Home Culture Surfing the Canvas: A Q&A with Todd Fischer

Surfing the Canvas: A Q&A with Todd Fischer


Todd Fischer calls himself a surf artist.

Inspired by the three-dimensional and dynamic nature of waves, his paintings often depict surf in a colorful and surreal manner.

If one was to pigeonhole Fischer’s art, one might say it’s informed by his home on the Olympic Peninsula, where mountains and forest are a constant backdrop to waves, at least from a surfer’s view.

Fischer’s commercial work includes surf and snowboard graphics for Lib Tech, labels for local wineries and coffee roasters, and poster art for a variety of events on the peninsula. He also does a lot of work for the nonprofit Surfrider Foundation.

With a gallery in Westport and a newly opened studio/gallery in Port Angeles, Fischer’s style is becoming synonymous with the place he calls home.

Where do you live and why?

Port Angeles, because I love it out here. It has the ocean and the mountains. Everything I want to do is within 30 minutes from where I live: snow, surfing, hiking, mountain biking, stand up paddle boarding. Surfing is probably my main go-to.

I’ve been on the Olympic Peninsula for over 25 years. I was born in Puyallup and after moving around while growing up I just wanted to be on the peninsula.

What came first for you, surfing or art?

Art. I’ve been doing that since I was a kid. I kind of combine the two and use my art to explain why I like surfing. I’m just trying to capture the feeling of surfing to get non-surfers to relate to it. Surfing and art are both things that can make you happy and make you feel whimsical. I try to bring that feeling to my artwork. It’s a fun way to paint.

When did you branch out into art that’s not surf-focused?

A few years ago. I like being in the mountains or being in the water – I’m into most anything outdoors, so my art followed. I’ve done commercial work in the snowboard and ski industry. I’d like to do something mountain bike-related.

Do you have any formal art training?

I’m mostly self-taught. I took art classes in high school and those were usually relatively easy for me. I learned a lot from my mom and my dad. My mom painted a lot when I was a kid and my dad was a really good artist as well.

Do you make art for a living?

Most of my income is from artwork. I started making a lot more art about 10 years ago. I was doing so much and starting to sell to a lot at different places so I thought I could do it as a career.

I have other jobs here and there that help pay the rent. I roast coffee for Rainshadow Coffee Roasting and I guide kayak trips – that helps keeps me outside.

I always thought if I was an artist I could go whenever there is swell. But it’s still a job; there are deadlines. You can’t always drop what you’re doing and surf.