Keiron Lewis is a surfer and talented graphic designer living in Sydney. Also known as Seamouse, Keiron publishes his work on his popular surf blog, Pinniped. We talked to Keiron to find out more.
What was your life like growing up?
I don’t think I could have asked for much better really. I grew up about an hour away from London on the south coast and was lucky enough to have both the beach and the countryside as my playgrounds. I had a very supportive family, and both of my parents are very creative. When I was 14, my dad took me down to Cornwall on the first of (what I would convince him to make) our annual summer surfing holidays. From day one, I was hooked—getting up at daybreak and staying in the water till dinner. It didn’t take long before a couple of weeks in summer wasn’t enough and I started hunting out places to surf at home and dragging friends into it too.
What was the feeling you had when you first stood on a surfboard?
I can recall almost perfectly the first ride I had where I stood, turned and rode along the face. My dad had got me a 9’7” Mal for my 17th birthday, and I can remember being so surprised by how good is was to feel the glide the board had and how it connected with the wave. I was grinning like an idiot over the top of the waves at my mates and couldn’t paddle back out fast enough to do it again. I wasn’t surfing particularly great, but I’m sure that wave will stay as one of my favorites ridden for a very long time.
Who did you look up to and admire when you were a young man?
My grandfather has always been my biggest hero—the nicest and most intelligent man you could ever ask to meet. He has an encyclopedia for a brain and I find nothing more inspiring to my personal life and my artwork than to hear him talk story.
Graphically, I always admired those artists that provided artwork for skateboard companies, and mainly those produced for Chocolate or Girl. I didn’t know at the time, but I was looking at the work of people like Even Hecox, Spike Jonze, Andy Jenkins, Andy Mueller and Tony Larson—people that still inspire me to this day.
Of all the places you have traveled to, what place in particular stands out and why?
Fiji was amazing. I ended up being there for a month and a half back in 2003. I had a blast staying in the worst accommodation I’ve ever been in and making good friends with the staff and people in their village. The waves there were unreal too—the most beautiful colours of blue, full of the most amazing wildlife and would repeatedly kick my ass on a daily basis. I loved the people and the lifestyle too. For me, if I go traveling, I want to go somewhere completely different from home to really rock my senses and hopefully give me a different perspective on things. Fiji will definitely do that.
Who/what inspires you?
So much inspires me and that’s a wonderful thing. You can be walking along the road, see something, do something or maybe just overhear a part of someone’s conversation and it can spark an idea. If I’m feeling low on inspiration while working, I usually throw on some music and check out what other people have been creating via the internet. I constantly get that “Damn, I wish I’d thought of that” feeling, which is usually pretty motivating and I always like to see if I can adapt other people’s methods or ideas into my own work.
A few people’s work I’ve been inspired by recently are Nathanial Russell, Rob Ryan, Stuart Kolakovic, Ryan Tatar, Mike Perry, Jean Jullien, Cody Hudson, Morgan Maassen, Paul Rand, Dieter Rams, Alex Kopps, Vampire Weekend, Ryan Heyward and Ivan Mayorquin to name but a few.
What is your process for creating your art?
It all starts out as an idea or phrase that I have to jot down quickly … as not to forget. I like putting some of my humour into my work and to generally just try to be honest about the idea I’m trying to represent. When I create a new piece, I generally sketch out ideas in pencil before either turning them into a print of some kind or importing them into Photoshop/Illustrator to sharpen up and colour digitally—all depending on what’s happening with the image afterwards. I was trained as a designer and that method of producing work has transferred naturally into my illustration.
What is the greatest thing you have learned in your life?
A good guess is better than a bad measurement.
What are you most proud of?
Marrying my beautiful wife. I’m really fortunate to have such an amazing person in my life.
What meaning does surfing hold for you and how has it changed your life?
It’s been such a big part of my life for so long now; I can’t really imagine it not being there. I think, like most surfers, it’s brought me friends, taken me to places I’d otherwise not have traveled to and given me a lot of joy. I happily hold my hand up to being well and truly addicted though. I constantly watch the weather and tides, and get massive withdrawal symptoms if I don’t get in the water often enough.
What brings you the most happiness in the world?
Friends, family, being around the ocean and creating things. As long as I can keep these things in my life, I’m sure I’ll always remain content.
Who are some of the people you feel are shaping the path for surfing today?
The thing I really like about surfing at the moment is that it’s not just the sponsored surf stars shaping the path anymore. I love that shapers are finally being given the recognition they deserve too. I’d say that Joel Tudor opened the door for today’s ride—anything aesthetic. Thomas Campbell opened everyone’s eyes to what could be done with it and shops like Mollusk then put it in the hands of you and me.
To name a few who are doing interesting things, I’d say Derek Hynd, Tom Wegener, Danny Hess, Alex Kopps, Carl Ekstrom, Richard Kenvin and John McCambridge.
What is your favorite board? Your favorite surf spot?
I made myself a 6′ twin keel fish awhile back and that’s so much fun. The feeling of riding something you’ve made yourself is really great and I’d recommend it to anyone. I really love surfing the pass in Byron Bay, but pretty much any right– hand point break will keep me grinning for days. Saying that even though it’s small, mushy, grey and cold, there’s no place like home.
What’s your favorite meal?
I really couldn’t narrow it down to one meal. Much like music, different food appeals dependent on my mood. I do love trying out new recipes and going out to good restaurants though.
What are you currently listening to on your iPod?
I don’t actually have an iPod. I really like the physical interaction of putting on a CD or even better some vinyl. Plus, cover art plays just as big a part in the experience for me and is a massive source of inspiration. I can’t count the amount of music I’ve bought over the years purely based on the cover art. It plays a huge part in my life and my work, and I’m constantly on the lookout for new artists and sounds. Recently I’ve been listening to The Shins, Kids at Risk, Megapuss, The Acorn, Band of Skulls, Yeasayer, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Department of Eagles, The XX, Holy Fuck, Local Natives, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros and the new Vampire Weekend album.
What causes/organizations do you support?
I used to support a few of the big charity organizations, but I kept receiving demands asking me to increase my monthly donations. It ended up seeming like the companies were putting more effort into getting more money from me than actually putting it to use. Now, I just support causes that I have some connection to (like the British Surfing Museum). It’s one of the best collections of surf history I’ve ever seen and Peter Robinson, it’s curator, is in the process of finding it a permanent location so I try and help where I can.
What are you most grateful for?
Luck. You can be the smartest, most intelligent person in the world, but if you have bad luck, you really won’t have much at all. I’ve been really lucky over the years and I’m very grateful for it.
What’s next for Keiron Lewis?
I’ve just moved to Sydney with my wife and currently pulling the pieces together to do a group show over here. The plan is just to just get better at everything— better surfer, better husband, better artist.
Find out more about Keiron Lewis here.