Inspired by shadows, reflections on water and fish eye photography, Jay Alders is best known for his unmistakable surf art. A painter since three, Jay’s work, filled with idyllic beach scenes and elongated style, can be found on everything from skateboards to album covers.
An artist who grew up near New Jersey’s top surf spot, Manasquan, known for it’s big breaks and GiGi’s french fries on the board walk, Jay is making an example of just how many places beyond the canvas your art can go.
“I don’t even comprehend how people can get bored,” Jay says. A Jack of all trades, he holds his own on the waves, skateboards, snowboards, scuba dives, and is passionate about psychology and quantum physics.
Can you tell us a little about your background, and where you are now?
Proudly born and bred in New Jersey & just moved to Atlantic Beach, FL in August 2011. I’ve been drawing since I was a toddler.
What came first surfing or art?
Expressing myself through art is and always has been my main passion. I started surfing once I received my drivers license at age 17. My high school was only a 10 minute drive to Manasquan Inlet and I’d go there with my friends almost every day after school.
Do you have a creative process or do you paint when inspiration hits?
Yes and yes. It’s important to learn to tap into that magic where inspiration resides but once you are there, it’s equally important to know what to do, which is where process and technical skills dance with inspiration.
How would you describe your painting style in terms of your surf art?
I try to paint how I imagine the world could be.
What has your progression to becoming a successful, paid artist been like?
Well, I have been getting paid for my artistic abilities since I was a kid. I used to charge kids in kindergarden to draw tattoos on them with markers and had an art stand on the corner instead of selling lemonade. By my teenage years I was getting paid as a cartoonist, airbrusher, illustrator and sculptor for various companies and clients. Since then I’ve done freelance graphic/web design and photography. In about 2003 my fine art career started gaining momentum which has been completely surreal and the most rewarding chapter of my experience as a professional artist.
Back in January you painted live onstage with G Love at the Freebird music venue in Jacksonville, Florida. How did you hook up with G Love, and is painting with musicians something you do regularly?
I met G Love in 2007 while on tour with him in Brazil. We were doing a surf/art/music tour called FestivAlma along with Donavon Frankenreiter, ALO and Matt Costa. I really appreciate his friendship and support.
I did a couple live painting sessions with Donavon this past year as well as some surf shop appearances and painted on live TV last month. I’ve been doing it more and more and really love it!
What’s it like to paint in front of so many people?
Once I’m painting, everything else gets zoned out and I get lost in the moment. It’s a complete rush to feel the crowd’s excitement and to pretend to be a rockstar.
You’ve been involved with many charities including Surf Aid, Pipeline To A Cure and Surfers Environmental Alliance. How important is it for you to contribute to these organizations.
I am very proud and fortunate to have this amazing job because of the support people show me. It’s my responsibility and my pleasure to give back whenever possible.
Along with t-shirts and surfboards, your paintings can be seen on the decks of Original Skateboards. Is skating another hobby of yours?
Absolutely. I started skating at around age 3. I spent much of my teenage years on backyard halfpipes. I still love carving pools and pulling airs on mini-ramps & love cruising on my Original longboard skateboard.
Here’s a tough one. Surfing or art, which do you give up if you had to choose?
I can’t imagine not surfing. But if I had to choose… I’d never be able to give up art.
Do you have any paintings or projects that you are currently working on? Want to give us a sneak peek?
Haha.. No sneak peaks but yeah, I’m currently working on two new paintings. One is going to be the album art for Gabe Gomez’s new album and the other is going to be the album art for Echo Movement’s new album. Both paintings are really different so it’s fun going back and forth between them.
Where can we buy your art?
Thanks for asking! You can find my posters and matted prints at some quality surf shops around the world as well as on my online store: jayalders.com