Andy Davis

Encinitas, California


Southern California Surfer Andy Davis is one of the most stoked and passionate people you will ever encounter. And his art is an extension of the electric enthusiasm he has for wave riding and the culture that surrounds it.

When asked to describe his work he doesn’t have anything cryptic or lofty to say about it, he keeps it mellow as always: “There isn’t any attitude, and it’s not confrontational,” says Andy. “It makes people smile, or laugh, but mostly I hope it just makes them feel good. Surfing and the culture of cool around it can get too serious sometimes. That’s the last place we need that kind of attitude. It’s our sanctuary.”

Over the past two decades Andy was the driving force behind several successful surf brands like Free, Byrd and Ando & Friends, all of which featured his art. Today he has a brand that embodies the spirit of his art called Andy Davis Designs.

During the late 90s, Andy began to hang out a lot with cultural icon and world champion longboard surfer Joel Tudor, which ultimately had a big impact on Andy and his perspectives on surfing.  “Hanging out with Joel Tudor exposed me to so many amazing things I never would have been turned on to, like riding old-style single-fins, twin-fins, and logs,” he says. “Meeting people from his world like Matt [Howard], Britt [Leonard], Jimmy [Gamboa], Dane [Peterson], and more—all had a huge impact on me.”

 The simple, clean line surfing those kids were doing during the late 90s shifted Andy’s perspective and interests in surfing toward new direction and meaning. Having already traded his potato chip thrusters for heavy logs, eggs, and fish boards, his imagery began to embody the lines of traditional surfing, as opposed to the fins-free, WCT aesthetic.

“He does a lot with what appears to be very little—mostly just lines,” explained writer Matt Warshaw, who coached Andy and Andrew Kidman on their book project, Way of the Bird. “But really, that’s the hardest thing, like hitting one perfect sustained guitar note to create a mood, instead of jamming out three dozen notes, which basically says nothing except, ‘Look at me and how fast I’m playing.’”

 The often faceless subjects in Andy’s work represent a universal interpretation of the basic moments and clean lines (no matter what board you’re on) found in our collective surfing experiences: waxing up, paddling out, hooting at a buddy’s ride, being locked in the pocket. The surfers in his art could be me, or you, or Andy, and that’s what makes his work a wonderful shared experience for viewers.

 “Andy’s art exemplifies surf stoke more clearly than anyone else’s,” says artist Thomas Campbell. “I think that’s why people identify with his work. Looking at a lineup from the top of a hill or observing some faceless humanoid simply getting tubed from a cool, non-invasive perspective. That’s what surfing is about, not all banners and bullshit.” —DEVON HOWARD


Served to Perfection

Simmering Into The Night With The Venerable Andy Davis

The "Cooked Just Right" show with Andy Davis was probably one of the most rewarding experiences we have had putting a show together. Andy spent four weeks at SAID Space as an artist resident culminating a rich and vibrant collection of his latest work.  

Each morning armed with stealthy playlist and a frisky cup of coffee, Andy's approach and passion is elevated for the creative journey ahead. Everyday smiles, positive attitudes and eclectic groovy-funktown tunes are center stage at the studio. The amount of work Andy develops in a 24 hour period is quite remarkable. Over the course of a month Andy created over 30 original artworks in the studio. When early evening rolls around it's not uncommon to embrace a couple ice-cold Modelos aka "Working Beers" coined by Andy Davis (and not to be confused with) IPA's aka "Show Stoppers" as Andy confidently explains. The process of putting a show together is hard work, the days turn into nights and with no clear distinction between the two. It seems the sun doesn't really go down, it's just an illusion of the world spinning round but when you mix the warm and inspiring vibe of Andy it feels effortless and free.  

The pure and improvised spirit of creating in the moment draws some venerable energy into each piece. In looking at Andy's new work you immediately notice the saturated color palette and loose line work you would expect at any Andy Davis show. The absence of any surfboard is an interesting aspect of his latest work however, the concept is very apparent. Definitely an exploration of styles you can clearly see.

The day of the show everything really starts to take shape and like every show, you're never really ready until the last absolute last second when that door opens and the night begins. Every part of Andy's residency seemed to somehow unfold as it should. Amazing friends and family came to support and collectors came cash in hand. Overall a wonderful experience and the show came together like a home cooked meal and was served just right. It's all about the journey with Andy. Thanks for making hanging out with you so much fun!