Posts Tagged ‘Surf Story’

The High Value in Story

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

Surf story

All of us as creatives, are storytellers.

That is worth something.

So the integrity, skill and life experience of a creator, matters very much.

We function within a socio-economic system that is quite leery of the increasingly open source access to “their market”.

In a conversation with two sage colleagues in Photography today, I had to point out something. Basically it was this.

Just because surf publishing has deigned to not let you play, does not mean your voice is not valid. In fact, it is the opposite. Established fiscal entities do not necessarily WANT the broad market to know of you. Because then the market will look at you, and being fear based, that bothers many surviving publishers, whose park between the lines mentality is enforced each day by Corporate rule.

We laughingly refer to this mentality today as the “Race to the Bottom”. Seth Godin nails it here.

This may not be in anyone’s best interests. I am going to illustrate in a couple quick stories.

I met Ed Lu at Opus Novum’s Sea-Space Initiative Summit at Google last year. Ed is a water guy. He is also a Scientist and Astronaut. He had a question. So did many of the amazingly talented people there. The question was one of funding. At the end of the two day series of derivative workshops, we all sat in a circle. Three people sought answers to traction based funding questions. Absolutely the least educationally qualified in the room, the answer to their dilemma was crystal clear to me. In short, this is what I said.

“I know how you guys can solve this. The answer is you. No one knows who you are. You operate in agencies anonymously. You all simply need to tell your story”

Here is  Dr. Ed Lu, telling his story. I am a huge fan of Ed and his work. Indeed,  of everyone who cares, and is good at what they do. We all should be!

Here is Tom Waits telling a story in Hell Broke Luce. I will leave it to you to discover the grace which exists within his Art. STORY. It is an excellent example of collaboration in the Arts.

At Ocean Lovers, our new collaborative organization, a vital aspect is to get the story tellers together, all those which create. Our intention is to give them traction in our Socio-Economic system, and do it culturally. In so doing we affect culture and perception with a Philosophically accurate, Science based message that promotes community via Social and Economic sustainability.

This could work.

Tell your story.

Mojca, and her story for Betty B

A California Opus

Saturday, July 9th, 2011
Napa Orange Gold

Napa Orange Gold

Chapter 5 in the California Series.

I have not always lived in California. My Dad was going to college on the GI Bill in Milwaukee Wisconsin, at Marquette University. I had never asked him why, being from Hawaii, he chose the Mid West. He met my Mother there. That was where my two Brothers and I were born.

We were sick a lot as infants. The family pediatrician had told my parents that our Hawaiian genetics may have been to blame, as we did not tolerate the cold of  hard, Midwestern Winter very well. In fact, I ended up in the hospital. I remember the experience vividly. It was a bleak time of laying in an oxygen tent in a ward, and staring out a third floor hospital window, looking at the City, watching.

Eventually, the family moved to California where my Father explored his career as an Engineer. My parents bought a home in Whittier California.  The design of the first computer, as well as launch of the Space program, became a regular part of our household, via my Dad’s work.

In some ways, we were healthier in the warmer climate of California. However, a problem arose. I developed allergies. Those caused a lack of energy, and attendant respiratory problems. I began getting injections twice a month (one in each arm), which helped alleviate the symptoms. I still get a phantom muscle ache, when I think about those shots.

I recall days where one could not see the nearby foothills, which created the basin in which Whittier is located, such was the density of the smog prevalent in California in the 1960’s. It had been around this time that the massive citrus groves disappeared from the area, being replaced by housing tracts and strip malls. Part of a methodical, concreting over of the Los Angeles area.

I was already a swimmer at this point, having learned to bodysurf, ride foamies, and inflatable mats, at the beaches in and around Newport, Huntington, Palos Verdes and South Bay. I swam for a local AAU team. But those allergies were a persistent problem. The only time I had true respite, was when we were at the beach.

Due to my diminutive size, and sort of sickly nature, my parents decided that I needed to wait to get a surfboard. By this point, it had been a topic of discussion for a couple years. But my water activities, which included fishing and diving, kept me pretty busy.

I craved those idyllic long days at the beach. I have fond memories of ten hour days in the water,  a piece of chicken, or a few rice balls, snatched on the run, from the picnic lunch my Mom would have made, very early that morning, as she loaded up the white 1955 Chevy wagon, for the long (to me) drive to the beach. I had fallen for California.




Robb Havassy: All Access Pass

Monday, April 11th, 2011
Havassy at Sacred Craft Santa Cruz

Havassy at Sacred Craft Santa Cruz

The spacious meeting hall is filled with the hustle and bustle of the curious, the sage, and the uninitiate, there on invitations from various cognescenti in the Chinese marketing and fashion world, to view a first of it’s kind offering by a new American designer, and Surfing cultural icon, Artist Robb Havassy. The show is the unveiling of the Artist’s Lifestyle and Art based apparel line: Havassy!

The seating which wraps around the reflective stage fills, the lights go to spot, the music pumps up, and this video begins to show on the facade at the back of the runway. And in synch, Robb Havassy unleashes his take on Art and Popular Culture as his models ply the reflective runway sea that bounces the concept of surfing into the waters of Chinese Culture via fashion.

Preshow Fitting

Preshow Fitting

Sitting back in my office in Ventura California, Robb’s short and often somewhat cryptic notes, and telling photographs of the event were preceded by a question regarding Facebook in China. I e mailed him back that it was IP banned there, but I would post a few images for him from here. In the exchange of e mails that ensued, I frequently found myself smiling a bit, as I realized that the fruit of Robb’s several months intense work in Southern California designing the fashion line, were being captured in this show and communicated back to me in real time.

Head to Toe Havassy

Head to Toe Havassy

The affect was that of having been able to witness something historic. Seemingly out of nowhere, this young artist had birthed a culture based Men’s and Women’s apparel line aimed at, not his peers, but a burgeoning new market, that of the young and emerging Chinese youth, who he felt were searching for a vehicle to identify with. So Robb brought them surfing and his ocean, surf, and popular culture based art.

Hand Painted and Crafted

Hand Painted and Crafted

The emotions were palpable. The line had gone from concept in California to the runway in China, in approximately three months. That meant a LOT of creative and constructive energy being focused on a myriad amount of aspects regarding international marketing, finance, and fulfillment, in addition to the nuts and bolts of creative interpretation of Art, and implementing it into a fashion sensibility that would be both authentic, and appeal to the sensibilities of the Chinese Psyche. Big project. And as is often said the show was an overnight success.

Robb de la Sol

Robb de la Sol


But what many do not realize about the Orange County based artist, is that he has a deep background in Fashion. Robb has been in shows as a lifestyle fashion model, for some of the most well known designers in the fashion industry, and worked with the elite menagerie which accompanies that world. His close friends run major Corporations in the Action Sports based industry as well. He gets it. That is a critical understanding to have, as one moves forward in this sort of project.

Then there is the vast depth in his Art pursuits. Robb is incredibly prolific, and his art is rich with the flavor and sensuality reserved for those who ply the global waters of surfing, nature, love and life. His work exudes all of that. So does he. It is all intensely magnetic.

I met Robb in the course of contributing to Surf Story Vol 1, which is an iconic book of surf culture that has proven to define to the world, just what authenticity is in surfing. Robb simply invited everyone he knew to contribute a story or two, and some art or photography, and published it all in a book which he laid out personally and then self published as a Limited Edition. The Surf Story Project had been a success. In fact, Volume 2 is on the way and is proving to be an even more vast expression of the passion that is Surf Culture.

My last phone conversation with Robb, prior to his leaving, was regarding some significant yet unimportant aspect of the new and emerging company which would bear his name. Creating companies, especially ones which are innovative, requires the pangs of birth. Those are unavoidable. Having been involved in a  plethora of corporation building myself, it is easy for me to read the waters of new company formation.

The last of our conversation is below.

“Robb, stop worrying this. You need to relax, and as you settle in to your seat for the flight, realize that your job is to be the foking rock star Artist and icon that you are. That is what the Chinese want. You.” And we rang off.

At the end of a runway show is the finale. In the last walk, the designer comes out with their models in a final presentation to the world. The impression is always designed to be icon building in effect. Robb had glibly and unobtrusively mentioned something he had thought about doing for awhile. I had almost forgotten it. Till I saw this photo he sent. The looks on the models faces, the audience and Robb say it all to me.

Robb Havassy, rolling out his world and life: in China. Triumph.

Havassy Fashion Finale

Havassy Fashion Finale


In much the same manner as a wave, “Havassy!”, has come ashore in the original land of enchantment and innovation: China. Full Circle. I am not surprised that it took an artist to figure it out.

Fluid Emerald

Fluid Emerald







Thursday, February 24th, 2011
 Sculptural Elements

Sculptural Elements

This is number five in the series on Loves. It is actually entitled Four. (Really.) If you understand the play on words with the copy title “Fore”, well then, you “get” Art and Artists. That is a good thing. We like it when people get us. It is why artists do what they do. ART is our love.

Robb Havassy just left, after a 30 hour visit. When he had arrived, I was working through a series of images where I had been subtly taken by surprise at how the ocean had sculpted rather unique looking gems my Canon 5DM2 had managed to catch, while I happily and possibly very quickly, was ducking in to, or out of, a waterbash.  (reads: having fun)

Robb fronts a huge collective of people who have several things in common. The principle of which, is that they are artists, who comprise the cultural tableau that is Surf Culture. One of the interesting things to me about Robb is his surfboard collection. I have taken to calling them bastard children. 350 surfboard sculptures produced by a Corporation, to sit in mall clothing stores across the US.

The children are copies of a surfboard Robb had left at the home of a well know photographer and friend of his. As circumstances would have it, the board was left by Robb as a sort of gift to the photographer (along with a painting) and had been used in a shoot. Then later, copied “to a T”, and placed in stores to help brand and authenticate a company whose modus was “borrowing” from surfing to brand themselves, because in fact, contrary to surf theme inspired companies, this one was completely disconnected from surfing. They were a clothing company. They do not surf nor contribute to the culture. They take. That is their History. Robb’s experience was simply one of many examples the the Company’s branding modus.

Corporate Disclaimer

Corporate Disclaimer

Here is the funny part. On top of coming to Ventura to hang with designer Donna Von Hoesslin and I (creative sparks fly), work on Surf Story Volume 2 (which should publish late 2011), Robb was in town to pick up the first surfboard he had ever shaped, which was produced at the shop of Dennis Ryder.  (If you do not know about Dennis, you really should. Not only is he a historic figure in Ventura Surf Culture, but is a pioneer in surfboard design development.) But Robb was also getting another shaping lesson from me, and doing board# 2.

What got me excited, is that he brought two of the bastards up with him! I had never seen them. You see, Robb got those 350 surfboards back AND a small settlement in a suit against that apparel company. This was the catalyst for our meeting awhile back.

Robb and his bastard children.

Robb and his bastard children.

It had been the proverbial young David, taking on a sage old Goliath. Robb had used the proceeds to fund Surfstory Vol 1, his statement on the authenticity of Art and Culture. That is a done deal. But 350 bastard children remain in a storage unit in OC.

Robb, Donna and I, and now some of the leadership in Project Kaisei, have been brainstorming concepts whereby we may utilize the bastards,  which could really now be construed as cultural effluent, with faux fin boxes and foam gouges where the company logo was removed, and place some value back into the world with his collection of plastic trash.

This resonates with me because I have built close to 40,000 real surfboards. That translates to 40,000 people who developed a relationship with the ocean on something my hands and heart helped conceive. These mall store boards? Though replicas of Robb’s board, they were merely store fixtures, some even with leash plugs built into odd places, to be used for tie down points as the boards sat in malls, silent icons to materialism and faux lifestyle, whispering sweet lies to all who admired what they thought that the bastards stood for. The irony of this hit me instantly when first I heard about Robb. Surfboards are symbolic of people- surfers. They are meant to be magic carpet vehicles  to adventure in a watery wonderland.

We became fast friends of course. All of us.

But that is Art, and why Art, is one of my many loves.



Seth Godin has this to say about Art, Artists and Artistry. Simple brilliance. His Art inspires me.

Richard Lang is one of the many bright lights, who as an artist, is collaborating with us on Project Kaisei, plastics awareness, and changing the world through Art. Here is a fantastic video which illustrates how he and his wife Judith do that.

Art is for everybody and can be produced by anyone. Here is a great example of that.

The imagery below in the gallery is a small sample of a collection of refuse. I say trash, because I had overlooked these images in first edit of the collection I just built here in Ventura, California, in what may be a historic benchmark for the ocean this Jan-February, 2011.

I did not frame or intend to build these. They just happened as a result of an accord between perfect meteorological conditions, pristine ocean, and me swimming 57 times with my camera in 34 days. Spawn of my world.

Click on any of the images to toggle through as a slide show.  Foreward!


Monday, November 15th, 2010
Impossible Panoramic

Impossible Panoramic

I  know who I am. So I recognize those traits that resemble mine, in my colleagues and friends.

This creates a deep affinity with those people who I repeatedly refer to as Savants.

Check the definition below.

savant |saˈvänt; sə-|
a learned person, esp. a distinguished scientist. See also idiot savant .
ORIGIN early 18th cent.: French, literally ‘knowing (person),’ present participle (used as a noun) of savoir.

I was pleased and honored when one of those, a certain Sean Davey, showed up at my door in Ventura, California.

Sean is a Tasmanian born, Hawaii ensconsed photographer whose work has forever impressed me. He arrived on a long standing invitation, to visit and photograph the place I live, which many of us refer to as California’s Gold Coast.

Coincidentally, Scott Aichner, who I regard as the best water action sports shooter in the world, had recently moved  home to Ventura from Hawaii as well. And me being Hawaiian and living in Ventura, well, you get the picture: family reunion.

Then Brian Nevins rang. He would be in California at about the same time. Brian rocks. Pretty much all there is to say about him. His heart is bigger than yours or mine, and it shows in his phenomenal work.

So all of us sort of collided in Ventura California. Learned and talented and passionate and on fire.

What resulted is pretty cool. We re- fueled each other.

The world will suck you dry. Your friends and colleagues know how to reverse that.

Sierra Partridge

Sierra Partridge

Seth Godin has this to say about us.

I was always told by those “In the know”, that as an artist and a photographer,  you need to specialize in one thing.


Scott Aichner, Sean Davey, Brian Nevins and myself are better than that.

Aichner, Davey, Pu'u

Aichner, Davey, Pu'u


We think that YOU should see and experience what we do. All of it. A perfect example is below.

Prickett Films has produced an amazing piece on the Irons Family, which documents the Memorial paddle out on Kauai for Andy Irons. They take you someplace incredible. Go there. It is a complete and generous gift.

Because you matter.

So we shoot.

It is very obvious when one looks around, to see who is authentic and who a clone.

This video is a very cool little piece that Robb Havassey did in honor of Kelly Slater winning his tenth title. Check the first song in the video. It is No Substitute. Written and performed by my son Josh. Josh gets it. So does Robb. See how it works?

Savantism is contagious.

The following gallery is a teensy cross section of what I have shot lately. If I were in an Arts or Photography school I would get an F for basically not parking between the lines. But in the real world: you win. Come with us, check THIS out. You need to try it. Feel it. Taste it. Do it.

None of us is fond of those straight white things.

© 2009 David Pu'u. All rights reserved.