I am Johny Vieira, 29 years old, currently living in Santa Cruz, Portugal. After starting to surf, 17 years ago, the ocean became a place where I constantly seek inspiration, fun, and energy. It is in the ocean where I feel at home and most like myself.
As it becomes obvious from the name, Johny Surf Art is a project where my passion for surf and art meet. Each one entered into my life in a different way, but both stayed and became an integral part of my personality.
Surfing turned my life in an alternative but utmost enjoyable direction. When I stop to think, I realise that my life is entirely connected to the sea, day to day, month to month, year to year, including people, ideas, and even dreams. To live by the ocean and for the ocean, that’s the SURF part.
My first introduction to manual work, even though mostly technical, took place by my father’s side. From an early age, I would accompany him at his job and in the workshop, learning how to work with wood, metal and electrical devices. A person of great imagination, he always managed to bring a portion of creativity to the most mundane tasks. He was the one to cultivate my habit of working hard.
Then it was my sister, Fanny Vieira. She has been always passionate about and actively involved in all possible kinds of art, and growing up with her meant constantly discovering art culture in its striking diversity. She is an outstanding artist and a person I respect immensely. This is where the ART part comes from.
Naturally (or not :) ), surf and art ‘education’ made the idea of creating waves possible. I remember well that unusual morning, almost 5 years ago. Still sleepy and dreamy in bed, I found myself looking at a picture frame and imagining a wave curling out of it, and that was the exact moment when the search for the perfect wave begun. With a limited array of artistic skills, from the scratch, I had to figure out the way to incarnate my idea. The process flowed naturally, although it came as a relief from extreme obsession with perfect waves, tirelessly voyaging across my mind.
Waves are utterly fluid, they appear only in a fraction of time and immediately disappear, leaving no trace, apart from the one in our memory. Basically, or rather physically, they are just pure energy. So, for all the people who enjoy this energy, it comes as something sacred, irresistible and unattainable. One cannot keep a wave to himself. Therefore, I see my waves as a tribute to the ephemeral nature of a wave. In my project, I try to create hypnotising barrels, long walls and churning breaks through simple lines, crystalline colours through the utmost minimal design, where nothing distracts attention from the wave itself, thus allowing our imagination to surf.
Photo credits: Daniel Espirito Santo
Each piece is made with two main components - wood (classic frames or driftwood) and regular gypsum. I enjoy frames for their classic form that perfectly reveal and enhance the wave’s elegance. Driftwood, on the other hand, always carries a story to tell. Where is it traveling from? How did it end up in the sea? How many kilometres did it travel to arrive to my shore? There is always this intrigue. Also, due to its imperfections, driftwood obliges you to adapt the shape of the wave and choose specific colours to create a harmonic piece. For me, driftwood is an offer from the ocean that I give back as a tribute in the form of a wave.
To contribute to the health of our ocean, I try to pick up trash from the beach whenever I go for a driftwood hunt. We need to be conscious of the impact that we have on nature. This is why I started building travel boxes for waves, from reclaimed old pallets. Also, the plastic cups used for mixing paints are collected from a nearby office water cooler, where they get wasted after single use. These are tiny little changes, but I believe they make a difference.