Author: Drew

Salmon River Run on a SUP!

I had heard a lot about the Salmon River from some of the crew that I paddled the Colorado River with last year.

So about a week into our three month Surf, SUP and Paint Tour, I planned a day to SUP the Salmon River.

Maria and the kids and I had been exploring Idaho for about four days before we got to Riggins, a town that calls itself “the Whitewater Capital of Idaho”.

Right next to Riggins is Lucile, where we set up camp for a few days. Lucile is a one street town where there’s no cell service but plenty of deer, bears and elk.  Our friend John is building a house there along the Salmon River and said we could camp on his property, though he was out of town traveling as well.

I had everything I needed to standup paddle the river except for one thing:  a life jacket. On the drive to Lucile I was telling Maria that we needed to find a place to buy one.  Then, a few minutes later, on a desolate road nestled between 10,000 foot peaks, I saw something lying in the middle of the road.  It was a brand new lifejacket! I turned the van around and picked it up.  Now, I had what I needed to SUP the Salmon:

  • A lifejacket and WRSI Whitewater helmet (‘cause if you fall and hit your head on the rocks, the party is over)
  • Riviera Paddle Surf inflatable paddleboard (brand new prototype)
  • Kialoa Paddle
  • Ocean & Earth’s “world’s strongest” Leash (if you lose your board on the river, it keeps going!)
  • Patagonia 2 mil full suit (realized later that I didn’t really need this – the water wasn’t as cold as I thought and I didn’t fall as much either)
  • Keen Gorge boots (this allowed me to jump off the board onto rocks without destroying my feet – this was the most important piece of safety equipment in my opinion)
  • Go Pro camera (make sure you know how to use it – I put it on the wrong setting and it didn’t get any pictures!)
  • Good attitude and a cool wife to take photos as you SUP on by!

I put into the river at Shorts Bar.  It’s a killer sandy beach where we spent the day trying out our new paddleboards in the river.  There’s a nice little eddy there that the kids could paddle around in.

Maria tracked me from the road in the Dream Machine and took pictures from the bank.  There are great lookouts at each rapid, so it was easy for her to pull over and get some photos as she watched me surf the rapids.

This time of year the river is running low and the rapids are minor, but enough to give you a good thrill.   The Riviera Inflatable Standup Paddle board was perfect for this river, since the water was low and there were a lot of sharp rocks that other boards would be damaged by.

The biggest rapid is called Time Zone – it’s right before the bridge at the far north end of Riggins. Time Zone is a long, snaking rapid with a ledge running down the right side.  The current zig zags back and forth, all the way down to the bridge. I stuck that rapid, swinging left to avoid the ledge.  I was pretty stoked – it’s been a year since I’ve run a rapid.

After Time Zone, there were about a dozen smaller rapids with a lot of space in between to rest.

This is big country out here!

Along the way I saw big horned sheep, deer and beautiful landscapes.  It was really peaceful being on the river alone.

It took me two hours to go 11 miles.  I ended at the boat ramp on John’s property in Lucile.  Dylan ran down and handed me a beer when I got out!

I wanted to do it again, but it was getting dark and the kids were hungry.  We were headed to Montana at 5 a.m. the next morning.  I’ll have to come back another time, but in the spring when the water is higher and the rapids are gnarlier!

I think any surfer or standup paddle enthusiast could do this run safely during the summer at this water level.  Spring would be more challenging.  If you were spending a few days up there, you could do the run a couple times a day and then drive further up river and do a longer run, where there are bigger rapids and killer standing waves.  I can’t wait to come back!

Life is good – Drew

See the Video, below:

One of my newest license deals is with a custom flip-flop company called Sandalista.

(See the official Press Release here)

They create print-on-demand sandals and have an awesome printing process, which works great with the bright colors in my art.

They started with a dozen of my designs, and I’ll be adding new ones every quarter or so.

They also print the art of other artists.

So far, people love them.  You can see all of my flip-flop sandal designs here at

(Thanks to all of my friends and family members who have already bought a pair for the summer!)

Sandalista wrote a press release about our partnership, which you can read on PRLOG.



As an artist, I am always looking for inspiration.

I often get asked “how do you make a living as an artist?

In the last few years the economy was difficult and the old ways of doing business didn’t work anymore.  I see a new way of doing business going forward.

Big companies are cutting back, many people are losing their jobs and I can’t rely on corporations to keep me afloat with commissions anymore.

The people who have kept us in business during the lean years are the entrepreneurs, the do-it-yourselfers, the people who are creating their own opportunities, and in effect, ours too.

I’m inspired by individuals who refuse to give up on their dreams and who make things happen, instead of looking for a handout from someone else.

In our business I see people like this who inspire me every day.  Davon Julius’ Pipeline Catering project is a perfect example of American ingenuity and grass-roots entrepreneurship.

Davon had a bold idea:  He saw an opportunity to create a mobile restaurant that caters to pipeline workers in a rural area of Utah.  He envisioned transforming an 18 wheeler into a kitchen and café where he could set up in remote areas where workers needed to be fed.

This is where I came in.  Davon wanted to make his café stand out on the side of the road.  He came up with the idea to hire me to paint flaming pigs on the side of his trailer.

(You can watch the painting of it in a short video titled Drew Brophy Paints a 53′ Flaming Pig Mural on a Tractor Trailer)

At the bottom of this post, there’s a “narrated” slideshow detailing the painting with captions explaining the steps.

I first met Davon a year ago when I standup paddled 225 miles of the Colorado River.  He was one of the rafters going down the river with my group.  A chef by trade, he took charge of our meals for the 16 days of camping alongside the rivers of the Grand Canyon.  We ate well!

Painting a 53 foot mural is a huge project, and I had to travel to Utah to do it.  Davon saw the value that a mural would bring to his business, and so he didn’t flinch at the cost.  We made a family trip of it, and off to Utah we went.

I feel so blessed that through my work and lifestyle, I am able to reconnect with these great people I met while paddling the Colorado River last year, and that I’m able to take my family to meet them.

This is what I envisioned my life to be so many years ago:  my work, family and travel life all together as one big adventure.

We arrived in Salt Lake City and Davon had parked the trailer in a dusty, plowed field behind his home.  He was working hard building the kitchen and he expressed that friends were concerned about what the hell he was doing.  They didn’t get his vision.

Often, people with big ideas find themselves alone until after all the hard work is done, then everyone else can see the beauty in it.

I told Davon “Don’t worry, after today, people are going to get it.  This is going to transform instantly, as soon as I start painting.”

Initially, my goal was to have it started and completed in five days.  Below is the breakdown of the process of the mural painting:

Materials Needed:  200 cans of Mtn 94 Spray paint – Iwata airbrush and paints – scaffolding – blue tape – Aerial 7 headphones for music – sandpaper – razorblades – rulers –

DAY 1:  My goal on Day 1 was to map out the sketch and have base colors on the entire surface of the trailer.

Davon had pre-scuffed the surface, taped off the edges and was busy preparing last minute dents and holes.

Dylan and I began chalk-lining gridlines so that I could transpose the sketch onto the huge surface as Maria unloaded the 200 cans of Mtn 94 spray paint that was going to make all of this possible.

It was hot, but I dressed in a hoody, with a respirator, headphones and gloves.  I put on the astro-fat caps that allow me to put down massive amounts of paint quickly.

For the rest of the day I blasted music along with paint.  Davon was amazed that by the end of Day 1, all the color was on!

Day 2:  This was an easy day.  The weather was hot and sunny. It was record highs for Utah in April.  Day 1 all the base colors were mid-tone, and on Day 2 I added the lights and darks.

This day went remarkably well, and I was thinking that I might get this finished in three days instead of five.  That was before I knew the weather that was about to hit us.

Day 3:  This day started out beautiful with sunny skies.  A storm was coming, but I was hopeful that we may miss the weather and still get this done on Day 3.

Dylan kept busy by playing with the chickens and wild roosters in the field.  All day long those roosters were crowing.

I broke out the Iwata airbrush and started adding detail to the funny characters; the buzzard, the pigs and the rattlesnake.  This was the fun part!

Then, about noon, the sky turned black.  Davon, always prepared, had huge tarps ready to go on the roof of the trailer.  We got ready for the rain by throwing down the tarps.  Just then, the wind picked up at 40-50 miles per hour, throwing Davon and I around like rag-dolls across the field.  It was gnarly!

It took us the rest of the day just to secure and protect the mural from the extreme weather.  We were exhausted.  There went my plan to finish early!

Day 4:  Was a bummer.  Water was leaking all over the mural.  It was a constant battle of man vs. rain.  The wind was so violent that it threw cinder blocks off of the roof of the trailer, almost killing us.  The temperature dropped so much that I had to wear gloves because my hands were cold.

I didn’t get much painting done on Day 4.  It was a losing battle.  I decided to go inside and make stencils for the lettering.

It’s funny, people will ask me how I make things like my stencils, and the answer is surprisingly simple.

The stencils are made with simple construction paper, a pencil, a razor blade and tape.  These are the tools that I used to make my stencils.  No fancy machine that cuts out lettering for me.  I’m amazed that in this computer age so many young artists don’t know how to use a ruler, simple math and a razor blade.

I cut the stencils out to scale perfectly.  It took a lot of time and patience and focus.  But in the end, it worked.

Day 5:  We were staying at Davon’s mom’s awesome mountain house in Park City.  The morning of Day 5 we woke up to beautiful snow covering my van and the world outside.  Our commute to Salt Lake City was about 35 minutes each way, and the drive is on beautiful mountain roads.

But down in Salt Lake City, the rain and wind were still a problem.

I was determined to get this finished today.  Working underneath the tarp was super difficult.  But we had no choice.

The finished mural!

Davon did everything he could to stop the rain from getting in.  He bought more tarps and parked his truck on the tarps so they wouldn’t blow away.  We collected every rock, board and heavy object from the field and placed them on the tarp, trying to hold it down.

I finished the detail work with the airbrush.  The final thing to do was spray the lettering.  The custom-made stencils worked beautifully.

After spraying the stencils, I re-taped the lettering, adding a background behind the lettering.  This detail added depth and energy to the lettering.

One of the most fun things was pulling the tape.  Davon pulled the tape to reveal the name, PIPELINE CATERING, on the side of his new restaurant!

Just then, the rain stopped and the sun came out.  The storm was over.  We went up to the roof of the trailer and kicked the tarp off to see the finished mural from afar, for the first time.

It was awesome to see the results of our hard work.

The mural was finished in five days.

PARTYTIME!  That night, we celebrated at Davon’s mom, Shelly’s, home.  She also was on the Grand Canyon river trip last year, and she and her husband Barry hosted a party with almost all of the 14 people that were on that trip.  We watched Go Pro video of our adventure down the Colorado River and talked story all night.

It was so great to reconnect with these wonderful people and let them meet my family.  This is what life is all about.

I was honored to paint this mural for Davon’s project and see how one man’s dream and hard work materializes right in front of your eyes.  The restaurant is finished, and now people “get it”!

I’m sure Davon is working hard in his restaurant right now, feeding hungry workers.  If you happen to drive through Northern Utah, and you see flaming pigs, stop and get a bite to eat!

Life is Good – Drew


Last year I painted PANHE to be used for the cover of The San Clemente Times Earth Day edition.

To prepare for the painting, I spent the day at last year’s Panhe Earth Day celebration and learned as much as I could about the history of the area.

PANHE is a beautiful place in San Clemente that was inhabited by the ancient Acjachmen Indians and is estimated to be about 9,500 years old.   Me, Maria and Dylan go hiking back there sometimes. There’s an ancient Indian burial ground up on the hill that’s protected by law.

One of the reasons I live in San Clemente is the beautiful natural setting of this San Onofre and Trestles surfing area.

It is the LAST undeveloped, naturally intact coastal area in Southern California.  It’s filled with wildlife that you can see while walking down the trails to go surfing.

I’ve seen deer, bobcats, coyotes and giant rattlesnakes on the trails.

Then there’s the sea life:  whales, dolphins, sharks, halibut and calico bass.  I have yet to see the elusive mountain lion, but I know they’re out there.

I find it extraordinary that as little as a few hundred years ago, this valley and San Mateo Creek was filled with thousands of Indians living off the land, calling this place home.

This beauty is under constant threat of development from outsiders, who do not know or care about its wonders.  If we can get enough people to care about the area, we can keep it intact.

The painting is meant to show how special this place is and that it should be preserved for all time.  Now, this year the artwork is being used for the PANHE Earth Day Celebration posters and advertising.

THIS SUNDAY, ON EARTH DAY, the San Onofre Foundation will be holding the PANHE Earth Day Celebration at San Mateo Campground.

I’ll be there at noon, signing posters and enjoying the native dancers and story tellers.  If you are local, come on by!

Life is Good,   Drew

PS:  The original painting was sold to a local realtor, who gave it to one of her clients as a gift.

Sometimes I feel like I'm pushing through concrete

I had a conversation with a friend yesterday who has worked in the surf industry for many years.  We were discussing business, the economy and life.

He was complimenting me on my great success.  This is a man I respect.

I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I feel like a failure.

The surf industry and the private club that it has become has not been very supportive of me.  To some I am just some kook who will not go away.

I make a living despite them because real people and real surfers can see me and they know who I am.  I guess in some ways I do feel successful, but not in the terms most people validate themselves.

My career has not brought me great wealth, but has allowed me to pursue  my goals and dreams.  My life is full of adventure, with great people, a wonderful family, and a freedom few enjoy.

I would love to have more financial stability but not at the cost of what I think is right or just.

Earlier in my career, I quit the two best gigs I ever had in the surf industry;  the first tried to tell me I could not create art after work, they held my job over my head trying to try to instill fear in me and the other employees, by using me as an example.  I quit on the spot because it was wrong.

I left the second company when it went in a direction I did not approve of, with new people I did not trust or want to work with.  That was difficult to quit; I had to leave everything I worked so hard for and start over.  My so called friends there  thought I was stupid wasting my opportunities and turning down a great pay check.

Many Companies do not want to employ people like me, they want robots, yes-men and paper pushers.  That’s just not me and I am not going to change for anyone.

I want to get things done and speak my mind.  They want to use me but they do not want me in their club to tell them they have become what all real surfers despise.

It seems I have always been here on the fringe, an outsider, independent. It is a very lonely place sometimes.

I know that I am lucky that enough people outside of the industry, like my art and can see me for who I am, to stand by me.

My wife and I could not have picked a more difficult way to make a living, but we have persevered beyond the surf industry and tried to lead the way for others like us.

We have had to invent new ways to do business as an artist and it has been a benefit to all artists.   I have been a professional artist now for over twenty years and we have survived the last few years where many have not.  I guess that is success.  It has been real people who have supported us over the years, and anyone who has met us in person knows what we are all about.

Our goal is to inspire people, and from reading many of your letters and feedback it has worked.  Thank you for allowing me to chase my dreams and feed my family, it is only with your support that we do so.

 I want to leave you with this request:  Support people and companies who are up to good things.  Abandon the false role models and leaders who occupy our world.
Somewhere out there beyond all the greed, advertising, propaganda, and spin is the truth.  The world has become so complicated and corrupt that it is broken, from politics to banking to the silly surf industry, and maybe even the business that you’re in.
We are all responsible for what we tolerate, what we buy and what we choose to support.
Wake up!  This is your only true power and voice.
I owe my simple career and what my friend calls success to the individuals who decided I was worthwhile and that I was up to good things.
There are many great role models, companies, and leaders out there, they need our support to succeed.
Life is Good,