Ana Osgood is a California surfer/artist. Originally from the East Coast, she migrated west and now calls Malibu her home break. Trained in the arts and multi-talented – Ana is a successful painter, jewelry maker, and food stylist. We spoke with Ana to find out more.
What was growing up like for you?
It was fun. I grew up in Vermont and Maine. In Vermont we lived in a small rural ski town, population 1,700. It was beautiful and we had endless freedom as kids: swimming in rivers, building forts in the woods, building epic sled runs and skiing icy cold mountains. I am one of those people that can say… “When I was young”.… I walked to school through rain, mud, snow, and zero degree weather, and hunting season; where my Mom lovingly put me in a bright orange hat and vest and told me to sing loudly so the hunters would know I was coming! We had beautiful land, gardens and I was taught very early on to love the outdoors and nature.
As soon as school was out for the year we would drive to Maine and take a 2-hour ferry across Penobscot Bay to our house on an island. There we would spend our entire summer. Lobstering is the main source of commerce on the island and as teenagers we all put our time in as stern men or women on the lobster boats. Summers were the best, a break from the long winters: my cousins, swimming, sailing, digging for clams, fishing, exploring islands, sleeping under the stars, I think I spent my entire summers outside. My parents were fun, adventurous and I am thankful for such a great childhood.
What was the feeling you had when you first stood on a surfboard?
I started late, 30 years old and I had never imagined there was a sensation like that, it was like flying, skimming across the water, and quiet, seeing the water green and moving beneath me, it was pure joy and I was hooked.… the addiction was instant. I didn’t know anything about surfing; a friend took me out one very early September morning at Venice breakwater stuck me on a long board and pushed me into a glassy early morning wave and that was it. I spent the next 6 months at the beach. I bought an old 9’8″ Hap Jacobs, a used wetsuit and began the difficult journey of learning how to surf.
What did you want to become when you were a child?
I had 10 years of intensive ballet training and there was never a moment from age 6 that I questioned what I was going to be: A professional ballet dancer. At 16 I suffered from some very serious knee injuries and was forced to stop dancing. It was heart breaking at the time but I also am very grateful that I experienced that intensity and passion towards something. I know now that those years of ballet classes were preparing me for surfing!
Who did you look up to and admire when you were a child?
My grandmother. She was a beautiful person, a talented artist and a free spirit. She encouraged me to be myself, follow my passions and above all have fun in life and laugh a lot. My mom who is beautiful, talented, fun, quirky, and an amazing athlete. She gave so much to me as a kid, and still does to this day. Both my grandmother and mother always encouraged me to be myself, not follow what everyone else was doing and be independent.
Where did you study painting?
I went to a performing arts high school in Boston for Ballet. At 16, when I was dealing with my knee injuries and had to give up dance I was asked by the school to choose another major. I was friends with one of the painting teachers and she encouraged me to a painting class and I instantly loved it. It was so different from ballet, not physical, more cerebral and I think at that age I was really interested in soaking up information and found painting to be a great outlet for me to redirect my focus. It was like a vacation after all those years of sore toes from point shoes. After high school I went to The School of the Art Institute of Chicago for a year, I am not sure exactly why but I wasn’t happy in Chicago so I transferred to The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia where I lived for 3 years. It was a fun city, easy to live in and close to New York.
What is your process when creating your art?
It really depends on what I am working on. I always seem to have different projects, series, different mediums that interest me. I would say generally my process is very organic. I might have an idea or a concept and then I just begin laying paint down on the canvas and seeing where it leads me. My process is like a journey, I love starting something with only a notion or feeling that I might want to convey and then the process begins to lead me. It is a wonderfully meditative process. I have recently been working on what I call my “dot” paintings. The only decision I make before hand is what color I want to work with, then I begin placing marks and follow the path that they create. It’s a fun process that leads me into patterns that I could never have preconceived. I can say that I am very much interested in landscape, color and pattern. Art to me is an outward expression of what lives within us innately. Art and the process of making art reminds me to be aware, to see something new. I also really enjoy working with mixed media, found objects and collage. I could never do the same style paintings over and over again, life changes so much and to me art is simply a reflection of that.
Of all the places you have traveled to, what place in particular stands out? And why?
I have been very fortunate and have traveled to many places but there is something about Baja that I really love. I think it feeds into my love of adventure, and taps into my childhood where pure happiness was when we were outside in nature and the elements. There is something “wild west” about Baja, anything can happen, you never know who you will meet, what will happen, what will the weather bring? Will the road we took last year be there this year? You spend hours of white knuckle driving and then finally arrive to your destination and there are beautiful waves waiting for you. It is raw, unspoiled and beautiful and I think the fact that it is so close to the sprawling megalopolis of So Cal fascinates me and reminds me off all that we have to be thankful for living here in So Cal. Passing over that border is escapism, I immediately feel a sense of freedom and adventure and I love that.
What code or “Golden Rule” do you live by?
Live in the moment, be kind and find humor in all situations.
Who/what inspires you?
Nature, I love the ocean, the mountains, the desert, and the sky. I will never get bored of seeing new places, traveling, meeting new people. Sometimes the simplest thing will inspire me; like driving up the coast on a sparkly winter day, it is all so beautiful, I treasure those days where I feel a connection to nature.
What is the greatest thing you have learned in your life?
That’s a tough question. I would have to say that you have to live in the moment and be thankful for what you have. I really do believe that if you put your mind to something you can make it happen. I made a big leap by moving to California; I learned that taking chances pays off.
Do you have any regrets or wish you had done something differently?
Who doesn’t? But the past is the past, there is nothing I can do about the past now, I just want to live in the moment. Any regrets, experiences, relationships, and decisions: Good or Bad, it makes me who I am today, and I have to be comfortable with that.
What are you most proud of?
Getting in my car one freezing cold morning on the East coast and driving myself across country to LA and starting a new life for myself. I was 29 and was not very happy on the East Coast. Yes, it was home but it didn’t feel right at the time, I think it was too familiar and cold. I had never been to California but liked the idea of it and had a couple friends in LA. I figured I had nothing to lose, I took a chance and it worked out. California feels like my home now and I am so grateful for the life that I have here.
What meaning does surfing hold for you and how has it changed your life?
Surfing came exactly at the right moment in my life for me. I had been in LA for about 6 months and was trying to start a new life for myself. I didn’t know a lot of people and coming from small towns back east I have always liked being part of a community. The surf community is very unique. It brings so many different people together; ages, professions, back grounds and to find that in a place like LA is remarkable. I love the people I have met through surfing and the community that it provides. There is something so special about showing up at a break anywhere between Mexico and Santa Cruz and seeing someone you know.
It is also really fun and I think as an adult to be able to still have that feeling of butterflies in your stomach when you know there is a good swell, or that feeling you have after a good day of surfing, that one good wave that makes you smile and all the layers of life’s stress dissolves in an instant; that all keeps us young and that is a real gift.
What brings you the most happiness in the world?
Surfing. I really do love it and it makes me happy… I also love being with my mom, my boyfriend and my dog. Being outside, spending a day surfing, eating good food, it’s all pretty simple, but I don’t need anything more than that.
Who are some of the people you feel are shaping the path for surfing today?
There are so many good surfers out there who do it for different reasons. I am deeply impressed by the women that go out and charge big waves, but I am equally impressed by a surfer who surfs beautifully just because they can and they love it. The surfers that impress me the most are the ones that are really good but don’t let their egos take over. They have fun in the water no matter what size the wave and they are kind. These are the people that I think are the best role models. Being humble is a great quality in a person, especially in a surfer.
What is your favorite board? Your favorite surf spot?
I love a lot of boards and love riding all shapes and sizes but right now I love my two hulls from Ian Zamora. Speedy, glide machines that are just fun fun fun. Favorite surf spot? I am a sucker for a point break… but there are so many fun places to surf. But I do love my peeps at the Bu.’
What’s your favorite meal?
Does red wine and chocolate count as a meal? I think so… Sushi, Thai food, I love hamburgers with blue cheese, a good salad, anything fresh and seasonal.
What are you currently listening to on your iPod?
Right now mostly Pandora Radio, some of my current stations: Zero Seven, The Fugees, Lauren Hill, Anything R&B, Reggae, David Bowie. Amy Winehouse, Stevie Wonder, some cheesy 80’s music too.
What’s next for Ana Osgood?
A surf trip to some uncrowded waves.
Learn more about Ana Osgood and her work here.