The Artwork Of Paul Elder

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"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.

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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...

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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.

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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.

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Text and Photos: Brody

Board of the Week: The Catfish

I've been building this particular board for 25 plus years. I gave it a name about 15 years ago.

It's designed to be an everyday board. Everyday means average surf; most of the time it's the stuff we ride in between real swells. Basically this is a 90% solution.

For arguments sake, the average shortboard is 6'2" 18.5 by 2.3 with an 11" nose and a 14" tail - about a 3" difference between the nose and tail which would pull the wide point to about 2" behind center.

A Catfish designed for the same rider would be roughly 3" inches shorter and almost an inch wider in the center with a proportionately wider nose. The difference between the nose and tail would be about 2" putting the nose at 13 and the tail at around 15. Filling out the nose a little pulls the wide point an inch or so.

The Catfish has modern rails, a single concave through the midsection that blends into a light double barrel "V" through the fins. The rocker is slightly relaxed compared to a high performance shortboard but by no means flat. In fact the profile closely resembles the shortboards of the late 80's.

The most distinctive feature is the two sets of wings and split tail, commonly known as a double wing swallow.

Wings, or template breaks, on surfboards have evolved for over 6 decades. The Velzy Bump in the late 50's was perhaps the first one marketed for it's enhanced turning capabilities. The Velzy/Jacobs 422 a few years later had a more defined bump. Terry Fitzgerald was a proponent in the early 70's with more and more designers embracing the concept by the mid 70's. A hard wing was a key component in MR's tour dominating twinnies of the late 70's and early 80's.

Simon's early Thrusters all had bumps/hips working in tandem with the front fins and bottom. The deep channel boards that we were building in the early to mid 80's were almost always double wing swallows which were natural exit points for the channels.

The basic notion is a break in the outline helps to create a fulcrum or lever to help break the arc of a turn when desired. It also helps to step down tail width without having excess curve. "Hard" or angular wings, also function to create release points for the water.

So that's a little background on the Catfish. It's just a super fun everyday board that, unlike a lot of alternative shapes, doesn't require a lot of transition from the board you might turn to when there is a real swell.

You might even have a hard time getting off the Catfish when the surf does turn on.

- Rusty