The design history surrounding the ancient art of surfing is perhaps richer and more colorful than that of any other sport. Since its inception 3,000 years ago, when fisherman in Polynesia started riding waves on wooden boards, surfing has developed a visual aesthetic that drives a multibillion dollar surfwear industry, with brands like Billabong, Quiksilver, and Volcom letting even the landlocked look Cali-cool. Entire art careers have been built on painting psychedelic designs on boards and photographing the sheer beauty of surfers riding totally tubular waves against the sunrise.
Taschen’s new 365 Day-by-Day: Surfing, a book that doubles as a calendar, pays homage to the images of the sport. Even if the closest you’ve ever come to surfing is watching previews for Blue Crush, it’s hard to resist the ocular appeal of the daily images spanning the book’s 735 pages. Alongside vintage ads for boards and Waikiki hotels are stunning photographs of the rocky cliffs and crashing waves of Laguna Beach; sun-bleached ’70s hippies airbrushing designs on their boards; and Hawaiian blouses printed with Hula dancers. The calendar format lets you count down the days through dreary winter until it’s time to wax your board again.
Many of the images here come from the personal collection of editor Jim Heimann, an L.A. native, cultural anthropologist, and graphic design historian. “[Collecting] is somehow embedded in my genes,” he told L.A. Currents in a 2013 interview. “When I was in junior high, I started saving all my surfer magazines because I lived near the ocean near Playa Del Rey in Westchester, [California].” Advertisements from those magazines now grace the pages of his new book. “And then when I was going to psychedelic dances in L.A., I would grab a bunch of posters, and I kept all that stuff.” Luckily, his parents never threw out the treasure trove of vintage ephemera he’d amassed over the years. “That became the nexus of what then became material for books later on,” he said.
“Sometimes in the morning, when it’s a good surf, I go out there, and I don’t feel like it’s a bad world,” Nobel-prize winning biochemist and avid surfer Kary Mullis once said. 365 Day-by-Day: Surfing sums up that transportive power of a sport (and a lifestyle) that can erase any trace of the negative.
Buy the book here for $29.99.