John Severson, well known as the creator of the internationally acclaimed SURFER Magazine, grew up surfing off the beaches of Southern California. He began his career as a painter, selling his first works while finishing his Master’s Degree. In the 50's he became the first person to create a large body of art relating to the Hawaii-California surf culture. Since then Severson has provided a steady output of oil paintings, watercolours, drawings, and prints.
In 1958, Severson used his art, photography, and surfing passion to create a popular surf movie series. His films included SURF SAFARI, SURF FEVER, BIG WEDNESDAY, and PACIFIC VIBRATIONS. The posters, smash hits in the 50's and 60's, remain collector favourites. As a surfer, Severson was known for riding big waves, and for his innovative performance style in big surf. In 1961, he won the Peru International Surfing Championships and was a finalist in the U.S. and Hawaiian Championships.
Over the years, Severson has continued a parallel career in photography; his work has appeared in LIFE, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, PARIS MATCH, GERMAN STERN, and others and was selected for a ’60s SPORTS ILLUSTRATED SPORT-IN-ART show in New York.
Severson was voted into the Surfing Hall of Fame in 1993, the Walk of Fame at Huntington Beach in 1995, and given a lifetime achievement award by the Surf Industry Manufacturers’ Association as Waterman of the Year in 1997.