Wade Koniakowsky is a talented California surfer/painter who is known for his vivid depictions of the ocean lifestyle. His work is shown in galleries all over the world and he recently collaborated with Dick Brewer on a series of board paintings. We recently spoke with Wade to learn more.
What was your childhood like growing up?
Lost in a fertile imagination. My mom helped channel it into some structured art instruction. And I drew incessantly.
What was the feeling you had when you first stood on a surfboard?
Floating, I suppose. It’s one of the more vivid recollections of my childhood. It was 1966. I was 12.
When did you get your first surfboard?
My first board was wooden. My dad took Tom Blake’s plans, which had been published in Popular Mechanics magazine, and modified them slightly. I learned from this that the kook boxes needed all that thickness for flotation. My dad’s version was smaller and thinner, but didn’t float well. Soon after, I got my first board—a Pop-Out. My brother and I bought it for $60 and paid the guy $5 a week until we paid it off.
Who did you look up to and admire when you were a young man?
Mike Doyle, Joey Cabell, Paul Strauch… guys like that. And a few older local guys.
Where were you educated?
Texas State University. I did a program that combined fine art and commercial art. It was a decent foundation for the years I spent in advertising and graphic design as well as my current pursuit of fine art.
Tell us about your wonderful paintings. What do you hope to evoke with them?
First, I want reach a broad audience; I want to appeal to anyone with an affinity for the ocean. I want it to evoke what the ocean evokes: tranquility, power, beauty, light, color and a connection to the lifestyles that revolve around the ocean.
Of all the interesting places you have traveled to, what place in particular stands out? And why?
These days, when I travel I like to paint and surf. One of the best places I’ve found for good surf and inspiring views is Hanalei Bay. A day of surfing and painting around Hanalei and the North Shore of Kauai in general is hard to beat. And thanks to a good friend, I have a very comfortable place to stay and work when I’m there.
What code or “golden rule” do you live by?
Life is a gift. Any sense of entitlement runs contrary to that.
Who or what inspires you?
Anyone who steps out and takes hold of all that life has to offer. Artistically, I’m inspired by early California art. I’m inspired by artists who make significant breakthroughs—like Jackson Pollock—or artists like Warhol, who doesn’t take it all so seriously. I’m inspired by artists who simply make a living at art. That’s an art in itself. I see so many people doing art and so few really making a living doing it. And I’m inspired by a lot of artists who are friends of mine. I get to observe them deal with life in the midst of pursuing their art.
What is the greatest thing you have learned in your life?
God is in control.
Do you have any regrets or wish you had done something differently?
Yes, but I’d rather not remind myself of them.
What are you most proud of?
What meaning does surfing hold for you and how has it changed your life?
Surfing is a teacher. It’s helped to show me my place in the universe.
What brings you the most happiness in the world?
What is in your current quiver? What is your favorite board?
I’m down to one longboard—a 9’8” noserider—and a couple of mini logs in the 8’ range. Then, a bunch of old school mid-lengths between 7’ and 8’ as well as a couple boards in the 6’8” range. The board I ride most is a 7’ fatty tri, two plus one.
What’s your favorite meal?
Hole in the wall Mexican food.
What are you currently listening to on your iPod?
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.
What causes, projects, organizations do you support?
Surfrider and art education
What are you most grateful for?
Family and friends.
What’s next for Wade Koniakowsky?
We’re just finalizing a deal to open a new ocean art gallery with Aaron Chang in the Cedros Design District in Solana Beach.
Learn more about Wade Koniakowsky’s and his work here. All work is copyrighted by the artist.