Stab Magazine | A Lesson In Art With Herbie Fletcher

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A Lesson In Art With Herbie Fletcher

*psychedelics not included

style // Aug 19, 2017
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Last winter, on the North Shore, I met Herbie. He stood at a rough 5’8”, had the greying hair of a mad scientist, wore square spectacles and a white Wave Warriors T-shirt. We shook hands. He asked what I did.

“I write for Stab Magazine.”

“Do you like art, man?” he asked.

“Yeah, I like art.”

“That’s cool,” he replied and just looked at me. I didn’t know what to do; I gave him a thumbs-up. He nodded.

We were at the Weedmaps manor overlooking Sunset, and we were all a little stoned – this is a scattered recollection.

Later that night, as the skate team rolled spliff after spliff and a thin layer of smoke hovered overhead, photog Matt Paul was talking to Herbie. Herbie was leaning against the pool table beneath a spiral staircase that looked out into an 11pm moon flowing over the ocean. Matt said, “Morgan, wanna come check out Herbie’s art?” 

I thought, “yeah, I like art.”

Herbie took a sip of his Bloody Mary and waved me over with the hand holding his phone.

He scrolled through his website, clicking on the thumbnails, and, in detail, explained his process for every piece. “This one is Teahupoo at sunset,” he said. From what I could gather through the six-inch screen of his phone, it was a blood red sky with orange and purple streaks, beneath was a cobalt blue block with lighter highlights that hovered above a dark green and yellow textured reef. It was splattered with resin; the reef’s pattern was familiar. 

“Have you ever seen Teahupoo at sunset?” he asked. I had not, however, if I had, I don’t know if I would’ve pieced together the dots.

“When I paint, I lay cardboard down below me,” he said. “The paint was dripping down onto the cardboard, I looked down and was like, ‘this looks pretty cool’, so I ripped the cardboard off from beneath my feet and stuck it on the bottom to make the reef. Then I brushed resin over to it get the texture and covered the entire piece in resin – this piece is four by six feet, it’s for a hotel or an art gallery. Some of my art is surf-inspired, but it’s not surf art.”

“These are pretty sick!” I told him genuinely. “How much do your pieces go for?”

“I wouldn’t sell this for less than $5k,” he told me. “I do fine art.” 

“Do you sell a lot?”

“Yeah, I do. But I don’t care about the money as much as the process – I just want to make what I think is radical.”

This art all comes from a guy who was part of the shortboard revolution. The same man who was the first to play around on jet skis in big surf because he wanted to go faster. The above clip, The Thrill Is Back (a series we’re quite fond of), is all archival footage from his Wave Warriors films–back when VHS was still a thing. Without a doubt, Herb’s an originator. I do doubt, however, that he recalls our interaction – just a blip on the radar of a life well-lived. 

Herbie flicked through his phone and landed on a mixed media piece. The majority of Herbie’s art is heavily glassed, heavily psychedelic, and was designed for a wall space. “Oh, here’s this one; that’s Christian,” he said. “See the texture, I cut up a bunch of pieces of old Astrodeck (his traction co) pads and pasted them on to create the texture for the reef. See right there,” he pointed to the bottom corner of the screen. “It’s hard to see, but I wrote in Christian’s reef.”

“Herbie, I think that says ‘reed’,” Matt chimed. He zoomed in, we took a closer look.

“Fuck,” he laughed. “Yeah, it does! Ah, whatever, I was fucked up when I did this one. But that’s the thing with my art, I don’t change it if something’s wrong, because there is no wrong. It’s about the process, the experience and if people like it, then that’s cool by me, man. I guess this one’s called ‘Christian’s Reed’,” he smiled.

If you’d like to, give Herbie’s art a scroll through here

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