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Artist Of The Search: Alex Krastev

Meet the creator behind the Rip Curl Cup Padang Padang Ten-Year Anniversary artwork.

Name: Alex Krastev
Age: Still acting like a kid. And I get carded when I go out ;)
From: I’m international. I was born in Bulgaria, grew up in Morocco, moved to Canada, and now am living in California.
Currently reside: Huntington Beach, California

How long have you been a professional artist?
Almost ten years now in the surf industry.

How long have you been working for Rip Curl and what exactly do you do?
I am the Senior Artist / Graphic Designer for Rip Curl USA. That puts me in a position to direct and create the art and graphics used for each season throughout the whole clothing line. I work with another graphic artist, and that is the whole art team. We create all the art for the T-shirt line, and I personally do a few cool prints that usually get used by the boardshort department and very often become a cool Hawaiian shirt too. I’ve been with Rip Curl for one year and a half and I can tell you that it’s the best “Real Surf Company” to work for!
What do you know about the Padang Cup and how does it feel to have your artwork on the poster for the Ultimate Tuberiding Contest?
Padang Padang is one gnarly wave! I paddled out and watched from the channel the other day during the Trials, and, man, it’s scary! It feels great to have the poster done. I am already thinking about ideas for next year’s poster! I will make the wave more mean and scary.

What's it been like coming to Bali and seeing your artwork on billboards and t-shirts and in shops all over the island?
It’s great coming to Bali. It’s overwhelming to see the huge billboards 30 meters high all stretched on bamboo pools. I counted 20 plus places that had it up. I saw a plenty of tourists taking photos by the billboards and I asked a few if they’d like to take a photo with the actual artist. They didn’t believe me that I was the one, ha ha.
So what did everyone back in California say when they heard you won the Artist Of The Search competition and were headed to Bali to check out the Padang Cup Opening Ceremony for a few weeks?

Well I showed the boys at work some of the rough sketches before the final poster was done, and they were pretty much sure I would win and everyone was saying, you better pack your bags for Bali. So I kinda got prepared, but still I was waiting for the “you are the winner” e-mail.
This is your first visit to Bali. What's your impression of the place?
I love Bali! It’s majestic, beautiful, natural, the best waves, the people are really friendly and very welcoming! You’ve probably heard it before, but maybe I’ll end up staying here!
Having never been to Bali before, how did you make your artwork so true to the wave at Padang Padang? How did you decide on the style of artwork you did?
It was a challenge for me to create the art. I spent hours and hours on the internet looking at photos of temples, monkeys, fishing boats, all the rocks on the beach, all the angles of the wave at Padang Padang breaking, ornaments, everything that you could imagine. Once I saw how much I had to deal with, I had to do a few fast concepts and sketches of the layout. It was even harder because there is a lot of good stuff to include in the poster, but I had to be selective.
I had a basic sketch initially, and I knew I had to put the wave in the middle and surround it by all the elements. I had 4-5 different ideas but the one that stuck was the original first sketch. I usually stick with the first one, because it’s the most authentic. The second and third are just options to see how it would look. I used 4-5 different styles for the poster. The wave itself is watercolor, the elements like the monkey the temple and the frame is all ink on paper.
I used a coffee-stained paper to give a little bit of old and vintage look, and the main logo is all ink and pencil. I finished it all in Photoshop, but I had some elements that I made using Illustrator. I collaged the whole background and “fake stitched” all the separate drawings.
Do you ever get nervous when you get asked to do the artwork for a big-time surf contest like Padang Cup?
I wanted to create a poster for a real big surf comp like this one for so long! I was always studying posters by guys like Phil Roberts, Rick Rietveld and Chris Lundy. I guess they are my inspiration. I was more excited than nervous.
You got to attend the Rip Curl Cup Opening Ceremony. What did you think?
The opening ceremony was amazing! The traditional Balinese kecak dance was insane. All the riders were there, including my favorite surfer, Christian Fletcher. It was so sick! I wish my two cameras didn’t break. One ran out of battery and the other one got stuck because of the humidity. But I got the real moments engraved in my brain forever!
What do you think about the fact that proceeds from the sale of the t-shirts you design will help fund environmental and waste management projects to protect Uluwatu?
It’s great there are people working to help keep the beach clean. The first day I came to Padang it had been raining and there was so much trash on the beach. But the Rip Curl Planet team showed up early for a beach cleanup and there was not a single bottle on the beach after that. It’s important to preserve every beach, but especially these world-class surf spots like Uluwatu and Padang Padang beach. I would love to come back next year and see it all clean and perfect.
Who is your pick to win the 2013 Rip Curl Cup Padang Padang?
Wow, heavy one. Two of my favorite surfers are in the event this year – Occy and Christian Fletcher. I’ll go for Fletcher, because he’s like my idol. When I first started surfing I was skating a lot. I asked my friends, is there someone who does airs in surfing like skateboarding. And they said, Christian Fletcher! So that stuck.
Thanks to Rip Curl Asia, James Hendy, Jeff Anderson, and everyone I have met here! I can’t wait to return!

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