Stuart Smythe - Surf, Travel and Art Ambassador

Photo: David Hewitson
Stu is the man. He is an artist, designer, shredder of surf and all round good guy that cruises to his own beat and pace.

A few years ago he set off on a world trip, made it as far as Bali, his first destination and promptly settled in and made it his permanent home. Living in Canggu a sweet little surf town on the West coast he’s found a creative hub of like minded artistic individuals, surfers and a melting pot of possibilities.

Since leaving Sydney the creative juices have been flowing. Ink has been used on canvas, murals have been painted, street art created and he has had a solo show at Deus Ex Machina. If you’ve been to the famous Single Fin at Uluwatu, or the awesome Cashew Tree at Bingin you would have seen one of Stu’s murals.

When asked if Bali was more conducive to the creative lifestyle Stu had this to say; 

“Yeah I’m creating so much more than I used to. I feel much more freedom to explore ideas away from pop culture and whats “trendy”. Its a trap to be trying to compete with whats out there. Now I try to create from a place of personal value and communication. I try to let it come from a more primal place, as opposed to a trained or preconceived place. It often comes out in elements and stories about our environment. To promote environmental awareness makes me feel worthy as an artist. I think artists have this responsibility to communicate issues of our world, it all adds up to something larger if we all play a part. The ocean, nature and this filthy paradise inspires me to work this way. It all reflects my surroundings and interactions at some point.”

With loads of projects on the go you have to wonder how Stu finds time to surf and travel but these two things are every bit as important to him as art and design are. The list of travel destinations from the last few years keeps growing, Sri Lanka, California, Europe and most recently a trip to Alaska with his girlfriend. The untouched forests, gigantic mountains and crazy power of the Alaskan glaciers blew his mind as did surfing a tidal bore that broke for miles. To sum up his thoughts on travel Stu quoted Henry Miller;

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things”.

Stu’s always surfed good. Actually good is a bit of an understatement, the dude rips. If you imagine that guy at your local break with the buttery style, effortless flow and the occasional banger thrown in for good measure then you have a pretty good idea of how Stu surfs. Recently though single fins and other more alternative boards having been making an appearance in his quiver. Like he says;

“I can paddle out in 1ft and have a smile ear to ear on a nose ride, or on the other end of the scale challenge myself in 6ft barrels - It becomes more about drawing lines and connecting the dots, dancing with the ocean, creating art with nature”.

As far as any plans to move back to Australia or home to NZ, its on the radar for sometime in the future but for now;

“until it chews me up and spits me out I’ll be here I think, while it’s still offering me what I need”