Mind-Bending 3D Beach Art By NZ Artist Jamie Harkins


There are so many ways to turn sand into art. You can build a moist sand castle using beach buckets, shovels, and the body of water just at your back. Or, you can burry your big brother under a pile of sand, perhaps even giving him a merman fin–just for laughs. Professional artists also take to the beach, creating beautiful art carved right into the sandy shores. But never until now has beach art been so in your face.

Jamie Harkins is a a local to New Zealand’s Mt Maunganui beach, where he often saw artists creating drawings in the sand. He couldn’t help but notice that none of these artists were using 3-demensional art, something he thought might make waves at the beach. Boy was he right!

Along with fellow artists, Lucia Lupf, David Rendu, and Constanza Nightingale, Harkins recently gave everyone at Mt Maunganui beach a treat, mind-bending 3-D art that pops out of the sand like nothing you have ever seen before.

Using inspiration from 3-demensional chalk drawings on pavement, Harkins decided to use the same techniques to carve his beach creations. Using the sand as his canvas, the results are beyond incredible.


Harkins and his team of artists incorporate themselves into the sand illusion art work, making it all the more mind-bending! Once in perfect positions, photos are taken from just the right angle to solidify the moment. The results leave you wondering–what’s real and what’s simply an illusion?


Harkins’ 3-D staircases drawn intricatly in the sand are especially amazing to witness. They literally look like pictures of oddly placed sand steps that have a cartoon-type filter over them.


Some of Harkin’s creations include more detail than others, but each is completely unique in its own way.


Harkins turns 2 dimensional surfaces into 3-D masterpieces by using a well-known technique called anamorphasis. This process includes drawing images that are actually somewhat distorted, but it’s these distortions that make the pictures appear 3-D when seen from certain angles.

While anamorphasis is nothing new, using sand to create it isn’t very common. According to Harkins, “We’ve seen other people doing stuff on beaches, but it’s always been geometric, flat shapes, like a pattern, so we thought we’d get into the whole 3D thing.”



If only Harkins sand creations were real, one would be able to surf and skateboard only a few feet apart at the beach pictured above.


Before Harkins was known for his 3-D beach art, it was his surreal landscape paintings that made him a notable figure in the area. The artsy dude is also a gifted musician.


While 3-D castles are nothing new, Harkins makes sandcastles that take a totally unique angle on the whole “3-D” thing. Instead of using sand buckets to build up layers, Harkins’ version of the beach sandcastle looks like it is floating above the sand–not sitting atop it!


As soon as the tide rushes in, the carefully prepared 3-D art disappears, meaning if you see it once, you will never see the same art again. While to some this might seem like a lot of effort washed away, Harkins sees the whole process much differently. In fact, he likes that the images are only fleeting.

In an interview with The New Zealand Herald, Harkins said, “…I kind of like the fact that it disappears at the end of the day when the tide comes in. It makes it impermanent.”

Just like everything around us, Harkins’ art comes and goes, but with each canvas washed away clean comes a new opportunity for creative joy.

Image Credits: Facebook