The Artist – Tom Metcalf
Tom Metcalf is an artist and surfer based in Exmouth, Devon who’s been putting his surf filled daydreams to good use in the form of surf fin art. Surfing and art have helped Tom recover from a near life-ending mental breakdown in 2015.
I was lucky enough to catch up with Tom and ask him a few questions, here’s what he had to say:
Where do you get the inspiration for your designs?
I’ve always been fascinated with patterns, double exposure images, optical illusions and the use of negative space, so from a design aspect, these things have definitely had an impact in the way I create and form the compositions in my surf fin prints. I love all of those little tricks on the brain, that cause it to work that little bit harder and see things that aren’t necessarily there. For example, with my Palm Tree Fin you can see how some of these things come into play, as there’s no outline to it, but when you look at it it, you still clearly see the fin shape as your brain fills in the gaps.
The themes in my designs come from my love for the traditional iconic images that immediately spring to mind when you think of surfing and surf culture, and there’s definitely a strong hawaiian/tropical influence running through my prints. I’m a massive fan of tropical prints, so you’ll also see that coming through in some of my designs too.
My reason for choosing the surf fin as the basis for my artwork comes from having had difficulties with my mental health, so to me, the surf fin is a symbol of stability, control and drive. During my recovery, these have become really important characteristics to me and so it’s great to have my fins around as a reminder of this. You might have also noticed that my fins are all slightly tilted upwards too. This is again another intentional hidden meaning in each piece and reminder to keep looking up and moving forwards.
Working on any new designs or future projects?I’m currently working on a new set of colour linocut fin prints, which you can see progress shots from on my instagram @carvefinart. The process for creating these is totally destructive, cutting more and more of the lino away for each layer that’s printed, which means that these will be strictly limited edition when they’re released, as there can’t be any reprints.
I’ve also got some T-shirts on the way, through a collaboration with a surf shop in Bali that I’m really excited about, so keep an eye on my social media for more info on that as it comes. They’re currently in production, so it shouldn’t be too long now until those are available.
I’m always interested in chatting with people about possible collabs and design projects and I’m currently on the lookout for more opportunities, so hopefully there’ll be a few more things in the not too distant future.
Do you have a favourite design?
It’s funny you should ask me this, as I’ve asked this on my Instagram and people often answer that it’s really hard to choose and now that you’ve asked me, I get what they mean!
So much thought, work and passion has gone in to each of them, that it’s hard to pick, but from my black prints, I do really love the Palm Tree Fin that I mentioned earlier. It incorporates those aspects of design that I really like, playing tricks on your brain to see something that’s not there.
From the new collection of colour prints that I’ve been working on, I also really love the Monstera Leaf Fin. I’m really stoked with the way the tropical greens look on it and the lush feeling it gives the print. I only used three layered shades of green, but they seem to give it so much depth and life, that it looks like more colours have been used and the leaves really seem to pop on it, so I’m really happy with that.
Favourite surf spot?
This is another difficult one to answer, as I have so many great memories from different places. I’ve recently begun exploring a bit more too, so I’m discovering loads of awesome new places (well, new to me anyway). I also don’t want to get in to trouble for blowing up any secret spots either!
I’m based in Exmouth on the south coast of Devon which doesn’t really get surf, so I spend a lot of my time travelling up north Devon and Cornwall, but there are a few local spots that I love to head to when they’re working. We just had some swell at the weekend actually and after such a flat spell, it was awesome to bump in to so many people out in the line up. It was one of those sessions that had that awesome stoked locals vibe to it. I’ve just come back from a trip to France and managed to get a great few little surf in while I was there, but that was more due to the people I was with and the vibes than the spot I guess.
Wherever I’m at, I just try to remember to have the most fun I can while I’m there and the make the most of it.
Buy surf fin art
Each surf fin artwork is painstakingly hand carved from lino and hand printed. With every purchase, you’re investing in craftsmanship by an experienced printmaker. Prints are on acid free paper and use artist grade pigments, to ensure the bold and beautiful details last.
Now for the tough bit… choose your favourite images below. Simply click on them and you’ll be taken to Tom’s Carve Fin Art website.
If you decide to buy one of these awesome prints, enter the code ‘surferdad’ in the coupon code section at the checkout to get 10% off.
I enjoy writing and sharing my love of surf culture with you. I only ever promote things I genuinely like and believe in.