How to make your board wave pool cool with artist Drew Brophy

Drew Brophy started surfing on a hand-me-down yellowed dog of plank. He advanced quickly. But the board looked like crap. Drew wanted a better looking stick. In fact, he wanted to make all surfboards look better, cooler.

In the mid-1980s he discovered Posca Paint Pens and that changed everything. Poscas allowed Drew to paint directly onto the glass of the board. This unique line-based composition broke from the era’s day-glo airbrush aesthetic and helped Drew grow as an artist and develop his own style.

Through the ’90s the paint-your-own-board movement gained traction with Kelly Slater and the Momentum Generation customising their team boards in crudely drawn characters. At this time Brophy’s art evolved rapidly and he produced some of the most iconic designs of the era, most notably with the crew at …Lost Surfboards.

jordy smith with Drew Brophy quiver
“When I painted Jordy Smith’s quiver with lions in the color of the South African flag, I designed it to look like the lion is punching through the wave when Jordy rips the top off the wave.”

From here Drew eked out a vagabond lifestyle and traveled and painted thousands of surfboards all over the world while chasing waves. In every country he visited he found a local surfer/artist to share in his Posca painting method. While most artists like to keep their secrets to themselves, Drew tells all, encouraging others to share the stoke via his paint courses.

Drew created a free intro e-course for the readers of Wave Pool Magazine. You can access it here: Drew Brophy Art Course.  Or, simply jump to the quick-hits below where Drew lists the steps to painting your board and making it pool cool for your next session.

As the Johnny Appleseed of painting surfboards, Drew travels the world sharing his art techniques
  1. PREPARATION: Clean, Clean Clean. Prep the surface of the board to avoid the dreaded ‘burrito effect’ – this is when you get a spot of grease or wax residue on the board, and you paint over it and later the paint gets sticky. This is avoided by cleaning the board off really well.  

  2. DESIGN: Be yourself. Choose a design that represents your personality and who you are.  Place the design on the board in a way that complements the shape. “Griffin Colapinto does some sick airs, so I designed his iconic griffins to stand out while he flies high over the lip.”

  3. MEDIUM: Posca Paint Pens. My favorite medium has always been Posca Paint Pens. Poscas last a long time, you can paint over the glass, and they never come off the board if you prep it and seal it properly.
  4. PAINT FOR FUN: Just do you. Don’t worry about it being perfect. You don’t need a masterpiece, just make it fun.  

  5. SEAL IT: Spray time. If you seal it properly with a clear coat, your paint will never come off. I use a clear acrylic spray to seal the Poscas. I’ll apply two coats, then lightly wet sandpaper the surface, and then I’ll add one more coat. As soon as it’s dry, you can take it surfing. And if the pool you’re surfing is chlorinated don’t worry, chlorine will not mess up your paint job. 

Here are some other links to help you get going
Posca Beginner Course + Kit
Surfboard Painting Course + Kit
Brophy Art Academy Homepage