Zeph Carrigg is a California surfboard shaper and artist known for his innovative resin tints and designs. Raised by “hippy beatniks,” it wasn’t long before he struck out on his own creative path. Zeph spends a few minutes to share his life with us.
What was your childhood like?
I’m the youngest of three children (two sisters) of hippy beatniks from Olympia, Washington—my father a cinematography student of the Evergreen State College who attended in roller skates and my mom, who took care of all of us, cleaned houses for income. We lived in many interesting “situations” (including a fairgrounds, a thousand acre beef farm/apple orchard, and also a bread van in the woods). “Normal” was not in my childhood vocabulary until grade school some time (when I came to the conclusion that it was the antithesis of myself). This bloomed into the painfully obvious later in high school.
When did you get your first surfboard?
It took me some time to actually get my own. I had moved to California at 21 and into a house where a roommate had an extensive collection of Dick Brewer boards—maybe 15 or 20. I chose a triple stringer nine foot longboard and stuck with it until I bought my own.
What was the feeling you had when you first stood on a surfboard?
1. That I was about to fall.
2. This wasn’t just like snowboarding or skateboarding like I had assumed.
3. I couldn’t wait to do it again!
Who did you look up to and admire when you were a young man?
All my buddies who could actually keep a girl interested in them.
I did have many mentors who helped me along the way: a teacher (Mell Parse), Scott Sherbert (the guy that taught me to paint helmets/jet skis), families I hung out with (like the Leerkamps, who were drag racers) and families I raced MX with. All were really positive to be around. As a surfer, local guys like Eric Sommer, his father Bob, Kevin Connelly and Joel Tudor. As a shaper, I learned from Dennis Murphy, who is an amazing craftsman and as cantankerous as it gets. I idolized D.T. Bing Copeland was and is my all time surfboard hero.
How do you come up with the shapes and color designs for your boards?
Out of necessity, I like equipment that is really easy to ride. Color designs come from all facets; any and all things inspire me. Sometimes it’s just being a good listener. My old roommate, Jeremiah, used to come up with good starting points. My wife, Rosa, likes weird stuff and gives me some good input.
Of all the places you have traveled to, what place in particular stands out and why?
The East Coast. I’ve been out there a dozen times and I’m blown away by the people. They always amaze me—such a different vibe than the West.
Who/what inspires you?
My grandfather, Jack Carrigg, is my all time inspiration. He has been a abstract artist since the late forties or early fifties. He lived in an old firehouse in the Haight-Ashbury in SF then moved to the Islands where him and my grandma stayed for nearly a decade. My grandmother, Lucille, learned to play the ukulele and became a party favorite for singing and playing with the elders. Later, after she passed, Val Ching told me she was one of the last living aunties of the old style.
What is the greatest thing you have learned in your life?
To be thankful and happy with what I have.
Do you have any regrets or wish you had done something differently?
I wish I would have put my heart into my education; sometimes I like to think I could have been a surgeon.
What are you most proud of?
My soon-to-be four year old son. He’s now racing MX and I get so stoked to see him go.
What meaning does surfing hold for you and how has it changed your life?
Surfing is a creative outlet for me; it is very expressive and also inspiring as a builder. It brought me my other half. She loves to surf more than I do.
What brings you the most happiness in the world?
My family. My supermoto is high on the list though and tools, lots of tools!
Who are some of the people you feel are shaping the path for surfing today?
The Wegeners sure changed the path everyone was on in the last few years for sure. Jon is the nicest guy you could meet, as humble as they come. Joel has got to be mentioned of course. He and Kelly are the two most influential surfers on the planet.
What is in your current quiver? What is currently your favorite board?
Your favorite surf spot?
My current is about twenty deep but I really only ride a 5’9″ soCliche Isish, a 9’2″ Bing Is Is and a glider I just made that’s 11′. I can’t pick a favorite. My favorite spot has to be Scorps, I’m regular foot, so does it get any better?
What’s your favorite meal?
Sushi, mostly rolls. Lobster hand roll, eel/avocado, albacore, shrimp—I love it.
What are you currently listening to on your iPod?
Well today, I listened to Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Wyclef, The Misfits, The Knife, Men at Work, Pixies, Willie Nelson, Talking Heads, Alphaville and a few others. I’ve been listening to a bunch of Racer X podcasts, mostly heroes of mine from childhood racing.
What are you most grateful for?
That my children and family are healthy. That I was blessed with eye-hand coördination and a creative mind. That people support my creativity.
What causes/organizations do you support?
They actually have first and last names. Last year, I gave away a third of my income to people who needed surfboards. My wife is the charitable donator of the family.
What’s next for Zeph Carrigg?
Last year, I started my third label soCliche. We built a bunch of stock and sold through some batches. This year, I intend to seek more distribution for them. I also have a new Bing brand model coming out in the next few months, a board that has been in the works for about a year; it’s amazing and has looks to kill. I also intend to do more of my resin wall art. I really enjoyed the Surfindian show I did this last winter and intend to get more focused on gallery shows.
For more information on shaper and artist Zeph Carrigg, please visit here.