The SurfAid Cup is a global event series held annually at six locations in the US and Australia. This surf for SurfAid charity event is a tag-team format with an emphasis on providing support for the cause and is open to surfers of all ages and abilities. Each year an artist is selected to create a custom design and this year, SurfAid is stoked to benefit from the unique talents of San Diego artist, Bryan Helfand. Bryan is an avid surfer and he brings his love of the sport into each design. Check out what inspires Bryan and learn more about this year’s talented artist. 

How did you get involved with SurfAid and what prompted you to volunteer your talents for the 2020 SurfAid Cup event series? 

I got involved when I crossed paths with SurfAid Executive Director Erin Miserlis. Just so happens that her husband and I went to High School together here in San Diego. When I  learned that she was connected with SurfA

id I showed her some of my artwork and offered up my services for future projects. I’ve known of SurfAid since their inception and the impact they are having on communities in remote locations around the world. It’s an honour to be collaborating with SurfAid as their Featured Artist for the 2020 SurfAid Cup Series celebrating their 20th Anniversary of humanitarian aid. I’m looking forward to creating original artwork and T-shirt designs for each event stop starting in Santa Cruz, Malibu, San Diego and Surf Ranch.

You have a unique mixed media style. Tell us about your background and what inspires your painting style? 

I’ve always had a connection with creating. Mostly drawing and painting early on.  I dabbled in some college art courses but ultimately steered down other career paths and responsibilities…always dabbling creatively. In 2006 I went to the Sacred Craft event in Del Mar and watched a guy named Drew Brophy paint the most amazing flames on a surfboard. He made it look so easy and fun and I was inspired. I went home that night and painted on one of my boards and my art flame was lit. I’ve been surfing for most of my life and the ocean has been a huge inspiration for me. My art revolves around ocean themes where I’m able to capture the essence of its energy and flow through the use and combination of paint, wood, resin and repurposed objects. Through mixed media, I create texture and depth with many different techniques and tools that I use to cut, drill, paint and assemble. I’ve shown my work in solo and group shows in California, Hawaii and Japan. In 2012 I had the amazing opportunity to paint a large scale mural inside the Facebook Headquarters in Menlo Park, CA.

One of your signature styles involves the addition of kelp to many of your pieces. Where did this idea come from? 

The kelp came to me in the form of a sketch. I had this small notebook that had the Recycling symbol on the front cover.  I started sketching a strand of kelp that wrapped around the logo and it immediately grabbed my attention. It’s really what sent me down this mixed media path. I can go in so many unique directions with it creatively.  It usually finds its way into the theme of each piece, sometimes as the main focus and sometimes in combination with other elements such as the moon, sun, mountains, waves, etc. Kelp truly has become the signature to much of what I design and create.

The SurfAid Cup event funds help support Mother and Child Health Programs in extremely remote communities that lack access to clean water & sanitation, basic healthcare, and nutrition. Knowing how critical it is to have access to these services, how does it feel to be a part of the efforts to give this opportunity to others? 

I’m honoured and humbled to be able to lend a helping hand to this global cause. SurfAid is dedicated to helping humanity not only survive but flourish in a healthy environment. They’re making a huge difference in the livelihoods of families and communities in remote locations around the globe providing them with basic and necessary medical and health-related needs. These basic needs are things that most people may take for granted because they’re so conveniently available to us, like clean water.

You designed the winning trophies for last year’s SurfAid Cup San Diego at Cardiff Reef and you also surfed in the event. What was that like? What can other surfers looking to get involved in a SurfAid Cup event expect out in the water? 

Designing the trophies for the Cardiff Reef event was a  great opportunity. I grew up in San Diego and have been surfing in Cardiff and N. Country for the better part of 35 years so to be able to create artwork for a surfing community that is near and dear to my heart was very fulfilling. Surfing in the event was rad. It’s a team format that includes 1 pro surfer per team. Getting to be in the line-up with Taylor Knox, Damian Hobgood, Josh Kerr and Devon Howard all at the same time and listening to their banter was simply hilarious. The whole event was filled with positive vibes and much aloha. 

Tell us about the design you created for the SurfAid Cup Santa Cruz. Since the event is cancelled due to the pandemic, how are you using your design to continue to support SurfAid’s Mother and Child Health programs? 

The design I created is a Pleasure Point sunrise theme in an 80’s colour palette of pink, orange, yellow and black. It will be available on apparel very soon with 100% of the profits going to help SurfAids efforts.

You’re also creating a unique design for the SurfAid Cup Malibu, San Diego and Surf Ranch. Any ideas percolating yet? 

Lots of ideas for sure! It’ll be fun to put my creative twist on these iconic and historical surf spots to capture a vibe that people can connect with. 

How can people learn more about you and your work?

               Artist Instagram: @bryanhelfandart 

               Artist Facebook: Bryan Helfand, Artist

               Artist website:                                                   

What’s better – getting barreled or finishing a painting? 

Nothing compares to getting barreled!

Is there any other information you’d like to share?

Wash your hands!

To shop Bryan Helfand’s Custom SurfAid Cup Santa Curz 2020 t-shirt, click here.