...Local Artist, Surfer & Friend
Andy Davis has been an influential force in the surf art scene for decades. His paintings are in art galleries and private collections around the world and his murals are on display throughout Southern California, where he’s spent most of his life surfing and designing. But since we’ve known him, it’s pretty clear that what makes him stand out amongst the crowd isn’t just his understated natural talent, but his authentic and unfiltered passion for doing what he’s doing—making art he loves and sharing it with the world.
Working with Andy to bring Sun Bum Skin Care to life has been an incredible experience and a total dream come true for us. We caught up with him in his in-house studio, at our HQ in Encinitas, to hear a bit more about him and the story behind his designs.
Q & A with Andy Davis
This office-turned-art studio would really just be an empty room with 3 ½ blank white walls if it weren’t for Andy. But because of his obvious stoke for art, music and the ocean, everywhere you look is cool. Some of his sketches are lined up on the wall to the left as you walk in, a colorful quiver of surfboards is tucked up into a lofted nook to the right just above his desk, and a custom snowboard shaped by Gerry Lopez is on deck in the middle of the room, surrounded by bunch of paint testers. Never really thought that a blob of black and yellow paint on a Sonny coaster would ever be worth mentioning, but leave it to Andy to make that look rad. We grabbed a few roll-y office chairs from the main office and sat down to chat.
How’s it goin Andy? Thanks for meeting up with us! We’d love to hear about some of the inspiration or guiding light behind your artwork for our Skin Care line?
Growing up I was often told “no you can’t do it that way—that’s not right.” But that’s BS. Art has always been an escape for me to do things the way I want to do them. You’re always figuring things out as you go, but I think staying true to what you wanna do and how you wanna do it helps actually makes those things happen in the end.
I want to do something that not only makes people smile but also goes against the grain in a way. If they stop to check out these designs and it makes them feel good, that’s something. Back in the day there was this exciting sense of discovery with finding things and products you really wanted, which seems to be making a comeback in a cool way. Good music and good art are bound to come out of really owning the things that make each of us unique. I think that draws people in, in a real way.
Love that. Are there any random Sun Bum memories you’ll never forget (even if you wanted to)?
I had one thing happen that really freaked me out. I was coming into work early one day to get ahead on some stuff and I came through the side door and the alarm went off. It was so f@#%ing loud and I just screamed. That moment of sheer panic hit, you know? But I finally got it figured out in time before it called the police which was good.
Ya, that’s definitely happened to a couple of us too… except the police actually came once. Do you happen to remember when you first fell in love with art or have something in particular that inspired you to wanna become a professional artist?
I think watching cartoons when I was little was when it first hit me. The old Charlie Brown episodes were just so good. Slow paced, had a deeper meaning without forcing it, and the muted color palette was just rad. Oh, and the music. That’s also where I first fell in love with jazz.
Vince Guaraldi is a musical genius. Big fan. So, we know you love to surf—are you a goofy or regular foot? Do you have a board of choice right now?
Goofy foot. I have a 7 2” Mandala pintail twin fin that I’ve been riding, and I absolutely love it. I can’t stand crowds and it works really well in small, crummy waves which is perfect. You have to move your feet a lot which keeps it fun too, as long as it’s clean. That’s been the one for me.
We notice you leave the faces open on the people featured in your paintings, why is that?
I think keeping the emotion or expression of people in my paintings blank leaves room for whoever sees them to decide what it means to them. There’s a freeness there. How you might feel when riding a wave is different from how I might feel—it’s very individual to each person. And it’s not really my place to define that feeling for everyone.
If you were stranded on an island in the middle of the pacific like Tom Hanks in Castaway, what are 3 things you’d absolutely want to have with you?
The Idiots Guide to Survival and 2 friends who knew how to hunt and build things. I don’t even know if the book would help me much, but I would definitely need a couple friends who actually knew what they were doing out in the wild. Could I become a shapeshifter? If I could, I’d just turn into a fish or somethin’ and just swim away.
This is probably pretty hard to answer, but if you could pick a musician/band to play at your next art show, who would it be?
Miles Davis or Jimi Hendrix. Wish they were still around. Still jamming, I’d have to say Stereolab. Was going to see them live in the desert last year before all the craziness hit. Still on the list to see them play.
You drive that classic Volvo that’s parked out in the lot, ya? What’s her story?
I bought it from a guy who specializes in classic Volvos. His name is Lou and he lives up the road. He’s got a whole yard full of old cars. He sources parts from all over the place and I’ve bought 5 cars from him over the past 15 years.
I told him I wanted a 70’s or 80’s station wagon and he didn’t have one but showed me this thing and I just loved it. Plus, I thought it would be the perfect car for my son Noah (who’s 16) to drive around someday. Still on the hunt for that retro station wagon though.
You seem like a fan of the classics. What’s your fav dinosaur?
Pterodactyl. They could fly.
If you could paint anything in the world (if logistics and following the law were thrown out the window), what would you paint and why?
It would be really cool to paint a school for kids somewhere super remote. Like create a sort of Disneyland for them. I would paint the basketball court, the classrooms… all of it designed for little kids to just play around and let their imaginations run wild.
So, you know Metallica Fridays are kinda big here and we just gotta know… what’s your all-time favorite Metallica song?
Good one. Love that Dave Mustain randomly decided to put some Lynyrd Skynyrd in the middle of that song just to mess with people. Ok so sadly, this is the end. Do you have any parting words of wisdom for all the budding artists out there looking to get started in the professional art scene?
I’d tell ‘em to just do it no matter what—always find a way to make your art happen. Whether you’re gonna try and make a career out of it, that’s another thing …you gotta do it because you love it. If you believe in yourself and you’re passionate, you will be successful. Just be in love with what you’re making.
There ya have it, the legend has spoken. Thanks again for takin’ the time to talk with us Andy, and for everything you’ve done to bring our Skin Care line to life.
Check out more of Andy’s designs on social @andydavisdesigns