Belmar’s Jay Alders Takes His Art Global
Local man is making waves in the art world
By Luke Ditella
“Surf Art” has been around for quite some time now— paintings of empty waves, beaches, and palm trees. It is actually not very hard to sit down and stare at a beachscape and sketch it out. What is very difficult however is taking that setting, using it as inspiration and creating a new perception of it.
Belmar’s Jay Alders is far and away taking his view and inspiration from the ocean and creating something the art world has yet to see. His works are so tweaked, original and creative, you get lost just looking at them. There is a reason as to why Jay takes weeks, often times months to complete each piece. He contributes every ounce of his being, thoughts, love and devotion into each painting. And it shows. Each stroke of color is a masterpiece in itself.
Over the last two years, he has been jet-setting all over the world. Art shows in Australia, on tour here, with a band there. This week, I pinned down our local artist and pressed him for what makes him an artist that is in such high demand.
Jay, you have a ton going on. Bring us up to speed on your most recent events and projects.
2011 has been non-stop already. I had a 10×20 booth at Surf Expo in January which was epic. In February I did my first American TV interview on NBC followed by an in-store signing at Quiksilver in Miami. I scored the cover and inside spread of the January/February issue of The Surfer’s Path. My friends at Alma Surf Magazine in Brazil named me “Best Surf Artist of the Decade,” which was a huge honor. I just designed another t-shirt for my friend Donavon Frankenreiter as well as re-designed the newest EmergenC Blue which is coming out soon. And last but not least, I just launched a new surf art vaporizer from SSV.
How did your love for creating begin?
My parents told me they first noticed signs of my artistic interest when I was a toddler. I was a socially awkward and weird little kid. Art gave me a way to express myself and explore thoughts I had in an easier way for me than talking. By Kindergarten I was selling my friends marker tattoos. By grammar school I was selling drawings on the corner instead of lemonade. By my teenage years I had registered copyrights and was getting paid to cartoon and sculpt for a figurine company.
What are your favorite mediums to work with and why?
I’ve tried most of them over the years, but I enjoy oil painting, pencil sketching and pastels the most. I enjoy sculpting too but haven’t done it in a long while, but when I paint I often think in terms of sculpture.
I enjoy mediums that you can give and take, push and pull. I don’t know how other artists work, but my brain goes on wild tangents rather than just filled in the lines. Mediums like oil let me blend, glaze and re-paint sections over and over until my vision is achieved.
A great deal, if not all of your works consist of ocean and beach themes. Why do you draw so much inspiration from the beach and surfing rather than other places?
I have always been fascinated by the ocean. My Dad used to be an avid scuba diver and at a young age, instilled a love and respect of the ocean and sea life. So there’s always been that attraction, even before my first surfing experience. Being a skateboarder since age 3, I would draw halfpipes and Skate company logos in my sketchpads which, once I got into high school, evolved into drawing waves, bikini babes and surf scenes.
When I went off to college in North Jersey, I was removed from my hometown coastal roots and started focusing all of my artistic attention towards figurative nudes and surreallism as well as commercial illustration, graphic design and cartooning. To make a very long story short in 2001 I moved back to the beach area and began incorporating ocean scenes in my art as I re-emerged into surf culture. One thing led to another to where I am now.
I paint and draw what inspires me. Being a resident of a beach town, I am surrounded by coastal beauty and the ocean is intriguing subject matter that is ever changing and morphing along with the light that both dances upon it’s surface and simultaneously cuts through creating limitless amounts of reflections, colors, textures and patterns. The ocean is one of the most pure and seductive forms of energy, which both as a surfer and an artist will always be a central source of love, power and curiosity.
You’ve carved a very unique niche for yourself. Collaborating with musicians, surfers and even major corporations. What has brought you to such an in demand position?
It’s been a “butterfly effect” type string of events. One opportunity led to another, one supportive friend introduced me to another. Above and beyond that, I pour my heart and soul into everything I do and I hope that both clients, friends and fans see that.
I didn’t even know I had a “style” until a year or two into my career as a fine artist began. For years I’d try to consciously create a unique style or figure out what that even meant. As soon as I decided to just do what felt right, things clicked into place.
At this point, you’ve been all over the world yet you still call Belmar home. Why the Jersey Shore rather than Hawaii, Australia, California?
That’s an awesome question that I ask myself frequently. At this point, I’d say it’s just because of my immediate family and close friends coupled with a sense of comfortableness. Besides the brutally cold winters and cost of living, it really does have a lot to offer with the beaches, proximity to New York City and Philly and the mountains close by. However, I think the time to call another state home is about here.
Eventually, without a doubt I’d like to have a place in Hawaii, Australia or SoCal, those places are way more “me,” but I’m not prepared to be so far from family, so we have our eyes set on Northern Florida as the next best thing. We spent the winter in St. Augustine and have a bunch of great friends in Jacksonville and we fell in love with the area.
You’re known to put hours upon days upon weeks in on each piece. Why is that? Do you often go back and change things?
To use surfing as an example, when I see guys surf Jaws or paddle into Teahupo, I think, “These guys are nuts. They could die. Would I risk my life to just paint?”
I don’t surf monstrous waves, yet I have often pondered what the artistic equivalent would be to such balls to the wall dedication. Clearly I could take one half or one eighth the amount of time I paint and come up with some cool looking stuff and get by, maybe even still be as successful. But would that inspire people for generations? Would that show what I was capable of? Would I respect myself?
So the question remains, how could I paint in such a manner that my very mental stability and intellectual understanding is pushed to the brink, beyond thresholds even I think is possible for myself.
When I am painting one of my major pieces, I am not trying to just finish it and move on to the next one to make a buck. Go big or go home right? I do it for me and no one else. Often during the process I’ll change directions dozens of times or mentally wipe out but I get back up and push through, adding more detail, refining, blending and exploring ways to tap deeper into that zone that both surfers, musicians and artists share an addiction for.
You sell a ton of prints of your work. Do you offer the original paintings for purchase?
I do indeed offer my originals for purchase for serious collectors. But unlike many of the artists I encounter, I don’t rely on or even try and sell originals much. I look at them like my stock and I know that the better I do at promoting myself and the better I get as a painter, those originals will increase in value for me or for whomever else owns any.
Where can we see or purchase your works?
I do events and tours all over so definitely sign up for my mailing list and check out my website, JayAlders.com. I sell all of my fine art prints and merchandise on my webstore http://shop.jayalders.com. Additionally I have launched my wholesale business and have my work popping up in surf shops around the world.
What is in the near future for Jay Alders?
I’ve been working on my latest painting for the past few months and am very excited to release that. I’m working on branching out into a few artistic directions to keep things fun and constantly evolving.
Full interview seen here: http://manasquan.patch.com/articles/belmars-jay-alders-takes-his-art-global