Bradley Beach surfer and artist Ronnie Jackson first made a name for himself in the local surf community with his natural ability in the water and his hardcore approach to wave riding. Over the years Jackson has also built a business called “Carvin-Art” based around his surf centric art work and carved three dimensional creations.

The last time I saw Ronnie we were surfing out front of the Stone Pony a few years back. Clean and punchy head high bowls were coming through with only a few guys in the water. It was one of those days that sticks in your mind for a lifetime. Ronnie was destroying the lip of each wave in his usual form.

I recently caught up with Ronnie to talk surfing and art.

Zappo: When and where did you start surfing? What are some of your earliest memories of surfing?

Jackson: Being persistent! I grew up in Sea Bright and started surfing around 8 years old. Seems like there were waves everyday.I was running around with friends, surfing and going to beach parties. Just your typical kid. The waves in town were good, with multiple jetties. As I grew up I started hitting new spots. Sandy Hook was a place with a long right hander and a cobble stone high tide spot. I was taken in by the older crew and memories of a lifetime started! Guys like Scott “The General” Thompson, Rol Woolson, Gary Germain, Bill “Wilbur” Caldwell, Derf Mc Tigh, Ernie, Jimmy Hines, Seano and The Hopper brothers.

Art-5One of Jackson’s carved surfboards

Zappo: Coming up as a young surfer what was your local scene like? What was the vibe, where were the spots and who were the guys that were holding it down?

Jackson: Spots were from Sandy Hook to N.L.B. (North Long Branch). The wall, what an arena. Compact jetties, variety of waves and lots of history. Always a party at the north end. Made so many friends there and still do. I currently surf and hang there with the boys today. North end pride!

Zappo: You have a powerful and aggressive approach to surfing; anytime I’ve seen you in the water you’re getting a lot of waves and always putting the board hard on rail. How would you describe your surfing and who were some of your influences?

Jackson: Back in the day it was all rail surfing. Watching the older guys, Sandy Hook had some long waves. Great for speed and setting up turns, putting it on rail! I was an active and physical kid. Playing sports, especially taking a liking to football. I did well with it and I liked the contact. I took that to the water, giving every turn all I had. My influences were local and the pros. Tom Curren, Martin Potter, Shaun Tomson, Mark Richards and Buttons. Then Dean Randazzo, he gave all of us East coasters hope!

Art-3Highlands bridge scene

Zappo: Surfing is an art-form unto itself, but you are also an “artist”. How did you get started creating and do you have any formal training?

Jackson: Surfing is an art-form! To be an artist and to surf is truly amazing. Surfing helps the art and the art helps the surfing. Surfing is “art fuel”. After a surf, having that down to earth experience, taking that to the studio you just “flow”.
There’s no formal training. Just many hours of drawing, album covers, etc. There was an obvious natural artistic ability as a kid.


Zappo: You work in a few different mediums but what you really are known for is you carved pieces. I’ve seen a bit of the process through photo and the stuff is just mind blowing. Tell
us a bit about the process and how it all comes around to a finished piece?

Jackson: My carved boards are a ton of fun to create, foam is an awesome medium. Again, being around boards my whole life, made this a natural medium. I use the same materials as building a surfboard. Recycling old boards starts by ripping off the glass. In some cases I leave the glass on in certain areas, as a layering effect, using designed bits to achieve desired effects. Then applying resins, top coats, paint and clear coats. They look awesome under gallery lighting, it creates shadows and highlights. A true three dimensional piece of art.

Ronnie-Jackson-by-Ryan-StruckRonnie getting barreled. Photo by Ryan Struck.

Zappo: What are some of the challenges and rewards of making a living as an artist?

Jackson: For me the reward is the freedom that comes with self employment. I’m making people happy through my art and that is very satisfying. I have more time to be around for my family, kids and I have a constant eye on the ocean. The downside is inconsistent pay can add some financial stress, it makes it challenging at times. I just stay persistent and my work has integrity.


Zappo: You’ve been surfing a long time and personally I enjoy interviewing surfers who are a bit older because I feel there is an experiential wisdom that comes with many years spent in the water. What are some of the lessons a life of surfing has taught you?

Jackson: Surfing has taught me patience, in and out off the water. Respect for the ocean, in and out. Surfing has taught me about friendship, nature, the joy of simple things and appreciating life.

Zappo: Any last thoughts or shout outs?

Jackson: I would like to give a shout out to my Marianna and my kids. My Mom and Dad, family, friends and to my aunt Alice. Haufman R.I.P. SURF FOR LIFE!

Check out more of Ronnie’s work at


  1. Pete Flores says:

    Yeah Ronnie! You go bro.

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