Of all the surfboards perched in the rafters at the Old Princeton Landing, there is only one that displays the carefully crafted art of local artist Pete Collom.
The board, which belonged to longtime Mavericks surfer Ion Banner, is a large 10-foot single-fin gun. Painted on the bottom is a surrealist landscape with the Pillar Point bluffs in the background, and the colors are a clash of red sunset and dark blue waters.
Since moving to the Coastside from Redwood City 12 years ago, Collom has become a standout artist in the community, known for his landscape and surf-themed art. Much of his work can be found in local restaurants and shops rather than in galleries. His work, which can be viewed at petecollom.com, is striking, with vibrant landscapes.
While painting on a surfboard is similar to working on a canvas, it requires different preparations. With boards already glassed, Collom uses sandpaper on the board before applying a primer.
Then he uses a special, thicker primer called gesso that will help the acrylic paint soak into the board.
“There’s a lot of layers of just prepping,” Collom explained. “Because, otherwise, it’s like you’re painting on the glass. You can’t get a good blend. Or it’s so smooth that the brush marks are popping through.”
His art career took off after he started painting classes at a Montara cafe where he worked as a cook. He teaches a variety of painting classes throughout the area, including at Cameron’s Restaurant and Inn in Half Moon Bay and the Pedro Point Brewery in Pacifica.
Collom will also paint on the foam itself before the board is glassed, so the board is still functional and not just for display. To prevent more acrylic from weighing down the surfboard, he blends the paint with water, allowing the final glass to bind to the foam more easily.
He has collaborated on multiple boards with Mike Wallace, the founder of Iconoclast Surfboards and the coach of the Half Moon Bay High School surf team.
“It’s hard to make a living doing the things you’re passionate about, so it’s nice to see somebody who’s able to do that,” Wallace said. “And he does things that reflect back on his community — in a surrealist, Pete Collom sort of way.”