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Interviews, Surf, Surf Interviews

Ira Mowen: Surf Berlin

February 19, 2013

Ira and I met on Facebook early in 2012. Someone shared a link to the trailer for Surf Berlin on my timeline. I watched it once, and needed to connect. I shot Ira an introductory message and have been bugging him for updates ever since. During his recent trip home to the states, we were able to do an interview.

Meet Ira Mowen; foxhound of balloons & boat wakes.

Where did you grow up?
Santa Cruz, California

When did you start surfing?
I grew up a few blocks from the beach. It wasn’t until I was probably 8 years old, on a family vacation to Hawaii, that I first felt at home in the surf. I would spend hours upon hours just getting pounded in the shore break at Makaha, with my brother and dad. It was the most fun I had on those trips. Our family friend Betty Winstedt, lived right on the beach. Up until 1995 we’d go back every winter to visit. We later found out she was the ‘1959 Women’s Surfing World Champion.’ I think those trips solidified my love for being in the surf. Later on.. around ’93, I got into Nirvana, and skateboarding. The latter of the two is what lead me to try a surfboard in the summer of ’95.

02 surf berlin
(“All the good surfers have a big truck” a page from my Hawaii journal circa 1994)

Tell us a bit about your artistic endeavors…
Since I was old enough to hold a pencil, I’ve known that I wanted to be an artist. Lucky for me, my parents have always supported me as an artist. At the age of 6, they enrolled me in an art class that I continued all the way through high school. I studied illustration in college… but after graduating, somehow became more attracted to video art. As a kid I would borrow my dad’s camcorder when ever I could, to make stop-motion films and what not. I guess my interest in video never left. Almost all of my work is autobiographical. My YouTube channel; citizenstand, is a perfect example of that. It started as my response to video bloggers in the early days of YouTube. Lately it’s been all about intense moments where I’m chasing something that’s seemingly impossible to achieve. In 2006 I was traveling the globe chasing video cameras attached to helium balloons, that recorded random aerial video. No strings attached. Just the wind controlling where they went. The Balloon Project got a lot of critical acclaim, and kept me busy for the following 5 years. The project also lead me to my first job making video for Vice Magazine, in Berlin. After three years I realized that working full time, and for someone else… wasn’t for me. I had too many other interests. I quit, got a dog, built a tiny house on a lake with my girlfriend, and began waiting for the next good idea.

03 surf berlin
(Ira and his dog (she also likes to surf))

What can you tell us about Surf Berlin?
Surf Berlin is a documentary film I’m directing about my lone quest to be the first in history to surf the only wave in Germany. The spot is very unusual because the head-high barreling wave is actually the wake from a giant ship.

04 surf berlin

How did you discover the wave?
In 2010 I began paddling around the river Spree in Berlin, which connects to the lake in front of my tiny home. My hope was for a sandbar that could catch the wake from one of the cargo ships passing by every half hour or so. No such luck. In 2011, I heard some talk of a surf spot just outside the city. I was directed to said spot, and saw a couple knee high waves popping up every time a certain ship passed by. Although small, you have no idea how excited I was. Still, something inside me wished it was bigger. A few months later when the wind was offshore, I went back to investigate. The spot I checked the first time was about a mile away from the ship. My hunch was that If i got closer to the ship the wave would be bigger. Later that evening I witnessed one of the most incredible waves I’ve ever seen; a head high, barreling wave, and in Germany of all places!

05 surf berlin
(still from Surf Berlin. One of the very first big wave Ira witnessed at the spot)

What inspired you to make the film?
After watching the wave roll in, I started talking with a guy who grew up near the spot. He told me that the ship that makes the wave was getting old, and would be replaced in the coming months. I didn’t think much of it at the time… just that it was unfortunate, and I wanted to try and surf it before it was gone. That was when deciding moment came. After returning home to my studio in Berlin, I went online to check and see if this wave had been surfed before. I couldn’t find a single picture or video.

My thought process went something like this:
A perfect wave exists in Germany + it’s never been surfed + it will soon be extinct = I have to make a film.

Have you had any interactions with the locals?
It’s been pretty lonely out there. I’ve never seen another surfer. Occasionally people walking along the shore will stop and watch. Once in a while they ask me what I’m doing. The most common question is “Isn’t it too cold?!” One old German guy told me that 5 years ago the ship made bigger waves. Apparently one day a giant wave knocked over some people on the shore, and the captain was told to take it easy from then on. That’s about as close as you’ll get to the typical “should have been here yesterday” story for this spot. As part of the project, and to pay homage to the place… I plan to research, and talk to locals, along with anyone else who knows the place. I want to find out if indeed this spot has some undocumented history to be told. The ship is old, so I’m guessing the wave has been rolling in since the Berlin Wall came down, maybe longer.

06 surf berlin

What are you chasing the wave with?
When I first saw the wave I didn’t have anything in Berlin that I could ride it with. I had my super warm wool-lined wetsuit for paddling in the lake, but I just never expected to be surfing here. After discovering the wave, I called up my dad in California and asked him to send over the surf mat that Paul Gross made for me. The mat was the perfect tool for studying the wave because it made accessing the spot a lot easier. I could fit all my surf gear and cameras on my back, and drive out there on my old moped when the weather was good. When I’m not riding the mat, I’m using a hand-plane I carved out of an old 80’s skateboard that my girlfriend found on the street. I also have a 7’2” Simmons twin fin surfboard… that I had made in Biarritz, France.

07 surf berlin

What’s the wave like?
It’s a lot bigger than I originally expected, and it’s very very hard to catch. Trying to catch this wave has probably been the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. I’d say the most difficult part was paddling out at a spot I’d never surfed, on a surfboard I’d never ridden… knowing I wasn’t in the pocket, and there wasn’t another wave coming. A day or two might pass before the next wave. Sometimes it would be a week. Because the summer traffic slows the ship down too much, waves only breaking in the winter months. There were days where I was paddling through what looked like a giant 7-Eleven Slushy. I tend to feed off of challenges. Trying to catch this wave quickly turned into an obsession. I paddled out over 150 times before I finally caught the wave.

08 surf berlin
(Ira about to take a pounding by one of the biggest waves the ship made during filming)

150 times?!
Yep. That probably explains why nobody else is out there trying to catch it. The thing is… once I accumulated around 50 failed attempts, I just couldn’t stop. When I’m passionate about something I’ll do it no matter what. It was quite a struggle… that’s for sure. Between freezing water, cold air, wind, and slipping into a wet wetsuit… I really wasn’t kind to my body. My biggest mistake was not dressing warm enough. It took me a few times of getting really sick to realize that I should really be dressed like I’m going snowboarding. Once I figured out how to stay warm It was all good. I’d wear my snow gear up to the edge of the water, take it off at the last minute, paddle out, try to catch the wave, then paddle back in, and quickly put my snow gear back on over the wetsuit. It was pretty insane what I went through to catch just one wave. I guess you could say the dream was strong. I also wasn’t too keen on making a surf movie about not catching a wave.. although that would have been pretty funny. I definitely have a very strong love-hate relationship with the place.

09 surf berlin
(Ira watching one of many waves that just wasn’t big enough)

What do hope people will walk away with, from Surf Berlin?
It’s been quite an adventure. I hope I can share my quest through the film, and the upcoming book. My dream would be to give people something they will want to watch over and over again. This won’t be your average surf movie, or documentary. I envision it being more like a film about a lone man who’s trying over and over again to climb a mountain nobody knew existed. Nobody knows he’s doing it… and all the while he’s running out of time, because the mountain will soon fall into the sea. Something like that. I see the film being very dreamy, like an hour long music video, with bits of narrative taken from my trip journal to build up the story.

What’s on the menu for 2013?
Finish the movie. I’m currently working with an awesome team of very talented artists who support me with everything. I’ve got help with an original soundtrack, poster, book design, an animated a dream sequence and much much more. From what I’ve seen so far, I can tell you without a doubt that it’s going to be a magical film. I plan to finish it later in the year, and have it available on my website While the old ship is still afloat, I plan to go out as much as possible to try to catch it one last time. A farewell surf on my mat, would be a nice way to end the story.

Surf Berlin: Official Website
Surf Berlin: Facebook

Interviews, Surf, Surf Interviews

Keith Malloy: Patagonia, Fatherhood & Torpedo People

February 8, 2013

Keith was pushed into his first wave when he was four years old. He went pro in his teens. By twenty-five, he’d circled the world ten times. With such experience, it comes as no surprise that he’s an artisan of all forms of wave riding. Recently, I was lucky enough to connect with Keith (Thanks Aaron.) Hes described as a man of few words Heres 538.

A few years back I saw a shot of you surfing off the Washington coast. How was it?
We really had an amazing trip to the northwest. I think we got really lucky with the weather and waves. I don’t want to name any spots, but there are some great lefts up there. Both my wife and I are goofy foot, so we were taking advantage of being front-side. Walking throughout the crazy old growth forests with bald eagles soaring overhead was so cool. I really enjoy the northwest, it’s pretty magical. I hope I go back some day soon and surf it again.

Patagonia wetsuits have become pretty damn popular up here in the Pacific Northwest. You, Dan and Chris are all ambassadors. What initially got you guys involved with Patagonia?
We started with Patagonia about 10 years ago. We really resonated with the company’s core values and philosophy. I also grew up in Ventura, CA where Patagonia is based. I ended up surfing and becoming friends with Yvon and Fletcher. Eventually our friendship turned into a partnership, and I’ve been working with them ever since. It’s been great to work on the wetsuit designs and see them just get better and better. We definitely build suits for the colder regions… it’s great to hear that people in your area wear them, and like them.

Chris Burkard Photography

Can you please tell me the story behind this shot?
We traveled to Norway to surf. We ended up surfing an overhead left point break near the cabin we were staying at. Fortunately for me we had the wood burning hot tub on the deck. So, ?after surfing frigid water in the snow, you could find me chilling and drinking beers in the hot tub. I’ll be honest, I was a bit giddy as it all seemed surreal.

Is it true in 2021 Patagonia will be introducing an R5 wetsuit for the Great Lakes surfers, and that for extra warmth they will be cross-stitching hair from your beard in with the merino wool?
Hahahaha. I hope not.

You and your wife had a baby a few years back. How has fatherhood shaped your creative endeavors?
My family and I are basically a team, my wife helps me with everything I do. ?We finished ?the bodysurf movie Come Hell or High Water over the time our child was being born, it was crazy! We just finished a book about the movie. It’s called Plight of the Torpedo People. ?Believe me, it is a juggling act with a kid! ?Not sure how we got it all done!

What are some of your passions outside the water?
I also like hunting, fishing and riding horses. ?We have a big population of wild invasive pigs in our area and I like hunting them with a bow. My Dad has a small cattle ranch and I help him out a bit. My biggest commitment is my two year old daughter and wife, but luckily they like the beach and ranch life too.

It’s been two years since the release of Come Hell or High Water. Any great adventures in 2012? What’s on the menu for 2013?
I traveled quite a bit after the movie, Kamchaka Russia was an insane trip. Like no place i have ever been. We were surfing in the midst of volcanoes, bears and salmon. The beach breaks were hollow with crystal clear water. The water temp was below 50. We found some amazing river mouth, but unfortunately the swell never got very big.

It was a pretty hardcore trip, we camped for 14 days and no showers. We were sleeping in tents and in between camps we were driving a 6 wheel army vehicle. The highlight of my trip was catching salmon on the fly rod.

2013, hmm, not sure, usually don’t plan things farther than a week in advance! I just got back from a trip to Barbados, we timed it with swell and got amazing waves. Not sure creatively whats next, but I have a few ideas.

Tim Davis

You can pick up your own copies of Come Hell or High Water, and Plight of the Torpedo People, on the official site.

Check out our review of Come Hell or High Water, here. We also sell the DVD in our shop.

Interviews, Surf, Surf Interviews

Aaron Smith – Destination Surf x Patagonia

December 5, 2012

Aaron Smith is the owner of Destination Surf. Destination is a family run business, that was started by Aaron’s father…over thirty years ago. They make killer board bags. Outside Destination…Aaron represents Patagonia’s surf division, up here in the Pacific Northwest. He helps us pick out our suits, has beer with me when he’s in town, and tolerates me photo-shopping roller-blades on him…when I don’t get my way. He’s a great guy. You should know more about him.

When and where did you learn how to surf?
I learned to surf in Encinitas CA. I was around 5 or 6, my first time standing up. My dad taught me how to surf. He grew up surfing in Leucadia Becons, Swamis, and Moonlight Beach.

What are you riding these days?
I mainly ride 6’ thrusters…but I do have some quad fishes from DK, and a Christenson 10’6 glider.

What’s your most memorable moment out in the water?
I happened to be in Florida in 91’ when the perfect storm hit. I surfed some of the biggest surf on the east coast. I also got my first shot in Surfer Magazine.

What are some of your other interests?
Free diving, BJJ, and Mountain Biking

How did Destination Surf come to be?
My dad has been in the industry since he got out of High school in Encinitas. He started with surfboards, and and owned a surf shop in Encinitas called Ocean Pacific. He eventually sold the store…which later became OP clothing. After that, my dad took a break and moved our family to Coeur d’Alene,  Idaho. When Mt St Helens blew, we moved back to San Diego.

He started what would become Destination Surf. At first we distributed all sorts of Surf products; Sticky bumps, Aloha racks, etc. As our brand became more popular we started dropping all other products, and focused more on the Destination brand. Our big thing is travel bags. We made our first bag in 1980. Now we have traction, leashes and packs coming soon.

You have a really great team of Destination riders…spent any time out in the water with them?
I’ve surfed with most of them, with the exception of Jamie Sterling. He rides way too big of waves for me. I’ve been to Fiji with Aamion Goodwin, and the Malloys. It’s always great to see thosee guys surf. They have so much wave knowledge and ability.

Destination recently relocated to Oceanside, Ca. How’s the new home treating you?
Its good. Close to the Harbor for morning sessions. It’s also down in the board building area of Oceanside…so there’s lots of likeminded people.

Outside Destination, you’re also Patagonia’s West Coast Surf representative. How did you get involved with Patagonia?
During the economic down turn in 2008 I was thinking of adding some products to distribute at Destination surf. About the same time Devon Howard, then Manager of the Cardiff Patagonia store…asked if I knew anyone who could rep Patagonia to the surf shop.I jumped at the chance. It’s been an amazing ride!

What’s on the menu for 2013?
For Patagonia, we have all new suits coming in July. New stretch wool, and completely sealed suits. They are insane!! Patagonia also has some new Eco Materials coming out. Stay tuned!

Destination has a new line up of traction pads. I’m also working on a new double short board bag. Travel has changed. Smaller boards and less boards. We need a new bag.

Destination Surf – Facebook
Destination Stuff – Stoke Harvester
Patagonia Wetsuits – Stoke Harvester

Interviews, Surf, Surf Interviews

Sea Glide: Greg Swanson

October 15, 2012

Greg is a Costa Mesa born surfer, currently living in San Francisco, Ca. I interviewed Greg’s older brother Alex a few weeks ago. Like Alex, Greg shares a passion for photography, the water… and a variety of surf craft. Greg also joins Mike Black and Doug Mitchel, in our group of surfer/educators.

How long have you been surfing?
My older brother, sister, and I have been going to the beach as kids since I can remember. Eventually we got a surfboard to share (I think I was around 8) and since then we have been surfing, bodysurfing, swimming, and anything else you can do in the ocean.

What is your most memorable moment out in the water?
This is a tough question because it is constantly changing and being replaced by another awesome time in the ocean. The last one I can think of was this past summer when Alex, Natasha, and I went on a rock adventure in Laguna Beach. We jumped, swam, and hiked through rock tunnels, caves, and formations.

What are you riding these days?
All summer I almost solely rode a John Wesley Cali 66’. It is the most responsive single fin log that I have ever ridden. When it gets a little bit bigger and faster I take out my 6’6” Spacepin. After riding my brother’s Spacepin I knew I had to get one for myself so I asked John to make me a mid-length that fits me. That’s all I am surfing now up here in SF for the semester until I head back south in December. I am very much missing my Vampire Hull Ryan Lovelace made me (I can’t wait to surf Santa Barbara points on it again).

What are some of your other interests?
I really love teaching and working with kids. I am currently working on my Education major so I can eventually start working at a school. This summer my brother, Alex, and I started to dive around the coves and reefs in Laguna Beach. I find so much peace out in the water and this just added another element to this. I also love reading older fiction books and short stories while listening to Duke Ellington on my record player. Lastly, God as well as my family bring me so much joy and support in my life, these are fundamental to the person I am.

When did you first become interested in photography?
Looking up to my older brother, Alex, I got interested in photography through him. He had been taking photos of the things we were doing and this idea of documenting the adventures we had was so interesting to me. After meeting up with some dude on craigslist and getting a $90 film minolta I started in my brother’s footsteps. I took photos of what my friends and siblings were doing and eventually it became more surf oriented.

When I was cruising through your albums, the photo below caught my eye. What can you tell us about it.
This came from the first and only true black and white film roll that I have used. My friends and I were just skating around and I wanted to try out this film form Ilford. We went down to Blackies and I found this spot of light that just seemed so cool to me. I still go back to my older film photos and get inspired on this idea of having one shot and making it count.

How’s San Francisco treating you?
San Francisco is pretty dang cool. It is totally different from anywhere that I have lived before (dense, diverse, and weird) but I am really enjoying it. I am so thankful to be able to spend this semester learning about urban life and its effects. I am currently interning at an elementary school that has a majority students that are at risk. While I have only been here for about a month, it has been really eye opening for me. I have also still been able to get my fair share of surfing in. Some really cool people (Beamer and Miles) have been able to keep me updated on the swells, take me surfing, and let me take photos of them surfing.

From your answers so far, I can tell you are quite intelligent. Can you please put this internet meme to rest… How many squares do you see? ;)
Haha I could be totally off but I think 36. It seems like a nice round number.

What’s on the menu for this coming year?
School (for the most part), surfing, adventures, reading, listening to music, taking photos, and spending time with family and friends. My family just got a yellow lab puppy, Adho, that I still have yet to meet so that might be the biggest thing I am looking forward to.

Greg’s Tumblr – Sea Glide

Interviews, Surf, Surf Interviews

David Macomber: Shark Sugar

October 12, 2012

David Macomber is an artist who’s work has been featured in multiple publications. He currently resides in New Jersey with his family, and spends his free time in the water & woods. Shark Sugar’s work demonstrates a harmonious marriage between those two environments; Waves wrapped in wood grain.

What inspires you?
Life and it’s brevity. I feel like I am on this earth to share the beauty of the Lord and His creation. There isn’t much time – so I try to do as much as I can.

How long have you been surfing?
I’ve been surfing since my early teens but I find now I enjoy shooting in the water more then surfing. When I’m surfing I am thinking about photography and when I’m in the water shooting. I get stoked on getting shots of everyone else having the time of their lives.

Any favorite artists?
David Carson, Andoni Galdeano, Banksy, Jasper Johns, Kate Sikorski, Storm Thorgerson, TJ Reddick, Andy Warholl, Jeff Canham, Piet Mondrian (if you don’t know these folks I highly recommend google-ing them)

Anyone out there you have been itching to work with?
Hmm. I think anyone from the above list would be fun to collaborate with. But anyone who is fun and likes to be creative.. I’d be open to work together.

You are based out of New Jersey, but spent your part of your life in California. How would you say the surf/art scene differs between the two coasts?
Uhm.. The easiest (shortest) answer would be – I think Jersey artist/surfers have to work harder. Because the art scene and waves are tougher to find. But on the other hand if you have talent it’s easier to stand out because the scene is much smaller.

Your creative talent is broad. What medium are you currently enjoying the most?
Why thanks for your compliments. In the last few weeks I’ve been diving into street art. I’m mixing my black and white surf photos with spray painted stencils… it’s been fun.

I’m in love with your skateboards. What can you tell me about them?
A friend of mine Robby Wheeler creates these rad handmade skateboards in his garage. It’s a really cool process that he doesn’t let anybody see. Haha. But I asked if I could paint a few and they’ve really been a hit. I started exploring some new styles and techniques with these as well… that too has seemed to go over well.

What’s on the menu for Sugar Shark this year?
The past few weeks I’ve been doing a lot of planning and brainstorming for next year. I’d like to explore the street art some more, I’d like to do another large mural (or two). I thought about starting a watch company, because I love watches. Also, I’m looking for a brand manager to help me stay focused and do some PR work – I just want to keep creating and have someone else (who’s better qualified) work on that other stuff.

David has a large body of work. Do yourself a favor…head on over to his site, and dive in.

Shark Sugar – Official Site
Shark Sugar – Blog
Shawn Sugar – Store

Interviews, Surf, Surf Interviews

Ten Piggies Over: Alex Swanson

September 26, 2012

Alex Swanson is a Newport Beach native, talented photographer, and slave to the wave. If you spend anytime reading online surf porn, than you most likely frequent his blog; Ten Piggies Over. Even if you haven’t been to TPO, you’ve probably still seen his photography. His subjects include John Wesley, Ryan Lovelace, Erin Ashley…and many other talented individuals ingrained in California’s surf community. When Alex isn’t behind the lens, he’s in front of it…and most likely in the water.

How long have you been surfing?
I started surfing when I was 12 years old, with my Dad taking us all down to San O, Bolsa Chica, and Newport Point. We used to pile in his ‘86 Saab hatchback and we would ride these big old, tri-fins; Russell and Line Up boards.

What sparked your interest in photography?
I found a Canon Élan 7e hiding in one of our closets, borrowed (permanently) two of my Dad’s lenses, and just started shooting my friends a ton. I was initially drawn to the side of surfing that wasn’t published in magazines and seen in well-known surf movies.

What are you shooting with?
I currently shoot with a Canon t2i, GoPro Hero2, a Fujifilm Polaroid, and my girlfriend’s old Pentax, and occasionally the Élan 7e. I only own three lenses that I switch intermittently… a 50 mm f 1.8, 28-135 mm, and a 75- 300 mm.

You often post photos of shaper John Wesley…How did you guys come to know each other?
We met in the water at Churches a few years ago, and ran into each other on and off. Right before last summer, when John was starting on his own shapes, we just started shooting a ton and getting all weird together… and it’s been happily ever after since then.

What’s your favorite watercraft these days?
A 6’2” Fish… Single concave, double concave, single bottom, triple concave, stinger channels, to a displacement hull, to a deep vee at the tail. And a 7’5” JW Spacepin  that has pretty much been my primary board for the past year.

Via your blog, I’ve admired your travel over the last year. What’s your next destination?
Yeah, Erica and I decided get out of the country (for the first time) right after graduation, and settled on backpacking trip through the Mediterranean coast of Spain, France, and Italy. We’re hoping our next trip is more of a surf-oriented one, maybe a tropical destination. But for this year, it’ll probably be more local/camping surf trips along the beautiful California coast.

Spent any time surfing in the Pacific Northwest?
I’ve really been limited to the amount of places I surfed to just Southern California, from San Diego up to Santa Barbara, but would really like to get up to some colder water in the near future. I’m really inspired by looking at the Patagonia surf trips up North.

Between Greg, Worm, Wesley and Lovelace…who would you pick to join the X-men, and what power would they have?
I would pick Worm, because she has the appropriate wetsuit… And her power would be to be able to believe that it’s not butter.

What’s on the menu for 2012?
Besides spending the majority of my time with the new love of my life, a yellow lab named Adho… Short for “adho mukha svanasana”. This is a big transition year for me, and everything is up in the air. But I’ll be pursuing a couple of my career goals and hopefully still have the time to shoot and surf!

I’m hoping to get Alex’s brother Greg, up on the site within the next few weeks. He shares similar passions, along with with the Swanson Smile.

Ten Piggies Over
All She Wants is Diamonds – John Wesley’s blog

1. ?
2. Alex Swanson
3. Greg Swanson
4. Erica Burtrum
5. Alex Swanson

Interviews, Surf, Surf Interviews

Surf | Craft: Ryan Lovelace

September 7, 2012

Ryan lovelace is a 206 born surfer & shaper…currently mastering his craft in Santa Barbara, Ca. He was the man behind Point Concept Surf Boards…and is presently shaping under his own name, with Ryan Lovelace Surfcraft. Get to know him more, in our interview below. 

When did you start surfing?
I started surfing when I was young, thought I don’t know the year; my family would go visit my grandparents in hawaii every summer; my only though there was the ocean and how I could get my dad to paddle me and my brother back out for some more waves.  We went every year for a while until my grandparents moved to Arizona (what a contrast………!).  At that point I started surfing in Oregon and Washington whenever I could, though living a few hours away from the ocean and being a full-time ski-bum made that a pretty rare endeavor, though my board stayed in the middle of my room year round and I could never pull my face out of whatever surf-rags I had.

You grew up in Seattle…Any memorable sessions in the Pacific Northwest, you wouldn’t mind sharing?
The first time I experienced REAL offshore wind…stinging sand blowing all the way into the lineup.  It was small but in a beautiful little cove in oregon, set in a national park.  The water was so clear that whole week, like a crystal.  I love cold water for that clarity it has when the conditions come together just right.

When did you start shaping?
I started shaping in 2005, on my 19th birthday.  I had been saving for a new board until a friend told me he had built his own and it had only (HAHAHA) taken him 6 months or so to do it in his garage.  I figured that wasn’t too bad so I got into researching the subject as much as I could, though getting my hands on the materials was the real education.  I got finished with my first board (even hand-foiled the fins out of plywood with a surform…try it sometime…) in just under a week.  It was all I could see…I was possessed.

Out of the Lovelace quiver, what would you say your favorite board is?
I have a number of loves within the quiver of what I build, i find different obsessions with all different types of craft though if I had to single one out…Her name is v.Bowls.  The design has flipped my thought process on it’s head and truly opened my eyes to the unlimited potential that shaping offers as a total mind-f*ck.  Once you thought you knew something it can instantly be flipped on its face and you’ve got a whole new beast…that beast is v.Bowls for me.  Coming into the design has reshaped my entire quiver.

Favorite surfer and/or shaper?
I have a hard time finding favorites of any type in almost anything…I dare you to ask me what my favorite pizza is. I’m pretty well removed from the mainstream of surfing, I don’t pay much attention and theres so much out there that I just could care less about…I stay pretty well holed up in my own little world, so my influences and favorite surfers are all local guys and people I’ve meet through my travels.  Travers Adler comes to mind very quickly.  Trevor Gordon, Dan Malloy, Ari Browne in Byron Bay Australia…he rides a finless board better than anyone else I’ve seen.  He’s got a pretty sweet Zebra costume also, I really like that about him.

In the shaping world, it’s still hard for me to single anyone out; I find my influences there mostly in the way that people carry themselves as humans within the profession and in that its becoming difficult these days to find people that I have deep and true respect for.  Rich Pavel comes to mind as a very unique and special influence of mine, as does Ryan Burch and Cyrus Sutton.  Gregg Tally is a hero for hand shapers and anyone who walks the walk.

When I was cruising through the shop on your website, Vol. 1 caught my eye. Can you tell us about it?
I suppose since day one I’ve always wanted to incorporate art and other people in my work; not really aiming for it I started attracting a lot of amazing people and artists into and around my shop.  Most of it came in the form of photography and as time compounded over the past number of years I’ve collected enough photos and material to crash my computer and fill a few hard drives; things people shoot around my shop, in the water, anywhere.  I put it all together for fun one day and made a book out of a pile of my favorite photos as well as the sketches that I do for my board designs…basically a hand-bound surfboard porno.  I started Vol.1 when I ended Point Concept, my old label.  My work and path within the surf world moves and changes with my whims so I thought it was a good time to start making a definitive collection every year of whats gone on; the best sessions, the most striking images, my influences.  As I collect stuff through the seasons I’ll keep compiling it and making new books to keep track of my progress.

What’s on the menu for 2012?
Hopefully some nice tubes and lots of bottom turns…

I’m heading to australia for my second time this year in a month or so, then going to Bali to shape at Deus Ex Machina.  I’m bringing a pile of friends along with me so it ought to be an unreal adventure…then I’m back home for the surf season and around Santa Barbara we try to stay put when there are waves, so my plan is to keep up with my whims through the season and come up with some new stuff; particularly refining the Rabbits Foot and a few big wave boards for my friends to travel with and carry into some precarious situations.  I can only image what v.Bowls will continue to teach me through the coming season.  Once the swells die down though I’m headed back to Australia to shape, then to Europe again for my yearly ‘tour’ over there; its usually a few weeks of really heavy duty shaping, I come back pretty ripped…my girlfriend likes it.

If you’re in the SF Bay area tonight (9.6.2012), stop by the RVCA gallery on Haight. Ryan recently collaborated with artist Blake Marquis, and will have some boards on display.

Ryan’s Blog
Ryan’s Facebook Page

1. Blake Marquis
2. Morgan Maassen
3&4. Ryan Lovelace
5&6. Alex Swanson

Interviews, Surf, Surf Interviews

Erin Ashley: Badass

August 8, 2012

My introduction to Erin, was actually through the image above. Somewhere along the Facebook timeline I become friends with Alex Swanson. He posted the photo, and I shared it on the Stoke Harvester Facebook page. I was pleased to discover that the surfer in the photo was Erin ‘Worm’ Ashley; surfer, musician, marathon runner, & all around badass.

Is there one session out in the water, that stands out from the others?
It was one of those evening summer sessions where I went surfing Sano with my friend Jeffrey Jones. I was riding a ’68 G&S Stretch (which is one of my favorite old logs to ride). The waves were total rubbish but we were having fun and goofing off. He had just taken a wave so I was sitting on the inside and I took off rode the nose a bit and was doing some silly foot trick when the board spun out right at Jeffrey…splitting his lip open. We spent the next 4 hours at the hospital. He still has a small scar on his mouth… my bad.

How did you get connected with Dano Surfboards?
I don’t remember exactly how, or why I started riding his boards (perhaps that’s a better question for him.) I met him surfing Blackies on these old logs & pigs, and Dano was riding newer versions of those. I really liked what he was into and I suppose he dug what I was doing on the older boards, so we would talk whenever in the water…maybe it just evolved from there.

What are you riding these days?
I usually ride a 9’3 Dano Los Creeper. It’s a double step-deck, hips in back and a 17 1/2″ nose that’s a bit pulled in. I don’t think you could find a more responsive board on the nose or tail. The board completely compliments the way I naturally surf. Besides that …either my hand-plane w/vipers (recently lost to France) or a space pin; which is perfect for ledgy dredgy waves.

Can you tell us a bit about GOGO13?
We’re a band that is an amalgamation of madness, the Aquabats and the B52’s…or so I’ve been told. I play sax and taskmaster. Everyone in the band is incredibly creative and talented outside of the band. Our guitar player is an amazing photographer, and our singer is the art director for the kids show Yo Gabba Gabba. We play for fun and really try to dig deep into the punk ethos,  keeping our live shows raw and spontaneous…sometimes to a fault.

Outside of music & surfing, what are your other passions?
I have a fellow that I’m head over heels for….I have two of the cutest & funniest dogs on earth, and read loads of books. In my real life I make desserts (specifically gelato/sorbetto) at a restaurant in L.A. called Mozza. I’m just trying to soak as much of this thing we call life in.

How many Swansons does it take to screw in a light bulb?
I’d imagine two; one to screw it in and the other to take a photo and blog it. (I kid, I kid)

I gotta ask…how did you come to be known as “Worm?”
The nickname comes from the movie Friday w/Ice cube and Chris Tucker. There’s a drug dealer played by Faizon Love called ‘Big Worm.’ He keeps his hair in curler’s and they call him Big Worm, Big Perm. I have this mop of hair that is curly like ringlets at times so one of my sister’s friend’s starting calling me Worm because of that. People thought it was clever and that was that. I’ve always been a nickname sort of person though…maybe I don’t look enough like an Erin.

What’s on the menu for you, in 2012?
I just got back from France for the Roxy pro. Kassia Meador did a longboard invitational and was kind enough to invite me. It was incredibly rad and I got to meet and hang out with some truly amazing & talented people. We even carried Stephanie Gilmore up the sand when she won her 5th world title. How rad is that? I am just hoping to get some really fun waves this summer, go down to Scorpion Bay, run a marathon in October, and hang out with friends.

Interviews, Surf, Surf Interviews

John Wesley: Surf & Design

July 11, 2012

John Wesley is a 21 year old craftsman, shaping boards out of Dana Point, CA. Founded in 2010, ‘John Wesley Surf & Design’ continues the tradition of hand-shaping fine surfboards, whilst many in the industry have switched to CnC machines.

When did you start shaping?
I started shaping after glassing my friend Dodge’s shapes he was making out of his garage. That was around my last year of high school. I had a unique school schedule that left me with a lot of time to work, surf, and start building surfboards.

What was it like working with Terry Martin?
Terry was amazing, and probably the most encouraging person in the surf industry. When I really started to get some traction, he wanted nothing but the best for me. He instilled the idea that making surfboards can be fun, if you have the right mentality. He taught me to be thankful for having the ability to shape surfboards. That attitude has stayed with me. As a result…I truly enjoy every day I go to work, and I give people the best possible board I can. All of that stems from Terry.

What’s your favorite shape, in the John Wesley quiver?
Hmm…that’s a tough question. I really like both shaping and surfing the Spacepin. On those nice shoulder high off shore days I pretend I’m surfing Tavarau or something. Lately for the small summer combo beach-break stuff, the TFP has been my go to board. It all really depends on what mood I’m in at that point in the day. I always have at least 2 logs around…I’m really trying to keep my surfing balanced.

What would you say makes your boards stand out from the crowd?
Right now I’d say it’s how personal I make each board. I’m at a point in shaping where I have my set models, and a base line for them…but love when customers come to me, and throw out ideas that I really have to think about. I mill them over, then bam… it hits me. I go straight to the shaping room and blend all their ideas together, to make a functional board that’s exactly what they want. I would sum it up by the overall attention to detail I take, in every step of the process. I’m not just making boards that look different; the function and theories behind each board make them what they are.

You mentioned that your girlfriend lives up in the Seattle area…have you surfed in the Pacific Northwest?
No, I’ve never surfed up in the Pacific NW. I have spent time in Vancouver & Victoria. Everything about that area is absolutely beautiful. I’ve heard a bunch of about point breaks hidden away in coves, which I’d love to surf one day. Maybe see and orca go by….I don’t know.

You use a lot of great  shots taken by, or featuring the Swansons. What’s your connection with them?
Yeah…Greg and Alex Swanson are really great kids. They’ve helped me out a lot, in more ways than one. We met up after I left the company I was shaping for. I told them that I wanted to do this for real…and on my own. They were really supportive with everything. I wouldn’t be where I am at without their involvement. It makes everything I do a team effort, and not just me.

How was your recent trip to Portugal?
Portugal was amazing… truly a trip of a lifetime. The waves and the countryside is something out of a book. I personally love Europe, and to be able to go and shape there because of Rui at Magic Quiver Surf shop…was unbelievable. It pretty much made my whole year. I’d like to go back at least twice a year.

What’s on the menu for John Wesley in 2012?
Basically, just keep pushing forward.  To deliver the best possible work we can…with only hand-shaping . There will never be a CnC’ed JW.  With Alex & Greg’s surfing and photography work… and my good friend Brandon doing a lot of design, we have a few projects for summer. Basically the team goal is to keep bettering ourselves in everything we do. We also have a few colabs coming up…

You can check out John’s boards on the JWSD site. Wesley also has a pretty active blog with some great shots of the OC & Newport Beach crew…jazzing the glass.

1. Alex Swanson
2. Christoph Haiderer
3. Greg Swanson