY more flexible and colorful than drawing with a dip pen and jar of india ink, and more importantly, I had created something that had a very important part of me in it. Since that painting, almost every piece I make has some kind of reference to surfing in it.

I see some of your art has some dark influence  (Day of the Dead- Skeletons)

Yeah I guess I paint a few skeletons, huh? Stemming from Dia de los Muertos, my skeleton paintings really are all about life. The skeleton has become this great metaphor for the human spirit in my art. Kind of like “It’s not what’s on the outside, but on the inside that counts”. I am doing all these commissions of family portraits in skeletons now and they really come out wild.  By stripping these people of their physical attributes and surrounding them with what they love, I can create a surprisingly intimate piece.

Love the Oaxaca influence.  you spend some time down there surfing?

I have always loved going to Mexico and there is a ton of influence from my travels there in my paintings. Of course the culture and food are incredible but I am a sucker for sand bottomed point breaks and Mex definitely has a few of those scattered around. How can you not be inspired when your standing in front of a 6 wave set poking around some isolated point of land.

Who do you draw your influences from?

Of course Rick Griffin is an all time favorite. One of my favorite painters is Edward Hopper. His work has always captivated me. He knew how to paint drama which I think can be pretty tough to capture. But as far as what gets the juices flowing to paint what I paint, I pull influence from life, which I know might sound like a cop-out, but heck, when I am riding my bike to my studio to paint and I see something like the way a street light hits a tree a certain way, and I like it, I might paint it… or at least sketch it. Just driving out for a surf I see things that might make there way into a painting, or memories of a trip. Certain emotions or feelings are fun to try and paint. The point is, its all influential and relevant in its own way, and for lack of a better word for all that “stuff” I will use life.

What does the future hold for you?

My course is kinda set right now on spending time with family, creating tons of art, and surfing as much as possible. I obviously want to get my art out there more and plan to take over the world within the next few years.

So how is it up in the great north… getting some surf?

Thanks to Solspot, I am scoring!

Check out Red Eye Laboratories to view more great art from Shawn.


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