Butch Cornelius’ Surf Artwork Record | Art Conquer

You might hardly ever have heard his identify but if you are a surfer — significantly a surfer of a particular age — you have absolutely viewed Butch Cornelius’ function. Raised alongside elite surfers and surf artists of his working day, he brushed versus fame nevertheless never ever truly had it. However, the aesthetic of the former graphic artist, who now life and helps make artwork in Eureka, echoes in the browsing environment currently.

Clifford “Butch” Cornelius grew up in the Pacific Beach front group of San Diego. A basic SoCal surf-and-skate neighborhood, it is popular for generating both the very first popular polyurethane surfboards by Gordon and Smith Surfboards (or G&S as the business is broadly recognized), as effectively as several proficient surfers.

Cornelius used his formative yrs playing in Mission Bay, gravitating to stand-up browsing in 1958. His social circle provided the likes of Butch Van Artsdalen — identified as “Mr. Pipeline” for his prowess surfing huge waves at Pipeline in Hawaii — and Mike Hynson, renowned surfboard shaper and star of the cult typical documentary The Infinite Summertime. Together with surfing, Cornelius honed his inventive skills early on. He mingled with a little bit more mature surfers who were being cartoonists and style experts, like Mike Dormer who developed the legendary Incredibly hot Curl surf cartoon.

By the time he hit substantial college, Cornelius was an avid cartoonist, promoting his operate to children on the playground. Throughout his sophomore 12 months at Mission Bay Large School, he obtained his very first major artwork breaks. “When I was in 10th grade, Hobie opened their shop in Pacific Seashore,” he explained. “When the store opened, Butch Van Artsdalen requested if I could sell my drawings there.” With that, a vocation was born.

Cornelius manufactured a title for himself about Mission Bay with his one-sheet comics. He also started off silk-screening T-shirts for both equally Hobie and Surfer magazine out of the shop’s again area. In 1962, as SoCal’s surf scene grew, Pacific Beach front Surf Shop hired him to create its emblem. Applied until eventually 2016, his iconic drawing of a rubbery, massive-footed surfer with a shock of blonde hair and clutching a surfboard upcoming to hand-drawn lettering is arguably one particular of the longest-working logos in surf record. In excess of the decades, the corporation has emblazoned it on every thing from surfboards to stickers and hats. Despite the fact that the Pacific Seashore Surf Store emblem is well-identified in the surf world, most likely even extra iconic is what came upcoming: artwork for the famous Windansea Surf Club.

In accordance to Cornelius, in 1963 rumor had it Surfrider Seashore in Malibu (now Malibu Lagoon State Seashore) was closing to create a boat harbor. Several of his cohort acquired collectively at the Hobie shop to examine participating in the “very last-ever” Malibu Invitational surf contest. The hitch was they essential to be a official surf club to enter. So, they made a person.

The group of ragtag surfers founded the Windansea Surf Club, an business that has due to the fact designed a prestigious name for itself all around the planet. Cornelius’ original design for the club stays its figuring out mark. It is a throwback reminder of individuals early surf days, a time ahead of key corporate sponsorship and significant income for surfing functions. “We decided on a identify [at the meeting], and boom! I went to the again, grabbed a blank T-shirt and a pink felt pen and that was that,” recalled Cornelius. “The club went to Malibu and won just about just about every trophy. I considered about cleaning it up, but we liked it. They however use my structure to this day — it can be been in movies, ads for Vans sneakers, it can be all over the place.”

Cornelius went on to have a long job, drawing comics, cartoons for the Windansea publication, logos for publications and surf and skateboard companies, as properly as mural operate in San Diego. He also worked as an U.S. Army illustrator soon after initially remaining drafted for the Vietnam War in 1967. Ultimately, immediately after what he displays upon as yrs of much too a great deal surf and partying, he wanted a transform of scene.

“Surfing was my heroin,” Cornelius mused. “I dropped every thing for a wave — I skipped work, whatever. I was doing just sufficient to get by and at the same time, I hung out with famous cartoonists like Scott Shaw. These men were being carrying out their artwork and I was not. I couldn’t get myself into art the way that I wished to.”

In addition to his need to concentrate on his artwork, Cornelius also suffered from PTSD and experienced developed skin cancer linked to his publicity to Agent Orange used by the U.S. governing administration even though in Vietnam. It was time to get out of the sunshine. He uncovered his way to Humboldt County in 1991 to actually concentrate on his artwork.

Relocating around Southern Humboldt for nearly 3 decades right before settling in Eureka a handful of a long time back again, Cornelius mostly developed silkscreen T-shirts and logos, which include for Reggae on the River in 2000 and 2001, prior to obtaining further into murals and Buddhist-motivated artwork. He invested many years pumping out graphic structure and artwork that a lot of Humboldt people are acquainted with, like graphics and brand lettering for Dazey’s Supply, title lettering and 10 years of cartoons for The Trader magazine, and even hand-drawn film posters for the previous theater in Garberville.

Even though the San Diego crew nevertheless requests artwork, Cornelius has retired from layout perform. These times you are much more likely to obtain him hanging out on his own, meditating or operating on his surfing-inspired paintings and spiritually infused dragon items in his home studio. Sadly, much more than 30 a long time of his portfolio, which includes substantially of his first surf and skate perform, burned in a hearth many several years back. Continue to, Cornelius says he is material with his mark on the entire world, representing as it does some 50 decades of surf and skateboard history and the style and design landscape stretching from the beach locations of Southern California to Humboldt.

Tamar Burris (she/her) is a freelance instruction writer and relationship mentor. Her reserve for young children of divorce A New Exclusive Mate is offered through her website www.tamarburris.com.

Maria Lewis

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