"I may never retire, but at least I've been semi-retired my whole life." Paul Elder is one of the elite few who has made a life out of doing what he loves. And what Paul loves is art. Paul is an exceptional painter and free hand artist that is inspired by the life that surrounds him: surfing, traveling, and fishing - his passion for these activities is undeniable in his work. You have probably seen Paul's work several times and have never even realized it. If you are a fan of Rusty Surfboards you have definitely seen his work as Paul designed several of our board icons over the years including the Piranha, the Desert Island, the Predator, the Toad, the Cat Fish, and the Slayer.
The Ballast Point Brewery artwork is also the brain child of Elder, everything from beer bottle labels to tap handles, he free handed them all. Some other notable clients of Elder's includes: Bloody Decks, Bulky Boy, H&M Landing, and a handful of other small local businesses...
Paul has a secluded art studio where he does a lot of his work and the quaint retreat is riddled with colorful masterpieces. Upon entering Paul's studio it quickly becomes apparent that he loves what he does. In addition to the stunning finished products gracing the walls, there are other works in progress and tid bits of inspiration scattered about. Photos from an old Baja camping trip are tacked to the wall. Concept sketches are lying here and there. Dried paint in a plethora of colors line the edge of his easel. Everywhere you look there is art.
Do not be fooled though. Paul is not just an artist playing the role of the fly on the wall and portraying what he sees, he is a very active participant in the arenas that inspire his artwork the most. As an avid surfer, fisherman, and a long time traveler, Paul has built his life around his lifestyle. Paul has spent time in Indonesia, El Salvador, and Mexico and Thailand, where he spent his formative years in elementary and middle school. The nature of being an artist allows him to create his own schedule, leaving plenty of room for fishing and surfing trips. Also, being the hands on kind of guy that he his, he will often dabble in the construction process of his gear. For example, he made his very impressive spear fishing gun from scratch - not an easy feat to accomplish. Once again, to prove that he is not just an artist and a craftsman, Paul graciously opened his freezer to share a plentiful helping of fresh white sea bass that he caught himself the day prior.
What a life? Travel, surf, fish... and then paint it. Perhaps he should be a teacher too, because we should all be taking notes.
Text and Photos: Brody