People and Places with Pierce: The Fish Bouffant Surfboard Artist

BEAUFORT, N.C. (WNCT) – Most people don’t have much use for a broken surfboard, but one man in the East turns them into beautiful works of art.

“Check these things out,” said Craig Gurganus, the artist also known as the fish bouffant. “Is that cool or what?”

A rip here, a cut there, a little sanding, some paint, and you’ve got yourself a one of a kind work of art.

Craig Gurganus has created whimsical works of art for over 20 years.

“They’re all different,” explained Gurganus. “I don’t have any templates or anything like that. The ladies used to wear their hair really puffed up around here, and it’s called a bouffant hairdo. So my fish, to me, sit off the wall and they’re kind of puffed up so that’s where the name, fish bouffant, comes from.”

One colorful fish, the queen trigger fish, takes the cake as a fan favorite. But the fish bouffant doesn’t just focus on fish.

“I do dogs and bugs and trailers, anything anybody wants me to do,” said Gurganus. “Corn.”

Who wouldn’t want to hang some corn on the wall. But a rat?!?

“The rat, my son, I told him not to eat in his room, in his bedroom, because we’re going to get critters,” explained Gurganus. “So he was working, and he came late after work and there was a critter eating his Halloween candy and so I made him a rat, and I got rid of the rats too.”

Gurganus is a North Carolina guy, born in Rocky Mount. He spent several years in California to surf. That’s where the idea for his one of a kind creations came to life.

“Almost 30 years ago, I was painting houses, but I started playing with my art and just worked to the point when I moved back here I decided to do it full time,” said Gurganus.

“I made a bunch out of chicken wire then I broke my own surfboard and so the idea came to me to make something out of it,” said Gurganus. “So I started making different fish and people liked them.”

Gurganus likes that his beloved old surfboards won’t end up going to waste.

“This is just giving it a whole new life,” said Gurganus. “I tried to save the label on the back of the surfboard. It’s just neat because most all of them have a little story to tell.”

No matter what the story, their renewed purpose is clear.

“It’s happiness. That’s all that is. It just makes people happy. When you go to your house and look at it, it’s supposed to make you happy.”

And Gurganus has been lucky enough to spread the joy all around the world.

Pierce is always looking for interesting and unique people and places to visit. If you have an idea, send him an email or a message on Facebook or Twitter.

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