Danica Elbertse is a talented young California surfer/artist. Equally adept at sliding waves as designing an art deco poster, Danica has a unique style all her own. We took some time to learn more about what makes her tick.
What was your life like growing up?
I’m the middle child and the only girl. I have two brothers; we’re each a year apart. Weekends were “family time.” My dad loves his boat so we were always, always on the water. We traveled to the Carribean and Mexico a lot but I definitely grew up in Dana Point Harbor. If we weren’t near water, we went camping in the desert.
We ain’t really city folk, so any chance we got we were outside. My dad wouldn’t really let us watch television… and he still doesn’t. Besides playtime, I also grew up with the family business, American Eagle Wheel (started in Huntington Beach). Been making wheels since 76’ in the U.S.A. and still do today. I remember seeing lowriders at the car shows when we lived in Chino. When we moved to Orange County, my mom would pick us up from school in her lowered suburban and people would kinda trip out. This was before soccer moms had 20s.
When did you get your first surfboard?
I believe the very first board we got was when we moved back to California. However it wasn’t until I was seventeen that I really knew what I wanted to ride and got my first log. It was a Model T by Donald Takayama. It changed surfing for me completely.
What was the feeling you had when you first stood up on a surfboard?
Wish I could remember, though some days it feels like it’s the first time… .so I’d have to say goodness – with a little bit of “woah”
Who did you look up to and admire when you were a young girl?
Well I looked up to Madonna a little but that all changed when she started rapping. I looked up to my mama and papa as well and thank God they have good taste in music. People didn’t so much inspire me, I was more interested in their creative output.
Who/what inspires you?
Culture, the West, Art Nouveau, Mexicans, Christian Dior’s “New Look,” The Talking Heads, jazz, blues, Egon Schiele, Georgia O’Keefe, Agnes Martin, France, books, outer space, the South, my friend Matt Kim, Sophia of the Mermaid Bones. And all the kids ‘round here doin’ something creatively their own.
In surfing – innovators, influentials, shapers, and icons are all necessary… but I get more excited about the young “nobodys” who are strange and weird. Even the ones I will never meet. I like just knowing they’re out there doing what they do. I saw some footage of Linda Benson the other day. It made me very excited.
What is your process when you create your art?
Candles. Tunes. And a monumental mess. Of course, me crying my eyes out to Edith Piaf’s “Hymne a l’amour.” SO French.
What is the greatest thing you have learned in your life?
Love, most importantly. Also the hard lesson of learning that my parents were in fact… right.
What are you most proud of?
At this point in my life, it is good to have all my fingers and toes in tact. Otherwise, I am most proud that I am following my dreams – which two or three years ago didn’t seem believable.
Of all the places you have traveled to, what place in particular stands out and why?
Mexico. It’s the wild. It’s what California should be. I have wet dreams about Scorpion. Never been, but once things settle down a bit, I’ll be dipping my toes in that fine perfection.
What meaning does surfing hold for you and how has it changed your life?
It seems like everyday surfing becomes more valuable and necessary. There’s still those days when the water gets crystal clear, the waves are purrfect, and its quiet. It’s a different world. For me, I need that.
What brings you the most happiness in the world?
Getting my belly rubbed.
Who are some of the people you feel are shaping the path for surfing today?
Joel Tudor, Alex Knost, Dane Reynolds, Tyler Warren, Kassia Meador, Belinda Baggs, Kelly Slatez, Christian Wach, Robin Kegel, the boys at Gato, the boys at Almond, Terry Martin, Maurice at Edit Industries. As well as the influentials from the past; there’s still an impact being interpreted.
There’s still a void though for a truly stylish, feminine lady who can surf whatever and surf it well like a woman should. One day…
What is your current favorite board? Your favorite surfspot?
My favorite board is my main squeeze, my lavender Love Edit shaped by Terry Martin. A Plank. And Malibu ’til I cross the border.
What’s your favorite meal?
Spaghetti with butter and salt. French fries dipped in ice cream.
What are you currently listening to on your iPod?
Nina Simone, Nouvelle Vague, Jorge Ben, Amy Winehouse, Crying Time by Ray Charles, The Mattson 2, Johnny Cash, Brenda Lee, B.I.G. and Vikki Carr live at the Persian Room on vinyl.
What are you most grateful for?
God, my family, my love and best friend, my pup Sofie and today. Oh, and cheese & chocolate.
What’s next for Danica Elbertse?
Well, just did a job for Levi’s Europe. Finishing my degrees in Fashion Design and then Business Management. Starting my business. I would love to travel and film. A live appearance on the 24th at the Surfing Heritage Museum and possible collabo in September. As for this evening, I think I’m gonna pack up the boy, pup and boards and get my sloice.
More information about Danica Elbertse can be found here. Danica will also be appearing at The Surfing Heritage Museum on Saturday, July 24, located at the South Coast Plaza, Costa Mesa, CA. Photography by Dana Morris.