I became familiar with Erik’s art long before I realized the connection he had with the Northwest. I had seen it in several uses throughout the surf industry. From Professional Tour event posters to collaborating with major manufactures like Billabong, Patagonia and Sector 9. His art grabbed my attention for his ability to capture that true “surf” feeling and invoke a desire to live inside one of his paintings. From perfect peeling waves, tropical islands, magical sunsets, and a use of color that felt alive and playful. Then last year I heard that he and his family had moved to the Northwest. I was stoked when we made a connection and he was open to designing a few t-shirts for us.
The first design we are introducing is his Sea Lion. I instantly feel in love with it. The look on its face is so familiar to surfers in the Northwest. Once again, Erik captured a feeling that is true to our surf lifestyle. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!
The following is a quick interview we did about our collaboration. Please check it out and also go to his website and social media sites to see more of his amazing art. We couldn’t be more stoked to be working with Erik and the other Northwest Artists in our Summit to Sea series.
Moment Surf Company: Did you have a moment when you knew you wanted to do art for a living?
Erik Abel: If I did have a moment like that, I was definitely too young to remember it. Being some sort of artist was always just something I knew I was going to be. When I first started going to college, I wanted to get my masters and become a college art professor, I thought that would be the best job ever. Just hanging out with kids who wanted to be artists, encouraging them and watching the crazy stuff they come up with... and then get summers off to go travel. But by the time I had to make a decision to apply to the masters program, I realized that if I wanted to teach others how to be an artist, I had to first become a successful one myself first. It's been 14 years since then and I don't think I'll be going back for that masters any time soon.
MSC: What was your inspiration for your design with Moment Surf Company?
EA: The request to portray one "moment" as a PNW surfer was pretty endless. When we decided to go with an animal for this graphic, the face of a Sea Lion just popped into my head. It's such a classic look they give you when you're out in their territory bobbing around.
MSC: How long have you been making a living with your art?
EA: Art has been making me money for over 2 decades. In high school, I was airbrushing surfboards, painting murals, and doing logos for friends and family. But it wasn't until about the last 6 or 7 years that I've really been able to pursue my own style of commercial art and fine art only and not take on generic graphic design projects. I had a 2 year stint as a full-time art director for a start-up and that made me realize I wanted to go back to being my own boss and go all in with painting and commercial art and try to make it work. So far so good.
MSC: What inspires your style of art?
EA: My style of art is inspired by a lot of things. A heavy influence would be computer graphics/graphic design. And I also think that my graphic design is inspired by my painting, so they kinda keep cross-pollinating each other. Other styles or movements that have inspired me over the years are Abstract Expressionism, old Japanese woodblock prints, Art Nouveau, tiki style... and definitely all the cartoons as a kid growing up in the 80's.
MSC: What makes living in the NW so special for you?
EA: Friends, family, Lots of green, lots of weather, lots of water. The NW feels so raw and natural. Endless natural beauty. And the beer is absolutely delicious. It's hard to go wrong.