ENCINITAS — Artist Susan Wickstrand’s unique art has caught the eye of hundreds of collectors and thousands of art enthusiasts. Now, with the latest advancement of her storied career, she’s about to garner the most exposure of her art yet.
Wickstrand was selected out of a talented group of artists during Rip Curl’s 2012 Artist of the Year Search.
“To me, this opportunity will break my name into the apparel/surf industry, which is huge,” Wickstrand said. “I don’t feel like this changes anything except that I still work just as hard every day, but perhaps I now have more doors open to me that I would like to walk through with gratitude and the willingness to always learn more.”
With the Rip Curl agreement comes increasing opportunities.
“The artworks will appear on bikinis, board shorts, tank tops, t-shirts, beach towels, totes, luggage, flip flops, a dress and a hoodie,” Wichstrand said. “With such exposure, as my name and website on each hang tag along with a section of my artwork I made exclusively for Rip Curl, this is the ultimate global branding opportunity.”
Despite her skyrocketing success as an artist, Wickstrand remains humble.
“I feel very grateful for this opportunity with Rip Curl and they have been a wonderful brand to work with.”
The unassuming artist has developed a unique style that infuses a collage of images, textures and designs using an encaustic, or waxing technique.
Each piece is “thumb printed” by the artist as a stamp of approval after an exhaustive process that begins with choosing the central image and surrounding designs.
“A lot of my time is spent cutting things up using tiny scissors,” she said as she poured over hundreds of photographs, matchbook covers and travel receipts.
Most collages take several weeks to complete using layers of paint, images, more paint, additional designs and coats of wax. “The encaustic gives each one an unusual touch,” she said.
Wickstrand carved her own path in the art world beginning with an internship at Motown Records’ art department, designing album covers during college. “It helped me learn about layering and what it takes to design something with feeling,” she said.
After selling traditional oil paintings, Wickstrand began adding wax on top and tinkering with collage. “It just clicks sometimes,” she said, regarding a certain image or theme. “Then I get in the flow and it comes together.”
Her artwork reveals a love of nature, travel and a celebration of cultures and history. “I found some beautiful fabric from Bali that I used in one of my collages,” she said. “It really gives it an island feel without being to over the top.”
Her collaboration with some of the surfing world’s most well known photographers such as Jeff Devine, Tom Servais, Todd Glaser and Art Brewer has added additional inspiration for her work.
“These guys are amazing at what they do and I’m honored to work with them,” she said. Wickstrand has also worked extensively with her husband, Kevin Roche, a professional photographer.
Her latest work is on display at Surfindian’s San Diego gallery through the summer. For more information, visit susanwickstrand.com.