Artist Interview: Phil Goodrich

World traveler, surfer, artist. Phil Goodrich wants to perpetually travel the earth in search of the perfect wave while looking for the next beautiful image to immortalize via his brush against an open canvas. He has found that perfect medium of doing what he loves, painting, and still having time to participate in the activity he loves most, surfing. His passion is obvious…as you’ll see below.

When did you know you wanted to be an artist? And when did you start surfing?

I grew up in Indialantic, Florida. My father bought me a surfboard when I was ten (1981). He had a friend at work that surfed and I think that he found the guy to be interesting and cool.

What is your art training? Formal or self-taught?

My father is a scientist/engineer. We used to make projects in the garage. I drew cartoons in grade school and enrolled in college in San Diego. I thought I wanted to be a graphic designer until I sat for too long in front of a computer. I switched majors to Studio Art and graduated in 1993.

What mediums do you focus on?

Oil paint on wood is my favorite.

What’s your creative process? Do you paint based on images in your head or from real life experiences?

I base my paintings on photos or groups of photos. I stare at the photos and then stare at a blank piece of wood and I try and find common contours within the grain of the wood.


Do you see a connection between surfing and your art? Does one inspire the other?

I used to dream of being a professional surfer… When I realized that I wasn’t good enough to get paid to surf I just wanted to figure out a way to do something I love and get paid and still be able to surf. I based everything on surfing. I went to Point Loma University because it was on a cliff above decent waves… I started to travel to third world countries with great waves because it was affordable, but then I started to appreciate the beauty found within their cultures… My art is an expression of what I find to be beautiful, but it has also become a form of currency to fund my traveling to surf spots. I have traded huge bodies of work to various resorts in many countries…

What do you gain creatively by travelling to places like Indonesia and beyond?

Indonesia is an ultimate place to work. The color of the jungle, Indian Ocean, birds, insects, reef burn a lasting impression on my mind.

How do you create lasting images that transcend trends?

When I look for images to paint its like choosing a shirt at a thrift store…. I’m not looking for whats hip at the moment; but something timeless. I use wood because I can find the rhythms of the subject within the grain.


Being an artist, you still have to make money, but the average person may not spend a lot of money on art. This seems like it could make it hard for an artist to spread his work. How do you find a happy medium between staying comfortable financially and getting your work out there?

People tell me all the time that I sell my work for too cheap… I would rather hear that than have critics that think I’m ripping people off. I still find it rewarding to sell a painting at any price as long as the purchaser is excited and satisfied. I moved from California to South Carolina to be with my wife. The cost of living is much less here. The waves aren’t as good, but it leaves me more time to paint and network. It also allows me to sell art at an affordable price.

As far as surfing goes, you made the cover of The Surfers Path. Tell us about that image and that session.

That was taken in Nias 2005 by Paul Kennedy. I stayed 6 months on Nias that season. It was September and fairly crowded that day but the waves were flawless. It had stormed during the night so the morning had that extra clean light. the photographer was in one of those small dugout canoes in the channel. He was in such a good position for that photo, when I came out of the barrel into the channel I could have stepped into the little boat. It was quite a buzz to hear that the image made it onto the cover. I had daydreamed of something like that but never really believed it would happen.

What can we expect to see from Phil Goodrich in the near future?

Hopefully more of the same. Paint, surf, travel. I’m enjoying life and I don’t set unrealistic goals so I don’t get let down.

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