Micah Wood is a California surfer/shaper/artist. A modern day renaissance man, Micah is a talented and popular San Diego shaper as well as a fine art painter. Stating that gratitude is the greatest thing he has ever learned in his life, we drop in on Micah to learn more.
What was your life like growing up?
I definitely feel pretty fortunate to have had such a great childhood. I grew up in San Diego. My family lived in a really cool house in Downtown. I never lived by the beach, but my parents took my brother and I to the beach quite a bit. I learned how to surf at around six, but really got into it around eight years old. We were always camping, fishing, skateboarding, riding bikes—anything that consisted of being outside.
When did you get your first surfboard?
My first surfboard was a 6’2” Tony Staples. It was a channel bottom thruster with a rounded pintail, purple airbrushed bottom and a clear top. I was six when my dad got me that board.
What was the feeling you had when you first stood up on a surfboard?
I started pretty young, so I didn’t realize how fun it was for the first two years. I loved the water, but wasn’t too into surfing until I was brave enough to paddle all the way out. Riding the whitewater was only so fun, but everything changed when I actually was able to takeoff before the wave broke and ride down the line. Once that happened, I was totally hooked.
Who did you look up to and admire when you were a young boy?
Parents and brother aside, I always looked up to my grandfather. He had to have been one of the wisest men I have ever known. He was the type of person who knew how to fix anything. He was always helping people. He didn’t complain much.
I have always been close with my family, so I basically grew up admiring and looking up to my family members—each one for various reasons.
Who or what inspires you?
I find beauty and inspiration in uniqueness. A surfer who has found his or her own true style is what really stands out to me. Same with artwork. My favorite artists are the ones who don’t try to paint or draw like someone else, but have found their own style.
Tell us about your art. What is your process?
I enjoy painting seascapes, waves, surfers, beaches … sometimes I will throw in a few birds or boats. It mainly depends on what my mood is or what I am trying to portray. I love to paint the uniqueness in Creation. My style of painting is to make my subject matter look lifelike; some might classify it as traditional realism. Some paintings look alive even though they’re just a painting. I try to capture the emotion, energy, or feeling and transfer it into my paintings for others to enjoy.
What is the greatest thing you have learned in your life?
To be thankful. More times than not, things happen in life that we don’t understand—sometimes bad and sometimes good. Sometimes it is for us to learn and be blessed from, and other times it is for us to go through it so others can learn and be blessed. Either way, I have learned how little we are in control of the overall outcome of things, so I am thankful to be able to understand that when things don’t go the way we expect them to, it is because there is a bigger and better reason that we may not have ever realized.
What are you most proud of?
Right now, it would have to be my new shop. It’s not much, but it sure does have character! It’s small, but it definitely gets the job done. I have just enough room for a shaping room, office space and an art studio. I feel really comfortable in the new shaping room, and the art studio is quite an upgrade from where I was painting before. I have never really built walls or done any electrical work, so that was pretty neat learning as I went along, building the whole place out.
Of all the places you have traveled to, what place in particular stands out and why?
To be honest, I haven’t traveled much. I used to travel to Mexico with my family quite a bit. Dad would take my brother and I on surf trips down there. The cool thing is that since I haven’t traveled much, I still have a lot to see—which makes me super excited to one day get out there and see what all of those exotic surf spots are really about.
How did you get started shaping boards?
I worked my way from the bottom up working for Gordon & Smith Surfboards. I started off packaging surfboards, cleaning up and putting together skateboards. I then became a polisher. I ended up putting in about eight or nine years of learning all of the steps of glassing a surfboard before I learned how to shape. Shaping was the last step in the art of building surfboards that I learned.
I mainly wanted to get the design ideas out of my head and into a surfboard. I didn’t know how to explain to other shapers what I was thinking, so I figured I would learn how to shape the board myself. One board led to another, and sooner than later I started catching on. That’s when I began shaping for Gordon & Smith Surfboards. I had been shaping for G&S for about two years when I decided it was a good time to start my own surfboard label. I wanted to give myself the ability to experiment in different designs and surfboard styles.
What brings you the most happiness in the world?
When certain things happen in life, that shows me that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. Those moments are pretty cool; those are the moments that make me feel like I am doing the right thing. It’s like asking the question “Why am I here?” and you are then given a true answer.
What meaning does surfing hold for you and how has it changed our life?
I have been surfing for most of my life, so I don’t know what it would be like to not surf. I am definitely addicted. If I don’t surf for awhile, I can tend to get a bit stressed or bummed out; I start wondering why I have been working in the surf industry for this long. (Laughs) So, even if the surf is bad, I usually force myself to go out, and I always end up having a blast out in the water! One good turn or clean noseride can make any surf session worthwhile. So, every time I go for a surf, it reminds me why I build surfboards. Building surfboards and surfing is just way too fun to give up!
As for it changing my life, I wouldn’t consider it life changing per se, but more of a path that I have decided to take. One thing led to another, now my every day routine consists of surfing in some way—whether it’s painting waves, shaping, surfing, fishing off of my surfboards or even thinking of new surfboard designs. I don’t seem to be able get away from it too often. So, I wouldn’t say that is has changed my life, but it definitely has become a huge part it.
What are some of the people you feel are shaping the path of surfing today?
There are quite a few people who are pushing surfboard designs to a new level. A lot of shapers have been playing with the old ideas and putting a modern twist to them, which I find really inspiring. I was working in the same shop as Jeff McCallum for a period of time and enjoyed seeing his knee boards, spoons and paipo boards that he has been working on, along with his super fun quadfin designs. I recently have been stoked watching Tyler Warren surf on his new boards that he has been riding; he seems to rip on all sorts of strange, but cool-looking boards. I don’t know all of the shapers that are involved with his new boards, but those designs look really interesting and seem to work well.
All and all, it’s really neat seeing surfers picking up boards outside of their norm and trying different designs other than the typical quiver. No longer is it only thrusters, fish and logs that you see in the line-up. There are so many interesting designs being ridden that are keeping people super stoked on surfing and constantly challenging the status quo.
Did you know Wayne Rich won the Shape Off at the last Ventura Sacred Craft? He’s good! It’s true craftsmen like him that keep us newcomers always looking to shape something that is not only different, but works really well too.
What is your current favorite board? Your favorite surf spot?
I have been really getting into my shortboard designs lately, but I still ride a 9’8” Micah Wood Model the most. As for my favorite surf spot, this last week was Cardiff. I can only wait to see what my favorite spot is for next week. It changes quite a bit.
What’s your favorite meal?
Fresh fish that I caught. There is something special about going out on a successful fishing adventure, cleaning the fish and cooking it to share with good company.
What are you currently listening to on your iPod?
If I had an iPod, I would be playing a random shuffle of James Brown, Neil Young, anything with Jack White, Led Zeppelin, Bob Marley, The Beatles and Greyboy Allstars.
What are you most grateful for?
It is hard to say one thing that I am most grateful for. I am extremely grateful to have had the pleasure to have worked with Ernie Higgins, the owner of Waterlines Unlimited. He was a good boss and has been a good friend for a long time. He allowed me to spend the time to learn every step of building a traditional handcrafted surfboard. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for him. Thanks, Ernie!
I also can’t leave out Kaley Swift. She has been there for me, helping out from the beginning. A lot of people out there reading this probably already know who she is, so I won’t go into too many details. She’s my best friend—incredible surfer. She can cheer up anyone just with her presence alone. We have been together for over five years now! We have been pretty much running my business together. I usually go to her for advice or for insight on new ideas or surfboard colors. She really keeps my head on straight. I never realized that running my own business would be so stressful. I am really grateful to have Kaley in my life, and for her endless amount of help and support.
What’s next for Micah Wood?
Lots of surfing, making fun surfboards, plenty of art shows and many fish dinners!