Meet artist and surfer, Jess Lambert, whose hands you might just want on your next surfboard.
If there’s one trait that characterises millennial’s work ethic, it’s the side hustle. Everyone punches a clock at some point, but it's the work done before and after the 9-to-5, where the career dreams truly lie.
For Jess Lambert, a surf shop employee in Byron Bay, Australia, it is her budding business, “Halcyon Lines”, where she commissions her art on virgin silhouettes, that makes her feel most alive, and for good reason. At an art show held by WSL and Firewire in conjunction with the Quiksilver Pro, Kelly Slater told Jess that he was a big fan of her artwork.
“For Kelly to know what I do, it doesn’t get much better than that,” said Jess on the conversation with Slater.
Jess was born June 7th, 1990 in Maitland, Australia, a half hour drive away from the beaches of Newcastle. On weekends, Jess and her family would go to the beach where she was introduced to the sport of surfing. “Even if it was freezing, I’d be in the water,” she said.
The love of surf didn’t takeover till 2012 however, when she moved to Byron Bay after studying Fine Arts at TAFE University.
A year ago today my work went international, this was the first board I ever sent outside of Australia & I'll always remember that feeling, of knowing something I've created with my own hands, is travelling to the other side of the world. This board means so much to me, and it's now all the way over in Texas USA. Since then I've sent art to more places across the U.S, the U.K, Phillipines, China, Denmark & Switzerland. What you make happen is only limited by your thoughts, if you can conceive it in your mind you can turn it into a reality, not overnight, not in a week or month, what I do now has taken years of hard work, countless late nights, and a tonne of pep talks to myself reminding that I can do anything I put my mind to, and that's not just about my art. Thankyou to everyone across the world that has a piece of my art & to everyone else who supports this thing that I love doing. This is just the beginning . . . . #boardporn
After being taught to surf by some friends, Jess went out and bought her first board. “I completely covered it with my drawings, all freehand. I didn’t know it at the time but the board started a whole new path for me and my art.”
Jess picked up surfing quickly. Nine years as a dancer helped contribute to her natural balance and style. “There’s no better feeling than being in the water, there’s no concept of time and stress.It’s the same way I feel when I’m drawing and that’s why I love combining the two by drawing on boards.”
On average, Jess uses three paint pens per surfboard. “I swear my blood is part Posca,” she laughs.
An entrepreneur in every sense of the word, Jess commissions art on surfboards through her website, halyconlines.com. She arranges custom orders from the deep talent pool of Gold Coast shapers, or finds a board off the racks to suit the customers needs. Once she gets her hand on a board, she uses them as canvases to express her creativity. Every piece comes professionally coated so they can be taken out in the surf or enjoyed as a wall hanger.
Her favourite surfboards to draw on are Firewires. “I love working on TimberTek especially. There’s something about hand drawn lines on wood that really stands out.”
Jess has sent pieces all over the world. In 2016 alone, she shipped boards with her artwork to the Philippines, China, Scandinavia, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Last month, she painted two Slater Designs for Kelly with details from his life. “I painted his daughters name, Andy Iron’s initials, and palm trees from a photo I saw of him and his girlfriend, Kalani Miller.
When asked who’s boards she’d like to get her pens on, Jess answered, “I think there’s so many women in surfing that are really empowering young girls to get out there and kick ass and I like that. I’d love to draw for Sally Fitz or Tyler Wright. As for the guys, John John I’m looking at you.”
Of the hundreds of boards Jess has painted, surprisingly the Slater boards weren’t the most time consuming. Jess lost herself in the details the longest on a board she painted for her grandmother.
“In 2014, I won a brand new Rusty in an art contest. The same week, I found out my Nan was diagnosed with cancer. I knew straight away I wanted to do something with my art to help so I organised a fundraiser event with the Australian Cancer Council to win the board. I spent over 40 hours painting that piece. It was a lion, my Nan loves cats so I drew a lion to help keep her strong. That board raised over $7,000 for cancer research and helping patients. All those hours were worth it as my Nan is still with us today.”
I believe it won’t be long until Jess transcends her day job in retail to realise her dream of becoming a full-time-working-artist. With a growing fan base including the likes of Kelly Slater, Jess gets closer to her dream with every board she finishes. “I just want to wake up every morning and paint every day. It is my dream to open a studio to showcase my work and hopefully inspire others to start an art project of their own”.
Cover shot: Mathias Alexandrou