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Dave Tourje on
John Van Hamersveld

By Monica Viera

I had the privilege of interviewing the artist Dave Tourje - producer of the short documentary, John Van Hamersveld CRAZY WORLD AIN'T IT.

The film was made as a tribute to Tourje's friend and world-famous artist John Van Hamersveld, a man who has tremendous influence in the surf, skate, and rock world.

His best-known works include the covers of Magical Mystery Tour by the Beatles, Crown of Creation by Jefferson Airplane, Exile on Main Street by the Rolling Stones, and Hotter Than Hell by Kiss.

Tourje's 11-minute film was made to inspire other artists who shared the same hunger of making a statement and movement with their art.

John Van Hamersveld CRAZY WORLD AIN'T IT Film

Dave Tourje has been a member of the NELA art community his whole life (NELA stands for Northeast Los Angeles, which includes cities such as Eagle Rock, Highland Park, Lincoln Heights, etc.) where there has been a significant movement of punk/surf/skate culture that has been thriving there since the 80s.

How long have you been a fan of John Van Hamersveld? Have you ever met him?

My dad pinned up an Endless Summer poster by John in our garage when I was 7 years old. So I'd have to say that this piece of work was the one that stuck out the most to me.

Later in my life, sometime during the 1980s, I discovered who he was and it all clicked because at the time I was part of the surf/skate culture like he was.

I officially met John in 2002, who was introduced to me by a mutual friend, artist Boyd Elder.

From what I understand, there was a core group of people involved in making this film a reality. Who was involved and what were your different roles?

Well, I originally came up with the idea of the film in 2011 and began film things like his art shows, etc. I'm not a classical filmmaker by trade, though I have worked in film - I've actually been working as a visual artist and musician most of my life.

So since I wasn't a filmmaker, per se, to pull off the vision, I went for a collaborative approach. Ariana Capriotti was my projection manager, but is also a very talented artist. Christopher Sibley was brought in and worked with Drew Van Wyk to add the narrative story line, universal to all artists.

I liked the fact that Christopher and Drew were younger than me and so they had a different, fresh take. By 2016, we had finished a five-minute version of the film, but I wanted more.

Unfortunately, the project stalled when Christopher moved away. So when we revived it, Ariana and I had to challenge ourselves and step it up for the project. I direct some of the later shots and Ari helped with many things from camera angles to audio to greatly influence the film's aesthetic.

In the end, as a group and with Chris and Drew's guidance, we pulled it off.

How would you say that John Van Hamersveld influenced skate culture? He influenced it directly because skate culture comes from surf culture, and his piece Endless Summer burned a hole into the image of the surf world. It was the beacon image and it set the tone as an attitude, energy with its colors.

John was involved with artwork directly in the skate culture by working for Jimmy Z and Steve Olson. He was also involved with SURFER Magazine in the 60s.

Dave Tourje and John Van Hamersveld CRAZY WORLD AIN'T IT Film

What do you want viewers who watch the film to take from it? I want viewers to appreciate John and his legacy so that people understand his pivotal role. We're trying to send a message of encouragement and hope to artists- that to be influential and powerful, one will always have to overcome struggle and have persistence and hope.

There are lots of students graduating from art school, wondering what path they're going to take. Ultimately the choice is theirs, but they should remember that they all have the potential to make something great and bigger than themselves with their art.

Dave took great pride on working on the film and communicated that the collaborative element was very eye-opening.

One of his greatest joys as a musician was that he got professional help on the soundtrack to become part of the narrative. He communicated to me that the soundtrack alone is its own story that runs parallel to complement the film.

His next great project that he's working on is filming about the California Locos Movement, a collective that also involves John Van Hamersveld.

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Hollywood, CA

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