What do you do in the face of red tide devastation throughout Southwest Florida?
If you're Brendan Coudal, you make art.
Coudal, a local artist known for his colorful paintings of retro-style girls and mermaids, along with renderings of sea life, decided to create T-shirts featuring his original artwork to help bring awareness situation that may seem helpless to some.
"About three weeks ago, the red tide was at its worst near my home in Nokomis," Coudal says. "We could smell it at our house, and we were getting daily reports about the loss of our treasured dolphins and sea life. I felt like I had to do something."
"I wanted to create something sweet, to remind people what makes our coast so special, and give to a good cause," he continues. "It made sense to create a special image, and it took my mind off all the bad news, even if just for a little while."
So he created two T-shirts with artwork inspired by our marine life. One is a 100 percent cotton, slim-cut V-neck that incorporates sea turtles, fish, manatees, crabs and mermaids in the shape of a heart on the front, and his dog, Libby, on a surfboard on the back. The other is a 100 percent ring-spun cotton, pre-shrunk crew neck with dolphins, manatees, tarpon, sharks and fish forming the shape of a wave cutting out of the planet on the back, with Libby once again riding her surfboard. (Libby on a surfboard is also featured on the front left). Both are available in sizes S-XXL for $20.
Coudal has lived in Southwest Florida for more than 30 years, and he's built his life around the Gulf. "The water inspires my artwork," he explains. He loves to fish, paddleboard, swim, run 5Ks on the beach and volunteer with Mote Marine and its Casey Key sea turtle patrol. He's also worked with Mote to rescue stranded dolphins, and was even married on the beach on Casey Key.
Coudal says he'll sell the shirts as long as there's demand for them. "It may sound strange, but I'll be happy to retire the images at some point, because that will mean the red tide is totally gone!” he says.