BERT is derived from Larry Bertlemann, one of surfing’s most innovative visionaries. From board design to competitive surfing, Bertlemann revolutionized the sport. In current street art trends where a single grotesque image is mass produced and placed in the streets for simple shock value without attention to placement or community, BERT attempts to revolutionize this trend by examining a specific culture and conducting a visual commentary represented in a series of one of a kind hand painted street artworks. Each piece is directly motivated by the organic currents of the ASP World Championship Tour.
Bertlemann brought the streets to surfing through skateboarding influenced maneuvers, BERT returns surfing to the streets through surf themed art.
Is there one city more than another that you’ve created one of your pieces?
I’ve installed art in cities up and down the California coast When exploring new cities, I often see multiple walls that I want to hit. If I end up hitting one, but can’t get the other out of my mind, I’ll return.
What was the deciding factor for you to do your first piece of street art?
Each contest presents a challenge and I get stoked on that. It’s a battle between myself and the unforeseen variables of a surfing contest, the creative ability to represent it visually and the ability to get it up in the streets. Everyone loves a challenge, but some don’t have the balls to confront it. I am stoked on it!
Each piece is like a riddle. Without surf trend and industry knowledge, most people won’t get it. I want people to look beyond the face value and reference the ASP WCT. Communities current on surfing trends and industry news are going to pick up on the message. It’s surf nerdy, but deeper than putting some boobs on a bunny and pasting it in the streets for shallow shock value.
Why do the work if you know that it will only be painted over?
Anyone can design, cut and spray a stencil in their garage, but it takes another level to get it up in the streets. The nature of street art is ephemeral. It has a life span like any living thing. It can go at any time, but most of us hope for longevity. Weather, street art collectors and the buffman are all things that can reduce the life span of a piece. It’s just part of the game.
What is your painting background?
My painting background is the urban wall I place my art on. It’s the streets and the community that stumble upon my work. The background is just as important as the foreground. And yes, I have been painting for a long time.
How do you choose where to create your street art?
The color and surface of the wall, the surrounding community and the angle that the art will be viewed by the public are all factors. You put yourself in a vulnerable place when placing art in the streets. You never know what’s swimming below.
Is it hard or getting harder to do street art pieces without being seen?
I’m not going to surf J Bay with a giant chunk of meat attached to my leg. Street art puts you in a sketchy moment where you don’t know what is swimming around the corner. You do your best research and even though you love the rush, you look forward to getting back to the shore unharmed.
How do you know if your work is well-received or instead considered graffiti?
There will always be those who see it as vandalism, but there are also those who request BERT pieces on their walls. It’s all about balance.
How quickly do you turn around a piece once an ASP contest is over?
The initial idea, the production of the piece, the research into a community and wall and the travel accommodations all take time. I don’t rush anything, but I don’t miss anything either.
Do you do commissions?
You win an ASP World Championship Tour contest and I will paint you.
Do you surf?
No and I also do not make art.
When will you paint your next piece?
I work when there is swell. schedule.
Where do you paint?
The beach is that way.