Nich Zalmstra

Nich Zalmstra

Nich (aka Zalmpy) is the latest in the Le Sunshine artist profile series… People

About 12 months ago there was a tasty little beach break down at the river-mouth. Only a handful of us knew about it and every morning, just after dawn, we’d all paddle out, conspirators to that most unique treat, uncrowded, glassy peelers. And… that’s where I first met Nich Zalmstra.

Nich Zalmstra

He was usually the first into the water and he always had a smile, but what caught my eye were his boards. From tiny twin-keeled Simmons’ to finless planks that looked impossible to ride.  Flicking a mop of blond curls out of his face, he’d laugh about how he’d glassed the fins in the wrong way, but that it had ended up riding better anyway.

Nich Zalmstra

Such is the casual nonchalance of this lanky lad. He’s cool as they come, but somehow, charmingly unaffected by the scene.

Since seeing his sketches I’d wanted to get a feel for his work. They had the science-journal quality of Da Vinci but with a pop-culture twist. Skulls and bats and bones, all masterfully rendered, but with subtle, cartoon-esque curves.

His mastery of the pencil is infuriatingly casual and it’s matched by a dry wit that accompanies most of his images.

Nich Zalmstra Nich Zalmstra Nich Zalmstra

When I approached Nich about doing a story he explained he had a show coming up and that he’d moved away from monochrome sketches; he was indulging in some colour.

I followed him to the studio space where he was hanging his frames and it was clear he’d ditched the pencils, he was now all about the vector finish. It was the clean lines of Miami vice wrapped in twisted poetry and absurd juxtaposition.

Nich Zalmstra Nich ZalmstraNich Zalmstra

“I smoked a joint last night and got a bit stuck in an internet vortex, it was heavy, I didn’t know where I was or how I got there, I was chasing these rad old designs from Miami and Florida in the 80’s. All palm trees and neon. I’ll give it a few days and then I’ll go back and have a look at what I found, it was pretty weird but pretty fun.”

I was keen to see Nich’s newest board so we went for a surf. The Pass was peeling but it was small and crowded. Nich got a few as I squeezed off some shots. His board has no fins and its rail is sharper on the inside than on the outside.

“Haha, yeah it’s pretty hard to get the hang of it, but it’s super fast and it feels so good when you nail a turn.”

With no fins you can’t do a top-turn, instead you have to let the wave throw you 360 degrees and try to catch a rail as you drop. It’s not conventional, it looks strange and so it sits comfortably under Nich’s arm.

“You have to be willing to lose control sometimes, you have to let go of the daily grind and just go wherever you end up, I can’t see any other way to make art.”

Nich Zalmstra Nich Zalmstra

Nich Zalmstra

Nich went to art school, he tried his hand at photography and drawing and painting, he got a taste for the bitter contrasts of creativity and commercialism and he decided to go to Uni, he wanted a trade. “It’s funny actually, I left art school feeling it was a crazy world where only a select few are recognized. So I went to study graphic design, I think I wanted to be an industrial designer, it seems strange looking back and thinking about it now. But years later here I am, drawing whatever I want and people are starting to take notice. It’s weird the way it all works out.”

For a look inside the mind of Zalmpy, check his Facebook page.

…and over here you can buy his prints, sick!

Nich Zalmstra Nich Zalmstra

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