Favorite Homebreaks: When in Florida I usually surf Atlantic Beach, The Poles or Jax Pier.When I’m in New Jersey I surf mostly Loch Arbor, Manasquan, Bradley Beach and Deal.
My Surfing Roots…
I spent much of my childhood skating backyard half-pipes, launching ramps and cruising down the pavement. Even though I grew up close to the beach, it wasn’t until I got my first car at age 17 that I had an ability to drive to the beach whenever I wanted to. I’ve always been intrigued by the ocean and the coastal lifestyle though, so it was quite a natural progression for me and a lot of my friends to pick up surfing once we became mobile.
We’d surf almost every day after high school which was only about 10 minutes away from the beach. Our favorite spots were the Manasquan Inlet and sneaking onto the military beach in town. I borrowed boards & wetsuits from friends until I was able to save up for my first used board which was a beat up old Michael Barron Thruster 6′ 3 1/2”. It had an obviously repaired broken nose, neon 80’s colored logo and it had already yellowed by the time I acquired it. It wasn’t pretty, but it was my first board and I still have and cherish it.
Artist in the Making…
As a child, I seriously sucked at team sports, I was socially retarded and an emotional mess. Art was how I’d express myself, escape reality and dream. When I felt alone or depressed, I’d get lost in my head, lock my door and draw. There were times my parents thought that I was on drugs because I was so bizarre, but after they snuck a drug test into a routine physical, they acknowledged that I was just a bit different than other kids.
A quick glance at my childhood sketchbooks would show doodles of army men and ninja’s and drawings of my family. As I got older I drew skateboarders busting airs, cartoons and waves. By my college years, I was exposed to thousands of years of art history and my artistic literacy sprouted. I found myself breaking free of my typical patterns. I started stretching and stylizing my subject matter, seeking to find that delicate balance between simplification and detail. Desperately looking for something I could claim as my own style without much success.
I didn’t even know I had a “style” into probably seven years ago. I remember talking to someone and they referred to a new painting as very “Alders”. Looking at them rather puzzled, I began to acknowledge that perhaps in my abandonment of ego-based expectations that something special was starting to show.
My parents tell me that I first started showing signs to them that I liked to draw when I was old enough to hold a crayon. I would draw on everything from restaurant placemats, walls, napkins and books. They always supported me to chase my dreams of becoming a professional artist.
My Dad had his own business and I grew up learning about sales and marketing. My mom would bribe me to go to the dentist as a child with buying me art instructional books at the art store afterwards. I also had an occassional mentor of my Dad’s childhood best friend, Marshall Cetlin who was a professional artist and art director in Manhattan. He’d often bring me art supplies and show me his work. I never was exposed to that popular paradigm that being a professional artist was a far fetched career ambition.
Other Artistic Passions…
A friend of mine refers to us as being slashes. To make a living in the arts you often need to be a this, slash that, slash this, slash that. I agree with that philosophy and have lived and breathed that eclectic existence throughout my entire art career.
It wasn’t until the past 5-6 years or so that I’ve been able to focus solely on my painting. I did caricatures and airbrushing for fifteen years throughout college and afterwards. I also did a lot of freelance work and running other businesses and took whatever came my way. I love learning new mediums and experimenting with techniques and became rather proficient in many of them over the years, each of which helped me pay the bills and has contributed to how I see the world.
I got my first copyright when I was probably 13 or 14 for a cartoon character named Earl. When I was probably around 15 or 16, my Dad convinced a company that I could do figurines. You know, like the little cheezy sculptures you see in stores. I had never sculpted in any serious manner before that, but I took the challenge and taught myself and ended up doing a series of wildlife figurines and Santa Claus ones that ended up being sold in stores. Knowing how to create in terms of three dimensional space is so vital as a painter.
I shot photos semi-professionally for a number of years, mostly models, musicians and nature. Photography really helps to train your eye and learn about the physics of light and perspective and how to best capture the form.
I learned graphic design in college and also taught myself HTML when the whole internet thing was new. I became a Photoshop and Illustrator nerd and really love doing digital work. So much of my work starts out as solid composition with graphical elements.
I’ve designed package illustration for Emergen-C, Ted Shreds Candles and Life’s Lemonade. I did shirt designs for Billabong and Donavon Frankenreiter and design my own apparel line now. I have a line of longboard skateboards with Original Skateboards, surf art sandals and a newly released custom jewelry line which I designed. In Spring 2013, I have a couple of eco-friendly swimsuits being released with, Koru Swimwear whom I recently partnered with. I thoroughly enjoy keeping variety in both my paintings and projects, it keeps me loose and makes work more fulfilling and challenging.
3 favorite Pieces…
It’s so hard to choose just three since they all are a sincere expression of me. But the first ones that come to mind are:
Right Past the Light – Even though I did my first paintings of surfing when I was a teenager, I consider this my first serious surfing painting. I completed it in oils on wood in 2006 and it has been the pivotal point for my career as a surf genre artist to launch from. The layback is one of my favorite maneuvers for skating and surfing and I felt compelled to create this piece when I set forth to paint a surfing piece shortly after moving to the beach. The title has several meanings. Firstly I was living on a busy corner and to get to my driveway you had to make a right past the light. Secondly, the light is symbolic of the spiritual energy that I was in need of, I was going through some rough transitional times. Thirdly, the most obvious perhaps, the surfer is taking a right past the light at the wave.
Left Behind the Wall – I did this piece knowing that it would be going on a limited edition surfboard for a company in California in 2008. I had three months to do it and decided to paint it almost to size on wood. People ask me if it’s suppose to be me, I tell them it’s my alter ego that can actually surf the heaving waves of Teahupo’o. I’m most proud of this piece for the amount of detail and perfectionism that I sought to achieve which can only be appreciated by examining the piece up close. There is a lot of hidden imagery and symbolic references in the ripples and subtle nuances of light in each water formation.
The title of course refers to the left the surfer is taking behind this massive wall of water, but also it metaphorically represents the walls we need to move past in life in order to overcome.
Beaming with Abundance – I was working on my painting “Sweet Aspirations” at the time, but when I came to the studio, it was too wet to work on. Feeling inspired, I grabbed a 24”x48” panel I had leaned up against the wall and put it up on the easel. I started painting with no plan, no sketches, no concept in mind, just inspiration. I didn’t know what I was going to paint, I just knew that it felt magical. I remember feeling so much gratitude, appreciation and love and I hope it shows when people see this painting. The title says it all.
My Art Style Is…
My art is a visual interpretation of my spiritual connection with the Universe. The artwork I create is a glimpse at my most genuine and sincere effort at describing the visions and emotions that flow through me. Stylistically I’m influenced but not restricted to surrealism, impressionism, classical and renaissance painting techniques. I hold my brushes with integrity and direct them towards love and hope to inspire others to feel connected and empowered.
I am proud to have released a line of eco-friendly iPhone cases with 15% going to Kokua Foundation and Surfer’s For Cetaceans. I am an international ambassador for Surf Aid International and donate a lot to other organizations I support. I think it’s a responsibility for us to offer love to the community and the environment and speak out for causes that we feel connected with and empathetic of.
The most important goal for my art career is to make art that I am proud of. Art that shows a clear evolvement of style and technique. Art has a long legacy of influencing, inspiring and connecting people, I am just appreciative to have a part in such a noble pursuit.
Reach Out To Jay…
Official website: www.JayAlders.com
Buy Prints,Apparel and Merchandise: shop.JayAlders.com
<< As seen in the Winter/Spring 2013 issue of WSSM – Women’s Surf Style Magazine