Friday, March 16, 2012

Jim Davidson: from Cronulla to Mooball


Jim Davidson, entering his fifth decade of surf art

North Coast surf artist Jim Davidson is purely ex-Cronulla, simply another offspring child and a true descendant of The Shire's surfboard industry.

For well over the last forty years, Jim’s inimitable style would be instantly recognizable to many surfers, and if they were around in the '70s, '80s, '90s or even ‘00s there’s a good chance they would have either ridden a surfboard featuring one of Jim's surf inspired artistic creations, played a surf DVD that carried his cover design, worn a surf t-shirt bearing a logo that he designed or owned a surf poster featuring his artwork.

Over a lifetime dedicated to the surfing industry and art in general, Jim has specialized in comic-character style surf inspired art for screen printing, spray painting on surfboards, decal designs for surfboard manufacturers and airbrushed posters for surf movies.

Ex-Cronulla artist; Jim Davidson
Getting his start in 1974 spraying surfboards at Jackson Surfboards in Cronulla, Jim soon became Gordon & Smith surfboards’ full time spray-artist, when they were producing up to 100 surfboards a week.

This gave Jim a lot of time to experiment and refine his skills, and soon his work was in hot demand and adorning surfboards shaped by labels including Emerald, Southern Comfort, Force 9, Carabine, Byrne Brorthers, Skipp, Christie, Bennett, Aloha, Channel Islands, Friar Tuck, Island-A-Classic, Natural Flight, and Midget Farrelly, and boards generated by pro-surfers, shapers and surfing identities like Terry Richardson, The Bronzed Aussies, Peter Townend, Cheyen Horan, Mark Occhilupo, Jim Banks, Critter Byrne, Mark Richards and even Michael Peterson among many others.

Even though work was flowing, it was Jim’s dream to move to the North coast - he’d watched the classic surf film; Morning of the Earth and the seed to a country life was sown. So in 1981 Jim and his wife moved to the Northern NSW cow town called Mooball, smack in between the Gold Coast and Byron Bay.

Artwork by Jim
On the Gold Coat, original Kirra Surf founder, Peter Turner introduced Jim to the crew at his Local Knowledge surfboard factory and plenty of work soon followed. Then additional work for Fingal Surf Co, Gordon and Black, Blitz, Pipedream and Nev were just some of the local Gold Coast surf companies sending work his way. Before long Jim was branching out into the clothing industry, designing the logo for top surf brand; Mango and print designs for Billabong and banners for Cheetah Swimwear.

Then came the chance to airbrush the surf movie poster for Storm Riders for Jack McCoy, Dick Hoole and David Lourie, a major milestone in Jim’s career.

In the 1980s Jim created logos and surfboard sprays for Maddog. The iconic dog logo had arrived and ruled over Byron Bay - one version on a billboard greeting people into town was 14 meters tall. Meanwhile surf movie-maker, the late Chris Bystrom had seen the Storm Riders poster and wanted some of the same. Jim became Chris’s artist and good friend, producing 20 or more surf movie posters over the next 15 years.

During this era Jim also dabbled in making surfboard wax with his iconic Green Stuff Board Wax label, designed t-shirts for Sportsart and Roo Shirts, co-founded a screen printing business called Mental Giants and hand drew surf maps of iconic breaks around the world.

Part of Jim's collection on exhibition at Surf World on the Gold Coast
His dazzling works span the entire spectrum of modern surf art. 
Before long Jim’s growing sons were coming of age and following in their father’s brush strokes. Jim and his son Shannon set up a surfboard spraying factory and companies like Mambo, Coca Cola, Dick Brewer and Gordon & Smith all had designs from the father and sons. By now, Jim’s second son Joel was painting some fantastic and wild designs, and the third son Jerrod was hot on the artistic trail too. The boys couldn't have avoided the artistic lifestyle - there was a drawing board and pens in every room of the house.

Back at Mooball the local service station needed a face lift, so Jim suggested a cow theme and created a facade for the entire building and surroundings, adorning the town with black and white cow print and propelling Mooball into the spotlight on Rove TV and featuring in the Lonely Planet guide.

These days Jim runs the nearby Burringbar General Store, a job neither connected to surfing nor art, but it allows him plenty of time to surf and plot his next assault on the surf art world. His contributions to the surf art have been wide and varied, and something tells us there’s plenty more to come.


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Not Occy: Favourite Cronulla son honoured...

He's back...

Iain "Ratso" Buchanan, the former Cronulla pro surfer who turned his hand to judging and rose through the ranks to become head judge of the world professional (ASP) tour in Europe, returned to Cronulla on the weekend to celebrate with old surfing mates winning the 2011 World ASP Masters Surfing title in Brazil.

Photo: Prodigal son: Cronulla mates such as (from left, rear) Richard Maurer, Cameron Johnston, Barry Tyte and Mark Henderson gathered on Saturday when Iain "Ratso" Buchanan (front) got life membership after winning the World Masters surfing title. Picture: John Veage

The New Zealand-born Buchanan, 50, recently managed to topple Australia's former world open surf champion, Wayne "Rabbit" Bartholomew, to win the World Masters title. Rendering himself the first Kiwi to ever take the title.

While he was crowned at an end of the 2011 year ASP Tour Banquet last week in Queensland, his old Cronulla friends got together and decided to also toast his success at Cronulla's Amodus Cafe on Saturday — and make him a life member of the Cronulla Boardriders Club.

Want to read more? For the full story see: St George & Sutherland Shire Leader

In case you missed it; for our story on Ratso's Masters win last year Click here