John Van Hamersveld is an icon in Southern California culture, or maybe more aptly described as a creator of icons, credited with many graphics and images that celebrate Southern California. He launched his professional career as the art director at ‘Surfer Magazine’. Then his poster for the classic surf film ‘The Endless Summer’ became an image that is an emblem for surf culture itself.
John Van Hamersveld always seems to have his finger on the pulse of popular culture, one step ahead of the crystal ball, a combination of keeping his mind open and his ambitions ever-reaching.
Artists and scholars of different disciplines refer to Van Hamersveld and his work as a magical enigma, describing him as a man “of a different mind”, and speaking in awe of his ability to capture the essence of a whole time period in a single piece.
Spontaneity is not part of his approach. He has the designer’s sensibility, not the artist who draws. Every inch, every wiggly worm is carefully considered. Even in his animated, futuristic style work his negative shapes are as important as his positive ones.
The drawing process continues flowing into detail with pen in hand, as Van Hamersveld explores patterns through the drawn image. This means that any given drawing derives from many hours of his contemplation in an almost trance-like state. The accumulation of experiences from the past truly become the past. As Van Hamersveld draws in the zen of the moment, with each hour's focus on the pen in front of the paper.
Known for his psychedelic patterns and vivacious color schemes, Van Hamersveldʼs images capture the essence of their subject, distilling the most powerful elements of a picture down to a graphic icon that becomes an emblem of a feeling, movement, or a way of life. Johnʼs work captures these subcultures so well because he experienced and interpreted them incessantly.
These iconic sensibilities and transformative designs he produced were beneficial in the conception of logos, typography, and complete graphic identities for such brands as Fatburger, Contempo Casuals, Gotcha, JIMMY’Z. Product design for Van’s, Billabong, Disney, Electric Eyewear and Obey Giant.
Van Hamersveld also designed more than 300 album covers, most famously the Stones' "Exile on Main Street" and the Beatles' "Magical Mystery Tour”. He’s created
Historic rock posters for Jimi Hendrix, Cream, and Jefferson Airplane, and so many more.