The Biggest Secret in Surfing? Meet The Anonymous Street Artist The World’s Best Surfers Adore
The Banksy of surfing: this man follows the World Tour and paints illegal murals on the way...
Inspired by the surf legend that is Larry Bertlemann, BERT is the anonymous artist behind a collection of street murals based on the ASP World Surf Tour.
In the same way that Bertlemann brought the street culture to surfing through his skating manoeuvres on the waves, BERT is taking surfing to the streets.
Stoked by all things surfing and funded out of his own pocket, BERT follows the tour and paints a street mural for each one - hoping, a) not to be caught and b) to use his paintings to speak to the surfing community.
“I grew up in the streets as a skate punk and on the beach as a surf rat. Growing up pushing horse shit on a mid-west farm would be the perfect start for a BERT documentary, but that is not the case. I've lived on the coast my entire life," he told Mpora.
“Surfing runs deep. Unfortunately my home town was not supportive of the skate scene. I was forced to quit skating or learn how to get away with it."
"Over time I learnt how to hit the spots I wanted while slipping into the shadows when I needed. I carry that knowledge over to my street art."
“I don't do graffiti. Where graffiti is freehand, street art is more graphic design orientated using stencilling, stickers and wheat paste."
“Fortunately for me I have a solid background in traditional art which allows me to illustrate stencil reference rather than relying on photos."
“I started the ASP World Tour murals because I am stoked on competitive surfing. Plus, the live webcasts allow me to watch epic waves from all around the world when I am stuck in front of the computer."
“I sketch as I watch. Sometimes ideas come at that exact moment but it's mellow and never rushed."
“Every contest winner is painted. It's at the point now when the boys on tour look forward to a trophy, some cash and their mug painted in the streets."
"I have a shitload of ideas just waiting for some of the others to win their first fucking contest! I wish Taj would win a fucking title."
"I have a shitload of ideas just waiting for some of the others to win their first fucking contest!"
"I'm stoked that Medina won 2014 in a manner that buried any doubts about his ability."
“It seems now like I've done a shitload of ASP murals. I've successfully made it through two years with at least one piece per contest. I'm up to somewhere around 35 pieces."
“The location is the most important part. I look for blank canvases that house the art comfortably. You want ample exposure to passers-by, but also want to avoid the buff-man."
“The best locations are found in the grey area. That place between in-your-face and never-being-seen."
“There are some epic graffiti covered slabs of concrete leftover from battles on the French coastline that would be epic to paint a piece on. I see them every Quiksilver Pro France and dream of the opportunity to surf and paint there."
“Most my pieces are painted over, but some are still riding. It's the nature of the game."
“I’ve never been caught. But, there are surfers who agonize over every heat and there are others who just say fuck it and surf as if they were the only person on the beach."
"If I was the latter, I'd be done for. My shit is on lock. If millions of eyes are open, I'm going to be visible during the blink."
“I choose my locations based on the community. I am not going to put up a piece of a dude wearing a pink jersey standing atop a pile of severed heads with a tiki, a wood dagger and Kelly Slater's head in hand in bum-fuck Idaho."
"The community would be completely confused. I choose communities with ties to surf industry and culture."
“Because people interpret art differently: if someone sees my work and is stoked, good for them. If another sees it and pukes, that shit will go viral on the internet. At the end of the day, I am an artist working his ass of."
“I really don't hear much negativity though. I see pieces that ride for a long time. That tells me the public, or at least the property owner, is into it."
"Vandalism is an outdated term that needs a new definition. I am not rewriting the rules, just adding footnotes. My voice can be loud if done right."
“The internet has allowed artists from all over the globe to expose others to their work. The fan base and culture is incredibly connected."
“I've sat back and watched people show up to my pieces minutes after posting photos on Instagram. They take their own photos and post them and before I know it a fucking snowball is tumbling down the highway 101."
“It's pretty sick that people appreciate what I am doing."
"During the first year of the project Dustin Barca hit me up after I put up a piece of him knocking out a dirty Monsanto executive. We met up and I painted the piece on his house."
"The boys on tour are stoked by it.It's pretty rad and I appreciate when they reach out. I also thing its pretty rad when WSL fans reach out."
"Those who are really stoked on the tour, or just surfing in general, identify with my art, and my stoke on competitive surfing."
“I definitely feed off my fans and I’m super amped on all of their positive vibes."
“But really, I just want to travel the world surfing and painting. I am just looking to paint the endless canvas…"