Turning Trash to
Treasure Through Art:
Peter Spacek

Henry Bliss, 4ocean Story Producer

Meet Peter!


      Peter Spacek is a seasoned fine artist and illustrator with credits in esteemed publications such as The Surfer's Journal and The New York Times. He embarked on his artistic journey from Eastern Europe, immigrating to the United States with his family at the age of two. Raised in Santa Barbara and later educated at the Art Center in Pasadena, he has dedicated much of his life to chasing waves across the globe and translating his passion into art.

      We first met Peter outside one of our favorite local spots,
Nomad Surf Shop. He was showcasing some of the most incredible surfboard art we had ever seen. As surfers, we crane our necks every time we see a unique surfboard, and Peter’s was no exception. Except it wasn’t that we could envision ourselves riding his boards; it was more the myriad of questions they spurred.

Peter is exactly the kind of artist you hope to meet one day: a genuine purveyor of stories and ideas from legendary beach towns whose perspective on the world is carefully crafted and always appreciated. This is why it makes perfect sense we caught up with him a few hundred yards from shore on the sloop he’s preparing to sail to the Bahamas.

After a brief tour, we went below deck and settled into the cozy salon to learn more about what it takes to repurpose surfboards into beautiful works of art for people who have never surfed and wanted to hang them on their walls.


What is Scrimshaw?

      In 2009, Peter introduced a technique in scrimshaw, utilizing vintage surfboard fiberglass as his canvas. “Scrimshaw is the ancient art of scribing, hand etching, or scratching an image onto a hard surface. Then, ink is applied to seep into the surface. Scrimshaw images were once made by Arctic Inuits and seafarers into whale's teeth and walrus tusks.”


Trash to Treasure

      Peter has pioneered a process where one can use scrimshaw on mediums other than bone. This innovative approach has enabled him to produce captivating and evocative works of art, appealing to both surfers and non-surfers alike.


Tarpon vs Shrimp, Scrimshaw Etching, India Ink, Resin

      While focusing on surfing, he incorporated a more conventional/literal imagery into the art. He refers to this as "modern scrimshaw," and his pieces exude a contemporary aesthetic, yet bear a sense of history owing to the aged fiberglass substrate and salt that accumulates on and into these surfboards. Their luminosity and weathered texture, acquired through years of exposure to the elements, lend them a unique character.


      Peter strives to maintain the fluidity of his initial sketches. Any deviation from this vision results in discarding the piece, while a personal connection and sense of fulfillment indicate its completion.


Mega Sword Fish, Scrimshaw Etching, India Ink, Resin, Glass Eye, Sword Fish Bill

“How do you get your inspiration?”

      “It’s just a stream of consciousness. Something might occur to me, and I’ll draw it; I've always been a drawer. It’s usually something I find kind of funny or a what-if. I’ll draw it, and usually, something else pops to mind about something related to it. It’s how I let my feelings be known, perhaps.”


       Peter Spacek's artistic journey is a testament to his unwavering dedication to his craft and passion for surfing. Through innovative techniques and a keen eye for detail, he has redefined the boundaries of surf art, creating pieces that resonate with audiences on both aesthetic and emotional levels. From his pioneering work in scrimshaw to his surf art illustrations, Spacek's art captures the essence of the ocean and its allure with remarkable authenticity. As he continues pushing the boundaries of his creativity, his legacy as a trailblazer in the surf art community is assured, leaving an indelible mark on the world of art and surfing.


Peter has taken his illustration to create “Ditch Ink,” a company best known for its witty, surf-centric greeting cards. He has also authored three books:

Wetiquette: How to Hang Ten Without Stepping on Anyone's Toes

Surf and Mirth: Cartoons and Drawings

Color the Toon.


      From the bustling streets of New York City to the serene shores of Montauk, Peter’s journey has unfolded like a vibrant tapestry, capturing the essence of surf culture and the beauty of the ocean. Peter continues to inspire through his art, teaching, and storytelling the rhythm of the waves and the spirit of adventure.

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