Artist Spotlight: Surfbuddha

Dennis Thomas with his TIkis.

From tropical mugs and bars to torches and totem poles, Tikis are timeless. They have been around for ages yet they never fail to make us feel like we’re on an island vacation whenever we’re around them.

Local artist Dennis Thomas started carving Tikis when he realized it helped him relax from corporate stress. When he started getting a great amount of people admiring his work, he turned his hobby into a business. Living a few blocks off the ocean in Atlantic Beach, a few more of his hobbies include surfing, biking on the beach, racquetball and all things tropical. His purpose through Surfbuddha is to promote a beach lifestyle and live that “Jimmy Buffet carefree way of life.”

As a Jacksonville native, Thomas enjoys selling his pieces at the First Wednesday Art Walk because the event brings in a great mix of the community. Thomas started selling his Tikis at Art Walk in spring 2014. He enjoys hearing from his customers who appreciate the novelty of Tikis. “I get a lot of positive feedback from the art shows with many compliments which motivate me,” he said.

72072863Surfbuddha customers have said Tikis can offer you a blessing or wish if they are respected and will often give you advice after your third adult beverage. Thomas said, “It’s important to name them wisely.”

Surfbuddha’s Tikis are more detailed than the average rustic chainsaw type carving. Each Tiki is hand crafted from palm trunks by an old-school mallet and chisel.

“Not many people carve/sculpt Polynesian or contemporary Tikis with this level of detail and craftsmanship mainly because it takes considerable effort,” Thomas said. “The average Tiki involves over 30,000 hammer blows.”

Surfbuddha offers many styles and custom Tikis, where you can add creative accents like lights, torches, plants, etc.

Interested in checking out Surfbuddha’s intricate designs? Be sure to visit his display at the Aug. 5 Art Walk from 5-9 p.m. in Hemming Park. This month’s theme is Back to School SmARTs, a perfect end to summer and kick off for the new school year. Families can check out “Back to School Zone” on Laura Street, and those who are 21 and up can enjoy a local brew – or two – in Hemming Park. Plus, all ages can enjoy food, music and creations made by an array of artists, including Surfbuddha.

For full Art walk details, visit