Surf: Drew Brophy needs your help
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Pay forward to the iconic San Clemente artist who gave so much to surfing
By Jake Howard
In 2001, my future wife and I were looking for an apartment to rent in San Clemente. By chance, we moved into a tiny bungalow upstairs next to Drew and Maria Brophy. Their son, Dylan, was just a little guy back then. Our shared passion for surfing brought us together straight away.
I had seen Drew’s art everywhere, and by then he had become one of the most recognizable surf artists in the business. His collaboration with Matt Biolos and Lost was literally world famous.
On sunny days, Drew displayed his materials in his backyard, and we were incredibly lucky to be able to watch him create. There is something special about watching an artist at work, especially watching Drew do his thing.
Drew’s imagination is inspired by what he saw in the water. He’s a crazy dog ââthat charges big waves all over Mexico to Tahiti. He’s one of those guys who just live for that, a real surfer.
Unfortunately our friend Drew is in the fight of a lifetime. In early November, he contracted COVID-19 and was hospitalized as a result. During this holiday season, when so many loved ones preoccupy us, I have thought a lot about Drew, Maria and Dylan, and I have sent them a lot of positive healing energy.
Drew’s brother James Brophy has set up a GoFundMe campaign to help cover medical bills. According to James, Drew has been in intensive care and has been placed on a ventilator.
âDrew is grateful for the expert care he receives and there is no doubt that he will make a full recovery,â his brother wrote. âHe asks that only positive thoughts of good health and healing be sent out into the universe to strengthen his resolve to be healed and to regain good health. He needs your help to stay strong and continue the fight. Your positive intentions are very powerful and will be received.
By Monday afternoon, December 6, James had raised over $ 22,000 to reach the overall goal of $ 150,000.
For those who didn’t appreciate Drew’s company, he grew up in Myrtle Beach, SC in the 1980s. Insisting that he “had to go out,” he pursued his dreams of surfing at Hawaii.
âI went to the CÃ´te-Nord to paint boards and surf Pipeline. It was the dream, but like everything, I guess, it wasn’t reality, âDrew told me in an interview in 2018.â I had work painting on boards, mostly in the airbrush, because no one really used Posca paint pens. “
âI got to a point where I was painting the boards of the best guys. A big name would come up, explain what he wanted, and I would paint his board, but getting paid was another story, âDrew added in the interview. “I’d be at Pipeline with all these guys, and they treated me like (expletive).”
Disillusioned with his career path, Drew hit the reset button and moved to San Clemente. After all, if you can’t have Pipe in your yard, Lowers are a great second option.
âI rented this garage and this is where I lived when I first moved to California. I met Matt (Biolos) and we hit it off right away, âDrew continued. “It would have been around ’95 or ’96.”
Together, Drew, Biolos and Mike Reola made magic with Lost. The surfboard company ushered in an era of radical, high-performance surfing. And Drew, armed with his Japanese Posca pens, quickly changed the way surfboards come to life.
âThe airbrush is more technical; I knew these pens would allow a lot more freedom and creativity. I knew there was an opportunity there, âDrew said. âWe started to add color and fun to art. We would do whatever we wanted on a board. There were no rules.
Today, Drew and Maria have built an incredible business around Drew’s art. They traveled the world together and were able to turn their dream of collective surfing into a flourishing reality.
Hopefully we’ll see Drew in the water soon. Until then, I will be sending love and light to the Brophy family and everyone who is going through difficult times right now.
Jake Howard is a local surfer and freelance writer who lives in San Clemente. Former editor-in-chief of Surfer Magazine, The Surfer’s Journal and ESPN, he now writes for a number of publications including Picket Fence Media, Surfline and the World Surf League. He also works with philanthropic organizations such as the Surfing Heritage and Culture Center and the Positive Vibe Warriors Foundation.
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