Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Manufacturing Stoke — review

I don't normally write film reviews — there's probably a good reason why I became a designer instead of a writer — but I wanted to have a go, in support of Manufacturing Stoke. The director Pierce Kavanagh is surfing's answer to Michael Moore — the movie can be hard to watch at times, but it's something I think every surfer should see. Anyway. Here I go...

Manufacturing Stoke (directed by Pierce Michael Kavanagh, misfit pictures)
Rob Machado, Dan Malloy, Kassia Meador and Alex Knost do not appear in this film. The first surfer featured is 9-year old Tiara Thompson: an environmentally-aware, frothing girl-grom from California. And that is perhaps the most refreshing aspect of Manufacturing Stoke — it is one of very few independent films not relying on 'in-crowd' surfers to garner appeal. In fact, the lack of prominent surfers and locations makes this almost an anti-surf film. If sponsored shredders are the tip of the surfing iceberg, Manufacturing Stoke goes below the surface to bring up a colourful and varied cast of pioneers and commentators including the eccentric and inspirational Carl Ekstrom, Richard Kenvin, Jon Wegener and others.

For the first part of the movie, you could be forgiven for thinking you were watching an episode of Grumpy Old Men — grey-haired blokes with a malibu-chip on their shoulder about an industry that is partly responsible for propelling the planet towards environmental doom. And you could also be forgiven for thinking that the man behind it all is Grubby Clark. But as the film rolls on it becomes apparent that there is a future for surfing — and it's getting progressively greener. The old guard are graciously handing the baton to a new breed of environmentally conscious independent surfers, shapers and manufacturers like Danny Hess, Lucas Dirkse, Ed Lewis, and Clay Peterson of Marko Foam. As the focus shifts to this new generation, the outlook seems increasingly positive. Here are a growing group of modern-day pioneers whose innovations are starting the next big and much-needed change to the surf industry paradigm — what some commentators are labeling surfing's true renaissance. It's an exciting time to be a surfer, and Manufacturing Stoke gives us a peek into future possibilities.

Manufacturing Stoke's production values follow the lead of pictures by directors like Jason Baffa and Thomas Campbell — with plenty of atmosphere, sensitive camera work, a palpable story-line and a bespoke soundtrack. But it's the film's core message that makes it so different, and so challenging. This is not the sort of movie you put on to fill the background. It demands concentration and a willingness to look at your own surfing habits in the cold green light of environmental responsibility.

Much like the nature of the youthful surfers featured, Manufacturing Stoke asks hard questions and urges you to answer them. While it provides an insight into how the industry is changing for the better, at the end of the day it is up to individuals to make responsible choices and change their own habits at a personal level. There's no neat-and-tidy happy ending here, but the education that this film provides brings us one step closer.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Manufacturing Stoke

I made this little drawing in honour of Manufacturing Stoke, a new documentary by Pierce Kavanagh of Misfit Pictures, exploring sustainability in surfing. As someone who finds joy in the ocean, this is an issue close to home. For more info check the official website, or visit thesurfnetwork.com to download the film.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

One Fin #2

Featuring some close-ups of the quiver

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

One Fin #1

I first heard the above phrase during a recent conversation with a shaper I greatly respect. After 40 years of shaping (and many more of surfing) this is how he sums up his fin configuration of choice. I love it. So much so that I'm going to try to draw a different version of this every week (or so). This is version #1.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Exhibition at Nest

This weekend Café Nest is holding their annual art exhibition, with artists from all around the traps. This year the theme is Spring. While the phrases in these paintings are obviously derived from The 12 Days of Christmas, and therefore aren't technically spring-themed, I figure Spring is the season wherein these birds were created. And so it stands to reason that without Spring, there wouldn't be a 12 Days of Christmas (as we know it at least). I'm convinced anyway!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Preserving our precious colloquialisms

Recently I contributed an article on Australian colloquialisms to design journal Bbetween issue 4, which was launched on Friday. The format has changed a bit in print, but I thought I'd share my original submission here. Goodonya mates!

When I got hitched, among many bonuses were a father in-law with a penchant for dinky-di discourse, and a husband in possession of an Australian Slang dictionary. Looking through it, I was surprised that it contained so many idioms I'd never heard of — and made me wonder who, if anyone, ever used them in real life.

I was duly informed that my father in-law was keeping the vernacular dream alive. And the very same week I saw evidence of this when, unprompted, he managed to legitimately slip at least three of the phrases in question into a conversation.

It was like attending an accidental master-class in Speaking Australian. And much like when you have your eye on a new car, when you've noticed it once, you begin to see it everywhere you go.

What I also began to see was a 'vernacular gap' between our generations. From that initial exposure I'm not ashamed to admit I've found myself using more of this language in daily conversation. But the number of people in post-boomer generations who do this seems to be dwindling. And as we grow older, it seems more and more of this colourful and unique mode of expression is being relegated to the dusty archives of history. In a world where Western culture seems to grow more homogenous by the minute, language is one of the last bastions of cultural individuality.

So I implore you: help keep our national lingo's heart beating. 

Without these colloquialisms, how will we be able to enjoy a dog's eye and dead horse at the footy? And how will any young hopeful have a successful romantic liaison without first having a dad and dave, before donning his best bag of fruit? Even if he ends up on his Pat Malone, he'll still be able to pick up the dog and bone and call his china plate for some degree of consolation.

It'll be impossible to have a Captain Cook out the window, weighing up the pros and cons of hanging around the house in yesterday's Reg Grundys, or hitting the frog and toad and finding somewhere better to hang around (hopefully not just in aforementioned Grundys).

If you're completely baffled by the last few sentences, the adjacent chart might help make sense of them. But these are just the tip of the locutionary iceberg. It will take a continual cross-generational effort to keep our linguistic fires burning. We can start by trying to incorporate at least one 'Australianism' into our daily conversation, or better still, introduce someone else to the treasures of fair-dinkum Aussie expression. If we all pitch in, one day we won't need a visual reference guide to understand, embrace and avail ourselves of our own precious colloquialisms — and we can avoid the danger of becoming a linguistic facsimile of every other Western culture.


Saturday, July 2, 2011

Magic Sam

Magic Sam is the name of the board on which Nat Young won the 1966 World Championships at San Diego. The board was a revolutionary 9'4", and is said to have "ushered in the shortboard revolution".

We've recently acquired our own Magic Sam. He's not quite 9'4" long, but by our estimation he took exactly 9 months and 4 days to create. Which I think is pretty magic.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Riding Tandem

I've gone all electronic with this latest typographic illustration. Designing the letterforms this way has reminded me yet again how difficult it is to design a proper, working typeface (and makes me appreciate the talents of those who do it for a living). For the last seven months I've been riding tandem by default, although lately my partner has grown too big for me to get out at all. I'm really looking forward to meting my little tandem buddy soon  — and getting back into the water of course.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Mr Schmitt

After eight great years, this week is my last working with de Luxe & Associates. The director (and founder) of the company is shipping out to the US for a few years, and putting the company on hold. He's taking most of his family with him, but one special member – his beloved Messerschmitt – is staying behind in storage. I thought I'd scribble down some views so he has something to keep him sane when he's stuck behind the wheel of a giant US-sized SUV.

Meanwhile, I'm looking forward to fitting some more drawing in – now I don't have an excuse to be so slack!

Monday, January 24, 2011

#14 & 15 (and the last — for now...)

The most recent addition to the series, following a hiatus of over a year (how could I!). These were done just a couple of weeks ago. Summer and Winter by the sea, inspired by two of my favourite central coast beaches. A prize if you can guess which ones!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

#12 & 13

This would have to be my favourite diptych so far. Inspired after watching numerous surf films, numerous times. I'm still working on the whole hanging ten thing, but what can I say, it's good to have goals.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Inspiration can come from funny places... I spend a lot of time on the computer. Over the years, the Apple Mac trash can has proven both trusty comrade, and formidable foe. It's about time it was immortalised, at least by me.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

#9 & 10

I've always wanted to create an artwork with "after" in the title; as in it was either inspired by, or directly ripped off from, somebody else.

The panel on the left is called "Apple — After Dick Bruna, Holly Throsby and Dee Huxley". The panel on the right is called "Grenade — After Dick Bruna, Sylvester Stallone and Ghandi".

Incidentally, Dee Huxley is the person who first taught me to use gouache — and I suspect that if she knew how I was using it now, she never would have let me pass first year colour class.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


This painting was inspired by the Book of Genesis. At the time I hadn't used gouache for many years (since design school), and it is here that I re-learned that undiluted gouache can crack up big time.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Le Dominateur

I call my husband "The Dominator" because he always seems to catch every single wave in the session. Not that he's pushy, he just has an annoying knack of always being in the right place at the right time (or more likely, has the the ability to put himself there).

So this drawing is in honour of Le Dominateur (it sounds more charming in French!)

Happy birthday Joe.

Friday, January 14, 2011


I painted this in 2008 at an end-of-year church camp at Broken Bay. Instead of drinking tea and eating sponge cake (or whatever it is church ladies usually do) we all sat around and played with my paints for a few hours. Tops stuff. Perhaps inspired by the laundry facilities typical to a communal camp, this one is called "Coin Operated".

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


I have no idea what this means. But I think he's cute, in a sinister kind of way.

Monday, January 10, 2011


"The Longreef area of Sydney's Northern beaches offers a wide selection of reef and beach breaks that work in a wide variety of swell and wind conditions. There are plenty of reef breaks to found in this area."
From Mark Warren's Atlas of Australian Surfing, 1988.

Saturday, January 8, 2011


Then, it was electric.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


I don't know if the Thunderbird is 100% anatomically correct.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

10 Squared

In 2007 I decided to create a series of 5 inch x 5 inch paintings. The goal is to paint 100 of them (that's where the 10 squared comes from).

I do a painting whenever I get time. So far, I've averaged 1 painting every 2.5 months. I'm currently up to 15.

I think it's safe to say it's going to take me a while!

This little diptych constitutes paintings # 1 & 2.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Number 8

We recently bought our first house, which was both scary and awesome. And we now have the pleasure of living in one of the most beautiful, yet strangely under-rated, parts of the central coast. The best thing about owning your own house is you get to draw on the letterbox.