An Artist/Surfboard Collab that Actually Works


99% of the time surfboards look better left blank.

But that certainly hasn’t stopped surfers, shapers, and professional and amateur artists alike, from butchering blank canvases for as long as polyurethane foam wrapped in fibreglass has been produced. This Bob McTavish and James Ettelson collaboration howeve—this is different.

Bob McTavish is a surfing pioneer in the truest sense. Bob lived on the fringe in the 60s, one of the highlights of which was illegally stowing away on a ship that left Sydney Harbour and landed, sometime later, in Honolulu, Hawaii. After skipping past customs, Bob made his way to the North Shore of Oahu, where he first sampled the remarkable stretch of coast known as the seven-mile miracle, whilst it was still in its infancy. Bob was eventually reprimanded by the authorities, deported, and sent back to Sydney to face legal ramifications. The judge slapped him with a hefty fine and in order to pay it off, Bob got serious about shaping surfboards, and refined the craft that he would go on to guide through the shortboard revolution. The guy’s even credited with inventing the V-bottom, which anyone who knows anything about surfboard design will know is a pretty big deal.

James Ettelson is an artist originally from Scotts Head on the mid-coast of NSW, and despite growing up surfing, was reluctant to mix his livelihood and hobby. Which is understandable, given the history of artist/shaper collabs. James’ unique mix of Pointillist mark making and pop art aesthetic complimented the beautiful McTavish silhouettes perfectly, and the finished product is just the right blend of something that feels like a one-off piece, but doesn’t overpower the beauty of Bob’s craftsmanship. The real question here is to hang, or to surf? We’ll have to leave that quandary up to you.

Want to own a piece of surfing folklore? Come browse the McTavish racks here.

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