Surfing trends, like neon wetsuits and paddling gloves, come and go. But one thing that never changes is that surfers love their decals, stickers and patches (which we will refer to as DSPs because we are lazy).

DSPs have been around since the beginning of modern surfing, and like surfboards they fill a need as a way of identifying the surfer’s tribal affiliation or brand loyalty. DSPs are a code that shows where you fit in the line-up. They are also one of the best and cheapest ways of marketing a product. Are you a shortboarder? Slap some Lost, Rusty, Catalyst, Vissla, Volcom stickers on the rear window of your Toyota Corolla. Longboarder? Hobie, O’Hare, Birdwell, Pier Crew stickers on your Sprinter Van will do the trick.

Suggested places to apply stickers include, but are not limited to, car bumpers and windows, store windows, house windows (not recommended if you are married), street signs, walls, ceilings, floors, laptops, desktops, tabletops, surfboards, surfboard dings, and anywhere not prohibited by law (wink, wink). Sebastian Inlet State Park prohibits stickers on state property. Please refer to the previous list for the reasons why.

Decals are not commonly used anymore since they require that the paper be soaked in water to slide the plastic image off of the backing paper. Decal is a shortened form of decalcomania, which sounds like some sort of deviant behavior, but comes from the original French décalcomanie, a technique for transferring prints onto pottery. Modern adhesive stickers have mostly made decals obsolete.

Embroidered patches differ from stickers in that they are meant to be applied to clothing such as surf shorts or ball caps. In the 60s having a jacket or trunks with a Surfboards Hawaii or Hobie Team patch identified you as the coolest of cool. Patches for just about any surf theme could be bought by the regular hodad. Like decals, patches are rarely seen anymore. Stickers rule in the modern surfing world.

Our online exhibit features vintage and near vintage DSPs from the vaults of the FSM collection. Some are rare, some are important and some are just goofy. But they are all cool.