Maggie Marsek is a California photographer who captures the experience of surfing in vivid colors and textures. Working primarily in film, her work is an inspiration to all who treasure traditional forms. We had the pleasure to ask her some questions.
When did you get your first surfboard?
I got my first surfboard, as a Christmas present, in 2005. That was only four years ago, but I am from Wisconsin and I didn’t grow up surfing. My Mid-western parents were so excited to buy a surfboard. It was a pretty exciting event!
What was the feeling you had when you first stood on a surfboard?
I remember feeling, This is soooo magical! I could see why it had enveloped so many people’s lives. I, even at first, could tell why so many people love surfing.
Who did you look up to and admire when you were a young girl?
I am the youngest of four. And with two brothers, I felt like my sister was the coolest thing in the world. I looked up to her and wanted to be just like her. I also look up to my parents as my father and mother did such a wonderful job raising such a fun, warm, close family that I have always known I’d want a family of my own just like that.
Where did you study photography?
In 2002, I received my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Photography from Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Georgia.
What brought you to California?
After graduation I wasn’t tied to a job or a relationship so I had freedom to roam. I headed to California because I was always fascinated by the warm, coastal lifestyle. I lived in Downtown San Diego for two and a half years before moving to the little surf paradise of Encinitas.
Of all the places you have traveled to, what place in particular stands out? And why?
I have been to Europe (specifically London, France and Italy) twice. I love exploring Mexico and the length of Baja. Not one particular place stands out. I shoot amazing sights and meet such amazing, genuine people on my travels. I hope to travel to all kinds of faraway places, and really hope to make it to Brazil, Australia and Japan. I am also looking forward to our honeymoon in Bali next fall.
What is it that makes you such a nice person? What code do you live by?
I came from a family that was taught, “Treat people the way you want to be treated.” I feel like if I am an honest person, and approach everything and everyone in a genuine way—the way I expect to be treated—good things will come. I feel my open heart and open mind will continue to bring me to amazing places and meet more amazing people.
Who/what inspires you?
I am constantly inspired by other artists and my life around me—the landscapes I explore while traveling and the people I meet along the way. My fiancé, Rob, is my biggest inspiration. He is constantly pushing me and encouraging me to just go for it with my work. I am the only one who can stand in my way, and he reminds me of that with any obstacles I face.
What are you most proud of?
I’d have to say I am pretty proud of myself for listening to my heart and taking a giant leap and moving out to California by myself. I have learned and grown so much out here, and nothing I have accomplished so far would have been possible if I hadn’t listened to my heart.
What meaning does surfing hold for you and how has it changed your life?
The feeling of surfing is almost indescribable to me. Those who surf know what I mean; there is nothing else like it. It’s a magical feeling that makes you feel powerful, but sometimes can make you feel vulnerable.
You and the wave need to have a mutual respect for each other. The same goes for the ocean and the landscapes. If you respect the ocean and landscapes that Mother Nature has given us, there is greater enjoyment in the experiences.
Who are some of the people you feel are shaping the path for surfing today?
I feel all the people who are doing it by hand—everything from building and shaping to glassing and polishing. Surfing is an art and a craft, so those people keeping up with that are the ones “shaping” the path for surfing.
What is in your current quiver? What is your favorite board? Your favorite surf spot?
Canon AE1, Canon Élan 7NE, Canon 30D, Mamiya C330, Holga … (laughs) … just kidding. I am, however, shooting more often than surfing. When I am surfing, it is on the root beer-colored Bing Lightweight 9’0″. I prefer smaller, mellow, uncrowded waves still. My favorite place to surf is Scorpion Bay in Baja Sur.
What’s your favorite meal?
Hmmmm … so hard to say. I bake a lot and cook at home often. I am a meat and potatoes kind of girl. My current favorite flavors are (but not limited to): sweet potatoes, balsamic vinegar, goat cheese, caramelized onions. We’ve been making a lot of homemade pizzas with homemade pizza dough. If I had to narrow it down to one meal, right now I would love a tri tip with brown rice, grilled zucchini and my fiancé makes a great creamy polenta. Sorry to be so elaborate. I am very passionate about the culinary arts!
What are you currently listening to on your iPod?
I’ve got eclectic tastes in music so it varies—Black Keys, White Rabbits, Royksop, Passion Pit, Pixies, Ramones, The Cars. And, when I am shooting, I love really the Cave Singers and I Am Kloot.
What causes/projects/organizations do you support?
I support anyone for making our environments better and safe for my future children, anyone who cares for our oceans and coastlines. I am a strong advocate for animal shelters and adopting for pets, also Children’s Hospital and Make a Wish Foundation.
What’s next for Maggie Marsek?
I will be in a show with my talented friend, Skye Walker, who was recently featured in here. It is a one night only show in Cardiff by the Sea on December 11, 5–10 pm.
For more information about Maggie Marsek and her work click here.