John Severson- A Tribute To The Founder Of The Surfer Magazine

John Severson- A tribute to the founder of the Surfer Magazine

The Early Life

In 1956 Army Draft, John Severson was assigned illustrative work with a focus on creating maps, and he was based at Oahu in Hawaii. He was part of the Army surfing team. He filmed a lot of surfing sites. It was his original materials for his film “Surf.” In 1958, He got discharged from the Army.

Journey With The Surfer Magazine

The pioneer of the modern surf writing, John Severson founded the Surfer Magazine in 1962. He framed the surfing lifestyles in paintings, photographs, and films. He is considered to be a pioneer who treated the Surfing as a subject matter of fine arts, and he is also responsible for starting media writing on surfing through a dedicated magazine highlighting Surfing and the surfers. Due to his efforts, the sports industry began to recognize Surfing as a sport worldwide.

A semi-abstract painting of surfers lounging on a beach that was painted by Severson was selected as the best cover painting of the year by the communication art magazine. The name of the picture was “Surf BeBop,” and it appeared in the 1963 edition of Surfer Magazine.

John Severson compared surfing experience to a wonderful sensation of dance with an added dimension of being in nature. He mentioned in one of the culture magazine O 32 C “that there is a force of moving water, and as an individual ride, that person harnesses this water. Then you can go further and deeper into the wave as your ability increases. Then you will have more radical positions like the top and the bottom, and there is this weightless sensation. It’s another dimension.

 The Surfer Magazine devoted to wave riding started the journey as an annual publication. Then became quarterly and finally monthly. Slowly and steadily the magazine thrived and by 1970 reached a circulation figure of 100000 copies.

John Severson- A tribute to the founder of the Surfer Magazine
         John Severson- A Tribute To The Founder Of The Surfer Magazine

Life After Surfer Magazine

He returned to Hawaii after selling the Surfer Magazine in early 1970. In Hawaii, he wanted to pursue his passion for big wave riding and relax with his family. He made a few films on wave riding and Surfing. The names of the movie are “Surf, Surf Safari, Surf Fever, and the most notable Pacific Vibration.” He had designed the posters for all the films; the signs have now become collectors’ items. He also directed a documentary on former child soldiers of Khmer Rouge. The name of the film is “A Perfect Soldier.”

 He also developed the interest and began to wind Surfing. He then edited the magazine “Wind Surf.”


The founder of the Surfer Magazine John Severson passed away on 26th May 2017 in Lahaina, Hawaii. He was 83 then.

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