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the creative side of surfing

Photography of Muleke shaping Drew Brophy Art "Moby and Friends" Drew Brophy Art "Moby and Friends"

When I first took the time to learn to surf back when I was 32, I realized what a truly artistic yet athletic sport it is. It’s hard for me to call it a sport actually because the word “sport” conjures up all things jockish: football, soccer, baseball, basketball etc. Surfing and jock would never fit together in a sentence.

The actual process of surfing is so challenging that you need a creative spirit to understand and have the patience to endure the ever changing rhythm of the waves and get innovative when guiding your board with your body as the wave changes along the way. It’s the most sublime, vigorous and rewarding physical activity I have ever taken part in.

A good portion of the surf industry is still oozing with wisdom and soul. We live in a town where we are surrounded by talented and inspiring people whose whole hearts are caught up in surfing and some who actually make a living at it. To grow up in San Clemente is to grow up with surfing. It’s hard to imagine living here and not getting caught up in it somehow.

My husband Jim grew up in Huntington Beach which has grown up to be a more pretentious “surf city.” San Clemente still keeps it’s pants on and tends to be more family oriented. But, we have both been affected by the industry to a larger degree.

So, of course, our son is into surfing. He’s not as hard corps as some of his school buddies, but he loves it in his own way. His passion for it comes from a sincere connection with the ocean. Over the course of the last few years he has found joy in the ocean through sailing and reading and movies. His favorite books, and subsequently films made after some of them, are Moby Dick, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, The Flying Dutchman, Discovery Channel’s Deep Ocean and of course Spongebob.

When we decided it was time for his own board, we turned to his best friend’s dad, Breno Basilio with Muleke, to shape it and a well known local artist to put some artwork on it. Merrik has spent many hours drawing Moby Dick, the giant squid from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, the ghost ship, various deep sea creatures and lots of jellyfish. So, when talking to Drew Brophy about what we wanted in the drawing on the deck of Merrik’s board, it was easy to communicate all Merrik’s favorite things.

Breno designed a board perfect for Merrik. Taking into account his height, weight and ability, he knew how long, how wide and how thick to shape it. Drew was amazing to work with for the artwork. He knew right way what we were after and delivered a phenomenal first sketch. On the final artwork, he went overboard to say the least. He delivered under a tight deadline and I have never seen Merrik so excited in his life about a new toy. It is a perfect culmination of all his favorite things coming together in one cool place.

Our life feels full being able to collaborate and support local artists. They are talented and successful in their own special way and we can relate to that. Both Jim and I struggle along in our own creative endeavors without a ton of recognition. We see others in our industries getting bigger pats on the back and sometimes it feels like we aren’t really moving forward in our careers.

But, it’s a great reward to give back to our roots and to hold that dear rather than try to run off to find more celebrity and something else that is bigger and better than what is right here in our own backyard. I am so thrilled to have also realized a great new personal project that stays close to my center and gives me the opportunity to develop my photographic strengths through the history of photography.


  1. Reply

    Jason D.

    May 7, 2012

    That board is beautiful, and your description of surfing is spot-on.

  2. Reply

    Drew Brophy

    May 7, 2012

    Stoked that my art has become part of your son’s story, memories that last a lifetime, memories of joy. Life is Good Drew