Last weekend, in the parking lot of a Rip Curl store located just a stone’s throw from Swamis in Encinitas, CA, a street artist who goes by the moniker Madsteez stood on top of a towering ladder with a spray can in his hand. A crowd of locals watched as he put the finishing touches on a large-scale mural he had been painting for days on the shop’s façade. With each new layer of paint, a vivid, barreling righthander came to life. A Kaleidoscope of color–gradients of yellows, oranges, reds, purples and blues—blended together on an acid-drenched wave face.
The mural, which you can now glimpse while cruising north on the 101, stamped the new collaboration between Rip Curl and the artist formally known as Madsteez–or, if you know him personally, as Mark Paul Deren. For over a decade, Madsteez has garnered international recognition for his brightly-colored, large-scale exterior paintings–mostly renditions of characters, both strange and familiar, depicted with purple faces in front of graphic backgrounds. Just recently, while visiting Australia, Madsteez daubed the faces of Mick Fanning, Tyler Wright and Gabriel Medina on the front of the Bells Beach Rip Curl store.
When he’s not painting huge renderings on the side of buildings, Madsteez spends his free time surfing. Madsteez claims that his first passion is, first and foremost, riding waves. According to the edit above—wherein which Rip Curl team rider Mason Ho interviews the artist–his trademark color palette was partly inspired by the tropical-hued sunsets he would see while on surf trips to Bali.
“The sunsets were so violet and they would go these crazy oranges and then burning reds so it was almost me witnessing that for the first time and coming back home and being so inspired and that’s when I just started painting,” says Madsteez.
But his obsession with surfing wasn’t the only thing that guided him as an artist. Madsteez was born blind on one eye, but rather than seeing nothing at all in his bling eye, the artist now sees “wild ass colors,” as he describes it, through his left eye. This, he explains, is the main reason he paints his subjects as purple beings. “Everything stems from how I see the world,” he says. “At the time [when he was diagnosed] there was 60 known cases. It’s this weird, rare anomaly that’s creating art from how I see out of my blind eye.”
“Everything I create, I first and foremost create for myself,” says Madsteez. “And it’s so wild to step back and look at something that may have just been a white wall before and I can transform worlds by what I can do. And that is so wild and I get super excited every time that happens.”