Shark fever is in full effect the day I catch up with experimental Byron-based painter and tattoo artist Brodie Jackson. With 12 attacks in 12 months (including two fatalities) paranoia has gripped the iconic stretch of coast and everyone has an opinion on what should be done. For Brodie, who specializes in drawing what he sees—then tattooing it on the bodies of willing surfers—these recent events have provided no shortage of new material. “I think this whole saga has pointed out who the real surfers are,” he says. The feature story on Brodie in issue 24.5 of TSJ looks at his work. Here he talks about the creative process and origins of a few of his recent drawings.
Wayne Lynch, Sea of Joy
I make sure the images I create are tattooable. That’s how I taught myself to paint. To make things look good on skin I use solid imagery, block colors, and block shapes—really simple. I like color as well. Making something positive and lighthearted is the main thing. I’m already thinking about the next illustration as I’m making the current one. I’ve done these “wobble characters” for a while. They kind of look like they’re in motion. The actual image itself is a Wayne Lynch reference from Sea of Joy. That’s where I got the stance and body positioning. I really like his style and contributions to surfing. His approach in Sea of Joy and Evolution has been a major influence on me.
“Do A Surf”
The idea for this one comes from skating. People will cruise up to you and say, “Do a trick,” which is pretty funny. You gotta impress them straight away. The Bart Simpson stance or what you guys call a “parallel stance” or “Jesus stance” is from Nat Young in Ride a White Horse, I think, when he does that in the shorebreak and passes his hands behind his back. I also think it’s visually interesting to just paint the legs, to draw your attention to how they’re positioned, as opposed to the whole body. The guy I live with is a tattoo artist and good friend, and we always use a lot of each other’s references. He does a really cool sunflower with a face in it, which is where that comes from.
I wanted this to look like an 80s pamphlet for a holiday vacation or something—just real corny, cheesy, sun and the birds kind of stuff. I like the hand drag like I do the head dip. It’s just a real simple thing that looks amazing when it’s done well. I think this is Nat Young, again, from Ride a White Horsee at Haleiwa. I just reversed the direction he’s surfing. For me it always comes backs to those characters—the original icons of a certain style. I think their surfing is attractive because they do it effortlessly. And one of the reasons it’s so good to watch is because you know they aren’t imitating anyone.
I lived with Derek Hynd for a little while two years ago and a friend named Harry Henderson (another of the Byron friction-free crew). I love the fact that Derek can ruffle feathers by just doing what he does. It’s amazing to see how solid he surfs. He puts all my mates to shame. He’s surfing the best in the world on finless boards and has been doing it for the longest time. The one at the bottom is Derek in Litmus at J-Bay, where he does that epic Terry Fitzgerald bottom-turn and at the end of the section he does a layback on this gun contraption, probably the best layback I’ve ever seen. He’s fully lying on the water. I tried to get his body just right in that one. The top one is just recently at Wategos (in Byron Bay), when he was riding this mint-colored piece of foam. I don’t know what he was doing, exactly. It looks like part of a boat—just next-level amazing.
Derek Finless Throning and Josh Sleep
Derek was sitting down a lot on this big, 11-foot, yellow board. He was calling it “throning” on a finless board. He would literally just sit there and slide sideways. People wouldn’t know how to take it, like, “Fuck him for riding this big finless board.” But also, “Fuck you, that’s Derek Hynd riding a big finless board.” I had to paint local underground hero Josh Sleep because he’s a good friend. Him and Derek—from two different eras doing the same things—are a weird but good match.
Images: Brodie Jackson Collection
A custom set of press-on tattoos—and an extended look at Brodie Jackson’s illustration work—are featured in issue 24.5 of TSJ