Ocean Beach MainStreet Association debuts OB-themed jigsaw puzzle

A new offering from the Ocean Beach MainStreet Association's online store is a jigsaw puzzle.
A new offering from the Ocean Beach MainStreet Association’s online store is a jigsaw puzzle.

Looking for a local gift with a little flair this year? The Ocean Beach MainStreet Association’s new OB-themed jigsaw puzzle might be just the ticket.

Designed as part of the association’s merchandizing efforts, the puzzle depicts an artist’s view of one of San Diego’s most unique neighborhoods.

Denny Knox, executive director of OBMA, said the idea for the jigsaw puzzle came about during a Promotions Committee meeting. The committee was looking for a creative way to showcase Ocean Beach and foster neighborhood pride among residents.

Knox said the original concept for the 1,000-piece puzzle was to use a photograph. But the deeper into the production process the group got, the more it realized a photo wouldn’t suffice.

“We couldn’t get enough color differences in the water and things like that, so the puzzle wouldn’t have been doable,” Knox said. “It was too much of the same color.”

Instead, the committee decided to ask a local artist to come up with a concept for the puzzle. Knox didn’t need to look far to find the artist: her son, local visual artist, graphic designer and illustrator AJ Knox.

AJ Knox grew up in Ocean Beach and feels he knows what residents would enjoy seeing on a puzzle depicting their neighborhood.

“I’ve done a number of different things for OB over the course of my life,” he said. “My first published cartoon was when I was probably 8 years old. ... The idea behind the puzzle was trying to do something that really captured the spirit of OB and celebrated the eclectic culture of OB — and also on a practical level, something that was intricate and detailed enough that it would make for a good, big jigsaw puzzle.”

His choices for the puzzle were eclectic, he said — just like OB itself. There are surfers, beach bums, dogs, “coffee dads” and “you’ve got a skateboarding grandma in there,” he said.

“And then there’s all sorts of little nods to stuff from OB that locals will recognize. There’s the peace sign, there’s the Christmas tree, there’s the mermaid on the rocks, there’s all sorts of little fun [references] in there.”

He said the key to a great puzzle is that it’s a bit challenging.

“It’s really not much different from just doing a traditional piece of art. You just try and think about how big are the pieces, how big is the design, what’s it all going to look like, is it intricate enough and detailed enough that it will be a little challenging and confusing?” he said.

Though this is AJ’s first puzzle project, he already has ideas for future puzzles, whether for OBMA or other neighborhoods.

Denny said OBMA plans to offer more puzzles in the future. The money raised from the sale of the puzzle and other OB merchandise goes into the OBMA fund for beautification projects like the Ocean Beach Clean & Safe program and to help run the organization.

“We’re really fortunate. We have a very active Promotions Committee with lots of creative ideas,” she said. “We work from the premise that we really like local — you know, No. 1, we love local small businesses. And that’s who we represent. But we also like locally designed goods, something that shows how much we care about Ocean Beach and the peninsula area. So we’re always looking for product lines like that to put in our online store and expand.”

In addition to the jigsaw puzzle, offerings in the OBMA store include locally made candles, a 2020 Ocean Beach holiday ornament, stickers, hats, shirts and other apparel.

The jigsaw puzzle retails for $29.95. To buy it or to learn more, visit


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