The Art of Surf: Element x Thomas Campbell

Thomas Campbell is a soft-spoken guy with larger-than-life ideas. He grew up skating and surfing in California in the ’70s and ’80s, a scene in which, he says, exploring different forms of do-it-yourself creativity was second-nature—be it making music, taking photos, drawing graffiti, or writing a ‘zine.

Campbell parlayed the creative ethos of his youth into a full-time career—or, more accurately, a self-sustaining lifestyle. He lives in Santa Cruz, travels the world, meets interesting people, and “makes stuff.” His artistic output ranges from sculptures to films to paintings—to the the swim trunks and T-shirt below, made in collaboration with California surf and skate brand Element.

Campbell—who was profiled alongside other likeminded, DIY, oddball geniuses like Shepard Fairey and Harmony Korine in the 2008 documentary Beautiful Losers—has also put out three surf films, which are widely revered for their break from the aggro, adrenaline-rush intensity of “extreme sports” in favor of a more meditative, nostalgic homage to surf culture. Beautifully photographed at locations spanning the globe, these excerpts from Thomas Campbell’s Sprout (2004) and The Present (2009) should offer a welcome respite from your Monday-afternoon malaise:



[First video via Element; surf-film excerpts © Thomas Campbell and Woodshed Films, via YouTube. Individuals featured do not endorse Nordstrom.]

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