Surfeurs Vous N’Avez Rien Compris

Xabier Zirikiain is a 44 year old former mechanical engineer that left his work designing airplane wings to start a clothing company called Loreak Mendian 15 years ago. Since then, he has been the art director of the company, however, he is also very involved in making art, filmmaking, and surfing. This Spanish artist is touring his exhibition of 10 posters to Tokyo, San Sebastian and Berlin so far, with more stops to be added.

What is the idea behind these posters? Is there a message you are trying to tell?

Last year, I decided to make a small catalog of all the artwork related to surfing that I have done in the last 10 years with Loreak Mendian. Some of it was t-shirts, some event posters, and other collages.


One of the t-shirt logos that was selected as a cover of Paris may 68 poster. The poster had written “Burgois vous n’avez rien compris.” I loved that poster, I changed Bourgeois for Surfers. When thinking of a name for the expo, this t-shirt came to my mind as I always had this impression that the surf industry never understood anything about surfing.

The posters for the expo (10) are versions of works in that catalog. I didn’t want to just make a digital print or a screen print of the originals, so I chose the ones that could be reproduced with collages or just by cutting colored paper. All done by hand, with lots of love.

I always try to make designs that make you think (a little bit). Most of the designs deal with movement, identity, roots or nationalism.

What inspired these 10 art pieces?

The original work that inspired these posters are very different. It’s not the same to create a t-shirt or a posters. All these works are done over the last 10 years so they were made with very different states of mind. But the posters were done all in two weeks, so even if the origin is different, the result is quite solid.

My original idea was to do very short expos in the streets. Just a happening of two hours on the street…some beers, some friends. I didn’t want to frame the posters and didn’t want to put it in a gallery. I enjoy very much walking down the street and watch things. Could it be a punk poster, a stupid tag or anything, really. But then I found that it was very difficult to bring people’s attention when your posters are close to other posters with special offers. This last weekend, we did a show in Langbrett, (a beautyful surf store in Berlin) and we hung the posters on the shop window. It looked amazing!

We know you are into filmmaking and now have seen another extension of your creativity. What other art are you involved in?

I work in many fields. I design stores, draw, make pictures, graphic design or think of marketing strategies. For me, all are the same thing really. I enjoy all of them and I like to jump from one to other. Or just have them cross paths, like drawing a big mural for one store.

Modernist Basque Surfing was my first film ever. I did  it together with Iker Treviño and the Debolex crew. That was a very different way of working. I am used to working on my own. To work with a team is very different. We were extremely unlucky as the sea was flat for two months!

What can we expect to see from you next? Another film? More art?

At the moment I am thinking of doing a book together with Cesar Ancelle Hansen, with his photos and my collages about the Basque Country. I will continue to have my own vision of surfing through films, posters or books. It’s all the same really. Gracias for your interest and I hope I can make it someday to California with the expo, with the film or just with my board.

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