The Coast News Group
A Brush with Art

Surf artist stoked by positive reactions

San Diego surf artist Bryan Helfand has every reason to be stoked. Although he has been seriously painting for only seven years, his is the only surf art mural in the corporate headquarters of Facebook, the social media giant located in Menlo Park, Calif.The 153-square-foot brilliantly colored mural depicting the ocean with a perfect wave and flowing kelp beneath a blazing sunset covers what used to be an enormous blank wall. According to Facebook employee Sara S., the image evokes a peaceful feeling of sitting on the beach in Cardiff, and even suggests the distinctive smell that goes along with it. She says of Helfand’s artwork, “It’s on the verge of exploding, and most people won’t be able to afford it soon.”

Since he was 8 years old, surfing had been Helfand’s “creative fix” until a fateful day in 2006 when he attended an event showcasing surfboard shapers and other surf-related items. After watching an established surf artist transform a white board into “this rad piece of art that you could ride,” Helfand went home and painted one of his own boards that same night. “When it was done I couldn’t stop looking at it … I was blown away by what I had just created.”

Bryan Helfand’s Art Alive banner is currently on display at the Cardiff Town Center.   Photo courtesy of Stephen Whalen Photography
Bryan Helfand’s Art Alive banner is currently on display at the Cardiff Town Center. Photo courtesy of Stephen Whalen Photography

He continues, “The creative door swung wide open at that moment and I walked through it. I started painting some boards for friends and the feedback was really positive, which gave me the confidence to keep going.”

In a recent interview with Corduroy TV, Helfand describes how his artistic development has been fueled by positive reaction to his artwork: “It’s like riding a wave and having people hoot at you along the way. You’re so stoked after riding that wave because you expressed yourself in a way that people genuinely enjoyed what you were doing at that moment in time. It fuels your stoke to do it again and again.”

That’s exactly what he’s been doing for the past seven years.

Helfand states, “With the use of acrylics, pencil, pen, and found objects, I create art that, like the ocean, is magnetic. Each piece is an evolution of the last. It’s always evolving … a lot like my surfing.”

He remarks, “I paint what interests me in a way that hopefully evokes happiness, positivity and a calm, elegant state of mind.”

Regularly donating artwork to help raise funds for ocean-related organizations such as the Surfrider Foundation, SurfAid, and the annual Luau & Longboard Invitational for UCSD Moores Cancer Center, Helfand says, “My paintings portray a clean and beautiful ocean. We as individuals have the power on a daily basis to help keep it that way. Collectively and consistently we can help to keep our waterways, beaches and oceans free of foreign objects and pollution.”

While showing a selection of his work at Bliss 101 in Encinitas, an exhibit of Helfand’s ocean surf art will be on display through mid-June at The Huntington Beach International Surfing Museum. His work will also be shown at the US Open of Surfing on July 28 in Huntington Beach, in addition to an upcoming group show at The ARTery @ The Lab in Costa Mesa.

There will be an exceptional opportunity to own a piece of Helfand’s original art when his Art Alive banner, along with 100 other banners painted by local artists, is auctioned on May 26 in the courtyard of Cardiff Town Center. Details of the auction can be found at

Learn more about the artist, his surf art, and his upcoming exhibitions at

Kay Colvin is director of the L Street Fine Art Gallery in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter, serves as an arts commissioner for the City of Encinitas, and specializes in promoting emerging and mid-career artists. Contact her at [email protected].