Tony Caramanico is a New York based surfer / artist who has been surfing since the ‘60s. In that time, he has compiled an astounding number of journal entries that have become works of art that are exhibited in galleries and sold as prints. Tony keeps it simple: surfing and staying positive. We spoke with Tony to find out more.
What was life like growing up?
Life growing up in Amityville, New York was around the sea, and time spent with family and friends. My teen years were spent surfing at Gilgo Beach. I worked in one of the first surf shops on Long Island—Beachcomber Surf Shop—when I was 13. Have been working in or around surfing ever since.
Who did you look up to and admire when you were a young man?
I looked up to the older surfers in my area and the stars in the surf magazines.
When did you get your first surfboard?
I got my first surfboard in 1963 … that my uncle paid five dollars for at a garage sale. It was a homemade board. My first custom board was an 8’7″ Bing.
What was the feeling you had when you first stood on a surfboard?
My first ride was at Gilgo Beach on Labor Day in 1963. It changed my life and gave me the direction I’m still following.
Where did your interest in art come from?
My interest in art came by accident when I started working for Peter Beard in Montauk. I started keeping my journals in 1979 and still do it daily. I never considered myself an artist nor did I keep journals as art. It was my self-expression and I felt that living the life of a surfer at that time was of interest and not in vogue as it is today. I did it for myself.
What is your process when creating your art?
My art is mixed media journals of my travels and daily life.
Of all the places you have traveled to, what place in particular stands out? And why?
Indo 1980 … Bali and G-land.
What is it that makes you such a nice person? What code do you live by?
I try to keep it level and positive in my life.
Who/what inspires you?
People who follow their dreams. The music of Bob Marley. Doing what you love.
What is the greatest thing you have learned in your life?
Stay positive—don’t listen to the negative people out there. Anything is possible if you follow the path you choose.
Do you have any regrets or wish you had done something differently?
I have few regrets and they’re too small to worry about.
What are you most proud of?
I am most proud of my surfboard models that I have had: 1992 to 2002 with Greg Noll, Channin was 2003 to present and the Surftech/Channin TC model in 8′ and 9’1″ was 2008 to present. Also, I’m proud of my surf journals I’ve kept for over 30 years.
What meaning does surfing hold for you and how has it changed your life?
Surfing is my life and has always been my path.
What brings you the most happiness in the world?
Traveling the world and surfing with my wife, Charlotte.
Who are some of the people you feel are shaping the path for surfing today?
The people that are changing the path of surfing are the ones who are free and soul surfers. It’s not competition; it’s not a sport. It’s a lifestyle. It’s an art form.
What is currently your favorite board? Your favorite surfspot?
My favorite board is my 8′ Surftech model of my design. It’s a great mini longboard and great to travel with.
What’s your favorite meal?
My favorite meal is duck, Thai food and Japanese.
What are you currently listening to on your iPod?
I listen to all types of music.
What causes/ projects/organizations do you support?
I try to donate to local causes and things that affect people I know. Also, Surfrider and Surfing Heritage Foundation.
What are you most grateful for?
I am most grateful for being able to surf and travel, and have a very good quality of life—my art and my wife Charlotte.
What’s next for Tony Caramanico?
Next for me is to keep printing my journals and doing art shows, try to do a book and stay on my path that started on that first wave in 1963. Aloha.