Ross School - Senior Projects 2011


Student: Charlie Forsman

Mentor: Ned Smyth

Domain(s): Art/psychology




Title: Surf Life


For my senior project I shaped, glassed and created a surfboard, with the help of my outside consultant Jim Goldberg. The artwork on the board represents the evolution of the human psyche. I decided to do the art on a surfboard because surfing is passion of mine. The point I am trying to make by these collages is how at some point in our lives a lot of people tend to loose childhood passions. School ends, we look for jobs and start families. Sometimes people just donÕt have time anymore for a passion of theirs. Surfing is my passion and it is something I donÕt want to forget as my life progresses and I did this project to remind me of that.








For my senior project I wanted to do something surf related.  At first I wanted to do a surf film with my surf footage and a few local interviewees. I realized I did not have enough nor would have enough footage to complete a film on time. So I decided making a surfboard would be an interesting senior project considering I break to many surfboards and it would be nice to know how to make my own or at least fix the ones I break. But I didnÕt want to make just a plain surfboard I wanted it to be unique so I started thinkingÉ and somehow I came to the conclusion that I wanted to make a collage on the board. I wanted the collages to represent something, which would remind me never to give up what I love. After talking with Ken Sacks about it.. he suggest I look up a man named erik erikson who describes the stages of life in 8 categories. I decided to make 8 different collages each to represent one of the stages described by erik erikson.



First and foremost my love of surfing

My interest in human psychological development in which Erik Erikson describes

Surf legend and pioneer Gerry Lopez who is well known in the surf community he describes surfing on a homemade board as this more spiritual, special and rewarding feeling then on any normal board



My Goals for this Project were to create a functional surfboard. I am not very great artist and I didnÕt care much for it maybe because of the fact I wasnÕt good at it, I had hoped to broaden my horizons artistically. This is kind of a secret because I should know the names of different styles of boards or tail shapes and the different effects they have riding the wave but I never did. But most important I wanted to make my board more of an art piece then a board to go out and surf.



My process included the following

At first I just started doing research on the evolution of the surfboard. Then I had to find someone who could teach and help me build my board. Ned gave me a bunch of people to contact whom where in the field. Mike Solomon was the only one I got in touch with after a few phone calls. After talking to him he told me he was not the right person to help me create the board but he gave me Jim GoldbergÕs number. When I got in touch with jim he said he would gladly help. Creating the collages took me a lot longer then I had expected. Partly because gathering all the images I wanted to use was rather tedious but once I got them all assembling them into the collages was fun and quick. I had to get the collages onto rice paper in order to put them on the board. I did not know how I was going to get my collages onto rice paper so I called Mike back and he sent me to Warren Pedulla who does prints for a lot of artists. I told him my project and he said he would print my collages very generously for free. In order to print them he needed my collages to be digitized so my dad and I took photographs of each one and gave them to him on a cd.


The first step in creating the board was to shape the foam. To shape the foam a template is traced onto the surface then cut and sanded to the traced line. Second the board is completely sanded all over so get a smooth surface. Once the board is completely shaped it can get glassed.


1-3This is a picture is a roll of fiberglass cloth which is pulled out over the board. And then cut in the general shape of the board.

4-5We rolled back the fiberglass to lay the pictures down and painted a thin layer of resin over them.

6 the fiberglass is rolled back over and a layer of resin is painted over the fiberglass cloth

7 during the process of the resin being painted on

The board is brought outside and the chemicals in the resin are sun activated so they begin to heat up and harden in the sunlight.

This process was repeated on the other side

Then another coat of resin is put on both sides but mike taught me a little trick to add some wax so the next coat wasnÕt as rubbery and sanding it would be easier.

After that the fin boxes are put in which mike had a special tool, which cut them out for you and again another coat of resin is put on and after it dried the board is sanded. The final coat is supposed so be more resin but mike had to leave for costa rica so I had to do the final coat at home with polyurethane which I liked because it turned out super glossy and antique looking. I was supper happy with my final product I had a functional beautiful surfboard that I with a lot of help created.



A completed functional surfboard with my collages on it.

A successful way of showing my board and art.

I was extremely happy the way it all turned out



—How to build a surfboard


—How to not to collage badly, ned helped me with my ÒcollageingÓ skills once I got the hang of it, collageing became fun and natural.


—How to combine the two I thought a lot about how I was going set up my collages on the board.


—Further knowledge of the sport I love




Finding the right person to make my board with wasnÕt so hard but it took a lot of time calling people and waiting to hear back.

Finding images again not hard sometimes fun but mostly time consuming and tedious

And of course time If procrastination was a buisness I would be the CEO

Weather was also an issue because I could not do any coats of resin while it was snowing out because the snowflakes would make marks on the board. And it only dries in the sunlight.



Ned Smyth – for everything would not of made it without

Jim Goldberg – For helping create my board

Warren Pedulla- for printing my images and teaching me how to present my work nicely

Mike Solomon- who connected me with warren and jim

Ken Sacks- For helping me choose what my art was going to represent

Devon Parks- For trying her best to get me to do everything on time

Bill OÕHearn-  also for pushing me to finish and understanding the mix up with my presentation date

My Parents for all their support and help

Ross School for the opportunity


Works Consulted

Goldberg, Jim. Surfboard Building. Montauk. Lecture.


Pedulla, Warren. Printing. Sagg Harbor. Lecture.


Solomon, Mike. Artist. Sagg Harbor. Lecture.


"Erik Erikson." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 16 Feb. 2011. <>.


"Surfing." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 16 Feb. 2011.


Marcus, Ben. "SURFING FOR LIFE -- History of Surfing." SURFING FOR LIFE | A Video Documentary. Web. 16 Feb. 2011. <>.


"History of Surfing | Club Of The Waves." Surfing, Surf Art, Photography & Culture | Club Of The Waves. Web. 16 Feb. 2011. <>.


"The History Of The Surfboard - From Wood To Fiberglass." All About Surfboards - Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Surfboards. Web. 16 Feb. 2011. <>.


Pirsch, Stephen. "How to Build a Surboard." How to Build Your First Surfboard. Web. 16 Feb. 2011. <>.


Outside Consultant


Mike Solomon- connected me with Jim and Warren

Jim Goldberg- Built board with

Warren Pedulla- Printed with and help with setting up exhibit