(As seen on www.shoestringventure.com – published on July 15th, 2010)
Internationally acclaimed surf artist, Jay Alders, has spent years celebrating the world and communities he loves. Recognized by ESPN, FuelTV, Eastern Surf Magazine, among other prestigious media outlets for his distinctive surrealistic style and self-taught techniques, Alders finds inspiration in the gritty sand between his toes, finesse and style of the waves, as well as the overall life around surf communities that color his days. The serenity and ease that Alders gains from his fruitful life have helped transform his career and philanthropy into a lifestyle that inspires others to engage actively their passions and voices by giving back to the communities that support them.
The New Jersey native cannot remember a time in his journey without art and surf culture. Alders grew up in Howell, New Jersey, a suburban town 10 minutes from the Jersey Shore. He is a self-proclaimed, “beach baby,” who sees each person’s importance in the global community. As a college student, he moved to Northern Jersey and attended Montclair State University. During this time, he began to play with the relationship between avant-garde style, human body shapes, and his emotions. As he began to develop his own perspective, he realized the power of his voice and wished to inspire others in the same way great artists like Salvador Dali and MC Escher, in particular, have influenced his own point-of-view.
Though his philanthropy has substantially grown with his journey, Alders marks his socially conscious lifestyle as beginning at age 16 when he became a vegetarian. As a person who feels very in tune to his relationship with nature, he says, “I’ve always been a person that felt a connection with animals and I had a cousin that was vegetarian. My cousin helped enlighten me and showed me that a vegetarian lifestyle was more humane and healthy.” Alders, now a vegan says, “I switched to a vegan lifestyle after learning of the horrific methods in which animals are produced like products. After witnessing the torturing and inhumane treatment taking place against millions of animals every day, I could no longer be a part of it. Certain things in life, you just can’t un-know or un-see.” Alders practices what he preaches by getting involved with animal activist groups such as PETA, Lilo’s Promise, NORML, and the ASPCA to name a few. He mirrors the ideologies of these groups in his lifestyle choices, but also in the emotions that he uses to generate new projects and artistic expression. For Alders there is no separation between giving back and his career; the two exist in an equal sphere.
In 2009, Alders heartfelt philanthropy inspired SurfAid International to name him an official SurfAid Ambassador with whom he continues to create awareness for impoverished surf communities. SurfAid International is non-profit humanitarian organization that seeks to improve the health of people living in isolated regions connected to the surf community. When describing his passion for humanitarianism he says, “SurfAid International is a good charity because they give back on a human level to a community where surfers dwell, particularly third world countries where people like us can go and enjoy nature.”
Alders hopes to promote social change by helping to create an active global community with various equal viewpoints. He recognizes the importance of helping others and uses these principles to organize and create events, like S.A.M. JAM, held last weekend, an event that brought together skateboarding, art, and music, while raising money for SurfAid International. With the help of The Pit in Kill Devil Hills, NC and Original Skateboards, who features his art on their line of pintail longboards, Alders raised money by encouraging people to do things they enjoy: listening to music, skateboarding, and appreciating what the surf community offers to those around it. In 2008, Alders helped create a similar charity concert event, ZIMZALA, in New Jersey, which also raised money for SurfAid International. ZIMZALA raised $13,000 and showed 700 people a great night with an explicit theme of philanthropy and giving back. Alders has also donated his work to help raise money for Surfrider Foundation, Surfing Heritage Foundation, and The V Foundation during the 2008 X Games.
Alders not only works with global philanthropist groups; he also helps his local community by participating in Big Brother Big Sister events, giving art lessons, and blogging about artistic perspectives. Alders feels that nurturing artistic expression is a great way to allow people to realize their own passions, while also giving back to those around them. Alders reveals, “At an early age, I started reconciling the importance of my role as an artist in society. I learned of war heroes and people with big titles. I pondered what significance my art could possibly have in the bigger picture of society. I now acknowledge that those of us who take a path less traveled as career artists have a responsibility to inspire others while expressing ourselves. Creating artwork and sharing the unique mindset that an artist has is my way of unselfishly spreading the momentum of love, awareness and appreciation that flows through me.” By strengthening the voices of those that live in the regions SurfAid helps as well as his local surf community, Alders’ humanitarian efforts seek to promote social change that allows all people to have equally active voices.
Alders sees philanthropy and social progress as a natural progression to an entrepreneurial journey; he says, “Use your morals and inner strength to guide your decisions towards a compassionate path. Being a successful business owner is not only measured by profits, but also by the integrity you live by and the inspiration you can share.” In Alders’ world there is nothing better than creating a space, whether on canvas or in life, where philanthropy and passion coexist.
Alders seeks to encourage enrichment to surf communities by promoting moral and social responsibility through his humanitarian efforts and by inspiring others with his art. He says, “the more I acknowledge that I have a voice, I find it important for me to educate myself and feel the importance that our generation has to offer.” By participating in global organizations like SurfAid International and juxtaposing it with local chapters of Big Brother Big Sister as well as local community events, Alders uses his success to help others realize their importance in global and local communities.
Though Alders seems to be everywhere these days, from Australia to Brazil, and back to his home state of New Jersey, you can find him on a national tour with UGG Australia starting October 28 to December 12. For more information, surf over to JayAlders.com.
By Gabrielle Nickas