I had the pleasure of meeting an upcoming surfboard artist in Eastern North Carolina. Mickey June has a style that is unique, beautiful, and bold. I brought her a ten foot Rusty single-fin that was snapped when a heavy lip took her fiberglass life. Not having the heart to get rid of a log that once allowed me to dance with amazing peeling waves, Mickey breathed new life into the disabled board with beautiful images of violent waves and the feminine character to bring them upon her soul. Every part of me was aching to have a few words with her on her style and general outlook on life and Mother Ocean. Enjoy the artwork and the verbal exchange into the inspirations and viewpoint of a true surfboard artist!
What got you started in art? Was it something that you’ve always done? Walk me through your art evolution.
I have always been an artist from as far back as I can remember. I constantly drew. It was always obvious it was something I wanted to do and it got me excited since I can remember. But art is not something you “makes money” [Laughs]. I wasn’t really pushed by anyone in particular to just go for that. I didn’t really take an art class outside of the grade school stuff. I took my first art course in college, and I got a D in it, because it was just so technical and I just had such a raw style. I wanted to do it, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do. My mom pushed me and told me I had this style that people would want, but I didn’t know where I wanted to put it. And stationary was her big thing. She made me do it for all her friends [Laughs]. But the problem was, this was not the type of art I wanted to create, and where I wanted to put it. So I just kind of backed away from that for a little bit then didn’t do art for a while. I was always doing tattoos, and a line of my friends wanted that work. The surfboard thing was when I was really thinking, “this was something that would really be cool”. I did it for Ben [boyfriend] for his birthday because I was broke. It was Grateful Dead on the back of my first board. And it has long since faded because I didn’t know what I was doing. But I loved it, I just absolutely loved it. It was just cool.
So obviously you have certain customers that give you guidance on how they want to see where their board wants to go with the art, but in the situation where it’s just you and what you want to be on a board, where do you get your inspiration from?
It depends on what I’m doing that particular day. But I would say that Wrightsville Beach has been what has inspired me the most. Surfers are so brave and have such a sick style, and it’s not a conscious thing. They are just courageous, and they’re style is bright colors and the people are just free to be who they are here. To me, that is what is inspiring. Old school tattoos also interest me!
Physically where do you enjoy doing artwork? What’s the environment you do your best work?
That’s a good question, because it is something I have struggled with. I have done artwork in so many weird places. Because it’s a surfboard, it’s not like you can throw it down on a table. You have to think about it! Just with two chairs, in the yard and in the sun, because it gives me that natural light that you can’t get anywhere else.
When you go with your own thing, obviously one of the factors is the Ocean in your artwork. What kind of emotions from the Ocean do you try to capture? The violent, the serine, the calm…what about Her do you particularly like?
I would say definitely the raw, unpredictable, and unstoppable power that could care less whether you are around or not. I just think that it’s pretty and unbelievable that we have the ability to take a board out there and see if we can ride a massive wave. Waves are nuts!
Do you surf?
We are all learning.[Laughs]
What’s your ideal day to be out surfing: what are the conditions, who are you with, that sort of thing.
For me it would be in Wrightsville Beach, after a long night of having fun. When you wake up and the only thing that’ll get your day started is a good surf. I like to go get it out of my system. Sometimes you might get sick in the water. It’s the physical activity in the salt water and out in the sun. It’s just fun, and inspires me for my art.
So why surfboards? Artists have a wide variety of canvas that they can choose to paint on. Whether it’s paper, skin, leather. What drove you to pick surfboards as the receptacle of your visual thoughts and actions?
In the beginning it wasn’t as obvious as it is now. It is just the shape of the boards. I have a very good vision of the way to draw based off of shape, and I think it is just so beautiful how the board is. The Greeks learned how to paint around pottery, and it’s so amazing because it is that which changes the art, because you have to think about it. It’s like giving a board a personality. When you get down to the curves, you don’t have that much power because it is so limiting; yet extensive. Then you take a surfboard out in the waves. And that is what I really enjoy is seeing artwork out on in the Ocean, and put to good use!
So what is your favorite type of surfboard to paint on? Do you have any preferences? I just dropped off a ten foot longboard in two pieces, so that can give you a lot of space for creativity, but I imagine a flatter longboard doesn’t necessarily always give you the shape or curvature that you might be looking for like a shortboard.
It is quite large! I’ll have to get back to you with the two piece longboard. But I would have to say the shorter, sharper boards. It really doesn’t much matter, because to me it is what you put on the board. Every board has an inner character that you have to find, and visually bring out.
A lot of artists have certain favorites that they like to paint. Do you have anything that you always try to work into your artwork?
Definitely. If I can, I love to paint women. I think that there is something about the Ocean: That feminine aspect. There is just a wild mystery about women and the waves. But I have done boards without them and had just as good as a time! But just color and energy is what I always try to get in there. And I do like painting pinups!
So what is your favorite board that you have painted? If you were to pick one of these that I have taken pictures of.
My favorite is with the mermaid. It’s just watching her and building her. It took me forever to make her look the way I had it in my head. My heart went into that mermaid!! [Laughs]
You’re obviously open to customers. Are you available?
Absolutely! A lot of surfers think that blank boards are the way to go, but I think that given what you’re going up against you should have something with energy and artwork. Like a shield that shows your personality. And it should be ridden, not just artwork. When it snaps in half, hang it up on your wall.
Do you have anything that you want to put out there?
I think that surfing and the surf culture is such a necessity in this world. You can still grab a board and go ride the most dangerous thing. The fact that you can harness that power as a human is amazing. If I can bring people in with my artwork that aren’t already surfers, I would hope that bringing the Ocean to them could make their life better and clearer.
I thoroughly enjoyed this interview with such an inspirational person, and an artist in the truest of senses. If you have a surfboard that is dying for some unique art, then contact her. She is open to clients and you will not be disappointed, as seen with these few samples above. I know I couldn’t be happier with my snapped ten footer, and my only regret is that I can’t take this magnificent board out in the waves.
Mickey June’s artwork and biography can be seen at http://www.artistecard.com/mickeyjune.
She can be contacted through her business facebook page located at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mickey-June-Surfboards/154976197894332.