Eric Soderquist is a California surfer, who along with photographer Chris Burkard, created The California Surf Project book. In addition to being a talented surfer, he is also a writer and painter. We spend a moment to tap into his vivid imagination.
What was it like growing up in California?
California as a kid was epic. I was born in my house atop the Village of Arroyo Grande. I had creeks to both sides of my house and my brothers and I were constantly exploring. It was a simple, natural life.
When did you get your first surfboard?
When I was maybe six, we were coming back from the lake when we found two bodyboards on the side of the road. We began a game of riding them down our grass hill. Our uncle saw us and gave us a 7’0″ Hout single fin. It had a black widow painted on it. I’ll never forget it.
What was the feeling you had when you first stood on a surfboard?
The first time I stood up was awesome. I was real young and my brother dragged me out. He pushed me into a wave and I remember riding up a shallow creek and under a bridge. I think he would run behind me pushing me and that’s how I would go so far. It was along time ago so it’s a little vague.
Who did you look up to and admire when you were a young man?
When I was young I looked up to my brothers, Hugh and Loch. They were the gnarliest stunt kids in our neighborhood. We loved forts, bikes, skateboarding. We always had half pipes; it was a blast. Oh yeah, I was really amped on Lance Mountain. Oops! Just read the “young man” bit. At that point, the Momentum thing was amping my brain.
Of all the interesting places you have traveled to, what place in particular stands out? And why?
Traveling the world is a great experience. The raw and natural places always stand out: Canada, West Sumatra, Maine.
Where were you educated?
I went to A.G. high and that was that. I began traveling and developed interests in art. I was a part of a working art studio in San Luis and through that I was mentored by some amazing artists and that’s a lot of that’s in a answer.
What was the inspiration for “The California Surf Project”?
The book we did stemmed from early morning road trips. Chris and I would talk a lot about photography and art (contrast, color, lighting, etc.). It was a simple time for both of us and I feel we were a product of our environment. California is ever-inspiring and the book seemed to fall in place quite naturally.
What were the challenges in producing the book?
For me, the challenges were getting used to the computer thing. I wrote the book on paper, so typing, editing, e-mailing … made me feel like a dinosaur. Other challenges were staying on top of the edits and making sure everything flowed artistically. Luckily, our publisher had faith in us, so it made the experience a lot easier.
What has been the reaction?
The reactions have been great. The book made it into some random places worldwide. I get some classic overseas e-mails where you can tell they hit the translate button. So the e-mails read, “I like car bus en California big air surf I like you do.”
Tell us about your artwork/painting.
I paint large oil landscapes and find myself feeling like an old man. I study the early California artist more than anything. I love William Wendt’s confident color, Guy Rose’s warm, distant landscapes and Georgia O’Keefe’s skull studies. Actually, Georgia inspired me to do a series of surfboard sculptures named “Rest Upon the Prairie”. For mainstream stuff, I did the Nike 6.0 Trestles Pro poster. It was a fun water angle.
What is it that makes you such a nice person? What code do you live by?
I try to live simple and that helps for how I approach things. There’s an underlying vibration to life and I try to live accordingly.
Who/what inspires you?
I feel most inspired when I’m artistic. Which for me is when I’m able to slow down and drift deeper thru the layers of what I’m doing, whether it be painting, sculpture, surfing… People that inspire me are the teachers that help me along the way. Even if its just there captured actions, I appreciate the keen eye.
What is in your current quiver? What is your favorite board?
My quiver is pretty diverse. I have a 5’8” Clyde Beatty Rocketfish; I rode it a lot on my book project. Just got a mental 6’0” single bump single fin from Dave Parmenter. Actually, I have few of Dave’s boards that are great for Central California—mostly unique shapes and some guns. Then I have my shortboards that PJ Wahl shapes. He’s a humble, quiet guy who’s seen a lot. He shaped me a 5’7”, 5’9”, 6’0”, 6’4”, 6’8”—all amazing boards. I’m stoked to ride boards that are shaped by such fine-tuned craftsman. It’s a lot of work for little money and I’m very appreciative.
What are you currently listening to on your iPod?
I like jazz, dub and lots of Neil Young.
What project are you currently working on?
I’m loosely working on a short film, painting and surfing a lot.
What’s next for Eric Soderquist?
For the future, I want to stay creatively in tune while not falling off the face of the planet.