surfboard with photograph
Pink Hibiscus on a 6 foot 4 inch Chris Birch double-wing quad

“Pink Hibiscus”, surfboard #4 in the Tony Arruza Collection, is completed and as with the prior three boards it is an eye-catching and unique piece. For those not familiar with this project the goal is to come up with 15 boards by 15 shapers from which to mount gallery shows from. This personal project is a marriage of two life long passions, photography and surfing.

The premise of the project is “functional art”. By that I mean each board must be hand shaped by a master craftsman, glassed and finished in a normal manner and be fully functional and ready to be ridden. The boards however are then transformed into pieces of art with the inclusion of an original Giclée printed on textile material.

surfboard blank

pink hibiscus flower
The uncroped photograph of Pink Hibiscus

I collaborated with Chris Birch from Indialantic who shapes out of the R&D Factory in Rockledge, Florida. Chris and I decided on one of his more popular shapes, a 6’4″ double-wing, round pin quad. I envisioned a more colorful, tropical print for board #4 and after the board was shaped I worked up a couple of designs, each with a red or pink hibiscus flower or flowers. In the end I decided on a contrasting and dramatic image. I wanted it to pop and make a statement.

shaping a surfboard
shaping a surfboard


The board was glassed by Rob Opperman who came up with a beautiful and complimentary green tint for the bottom of the board. Boards #1 & 2 had clear sides on the opposite side of the print but #3 and now #4 have used a color tint. Also both #s3 & 4 used resin pin lines, which requires taping off by hand and applying and even coat of pigmented resin. It is a painstaking process that is seldom done any more. With “Pink Hibiscus” Chris did his own pin lining, just like Ricky Carroll did with “Crystal Lip”. However with Chris’s board it is the first time the print was placed on the deck of the board.

glassing a surfboard

photograph on surfboard
double pin lines


Because the nature of the project involves hand crafted surfboards, the collaboration between shaper and myself and the designing and implementing of the art the going is slow, not to mention costly. It’s daunting to think I have eleven more boards to complete. Since each requires working with a new shaper the process begins anew every single time. No two shaper or glasser work the same and it is as much of a learning curve for me to work with them as it is for them to work with the laminant material the print is on.

resining a photograph on to a surfboardphotographic print resined on a surfboard

polishing a surfboardreflection of polisher on surfboard


However, every time a board is completed I become excited and can’t wait to begin working on the next one. It is my hope to make each one completely unique and different from all the rest and to bring as much notice to my photography as to the artisanship of the shapers and glassers that work on the boards.

fins on a surfboard