Nautical Enterprise

Carey Chen has taken a natural talent and created an empire with his nautical art appearing on clothing, wines, bags, towels, shorts, shower curtains, blankets, phone covers, bed sheets, mugs, boat wraps and much more.
Text by Sandy Lindsey | May 13, 2018 | People

Carey Chen has spent a lifetime on the ocean observing the marine environment, attending fishing tournaments all over the world, releasing 300 blue marlin and spending months on the Florida flats fishing and observing the behaviors of snook, tarpon, stingrays and sharks. “I’ve experimented with different paints, different colors, different brushes and different canvases, all the while keeping an eye out for new dimensions in detail and painting every day,” he says. “As in any art form, a successful body of work is small part inspiration, and large part perspiration.”
Chen was born in California and spent his formative years in Jamaica until age 18 when political violence erupted in Kingston. He then moved to Miami. “This was good fortune for me as the South Florida fishing scene and easy access to great fishing locations in the Caribbean and Central America provided me with fishing adventures and experiences that I could translate onto canvas,” he says. His work has graced the covers of over 400 magazines, and can be found in both private collections and public spaces with a focus on marine life. He’s also the featured artist for notable fishing tournaments including the Puerto Rico International Billfish Tournament, the Cayman Islands International Tournament, the USVI Open Boy Scout Tournament, the Miami Dolphins Fishing Tournament, and the Ocean Reef Club Sailfish Classic. In fact, this avid tournament fisherman has won many such events.
Best of all, his laser-focus and dedication extends to his charitable endeavors. “I truly enjoy teaching the younger generation about ocean conservation and fish identification,” he says. As such, he often contributes original artwork and his other branded products to raise money for the charities supported by fishing tournaments. “What it costs me is not much, but what it gives to the charities is a lot,” he says modestly, sharing that one painting broke the record of $60,000 in last year’s Ocean Reef Tournament. His unique skill and vision have been acknowledged with numerous honors, including an award for “Artwork, Wildlife Conservation & Education” by the Florida Wildlife Commission.
Perhaps what is most impressive about Chen is that he’s had no formal art instruction. So how did he become such a powerhouse in the marine art field? “I’ve got a near photographic memory of the behaviors of fish,” he says “When a fish jumps out of the water, I capture it in my memory.” After 4 decades of observing the behaviors of different species, he has amassed a catalog of fish images stored in his head. “As I work on a painting, these images remain in my mind as my hands quickly transpose the image from my brain to the canvas,” he says.;