Interview by Glenn Sakamoto
Isle Anderson is a talented surfer born and raised in Southern California. He can be seen shredding waves daily at San Onofre or Newport on his Art In Motion sleds designed and built by shaper Todd Messick. We spoke with Isle to learn more.
Where are you from and what was your childhood like?
Grew up here in Southern California. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a really positive environment. My family was a good influence on me. Always pushing me in the right direction. Somewhere along the line Dad pushed me into a wave.
When did you get your first surfboard?
I was lucky enough to start surfing very young. I vaguely remember Dad taught me on this 10’ Bruce Jones. It was huge and I was a little scared of it hitting me in the shallows. It got me that one time and I couldn’t forget it. So eventually he got me a BZ soft top. The really floppy stringer-less ones from before the WaveStorm era. I still have the thing, I’ve recently been riding it without the center fin making it really loose and slippery.
What was the feeling you had when you first stood on a surfboard?
I was a really little kid back then. I’m sure i was more proud about not going poo-poo in my diaper than I was about the wave I was riding. I grew up in the water. It came naturally, I think.
Who did you look up to and admire when you were a child?
While everyone else was still all about the mainstream players, I tended focus on the guys that were kinda on their own mission. Guys like Wingnut, Nat Young (the old Australian one not the kid on the WSL – although he's pretty good, too.), Donovan Frankenreiter and post-competition Rob Machado. Also a lot of the dudes surfing Sano when I was a grom were all pretty influential.
Of all the places you have traveled to, what place in particular stands out? And why?
I really enjoyed camping at El Capitan when I was younger. We would go surf the little mellow right at Refugio. There was so much life and seaweed to swim through. Just a really good time to be a kid building forts on the beach and pretending your Dad getting out of the water was a pirate. I was pretty upset when I heard about the oil leak from those pipes nearby. That really messed up something so sacred to me.
Who/what inspires you?
I draw a lot of inspiration from the people around me. At the moment i’m getting a lot from my group of carpool killers; Andy Langeland, Matt MCoy, Brandon Quilligan, and Nick McClure. These guys are always stoking me out and getting me in the water as much as possible. Remember surfing is more fun when you do it with your friends.
What is the greatest thing you have learned in your life?
Live in the present, but plan for the future. Don’t dwell on the past. Always move forward and don’t get stagnant. If you’re bored and unhappy change something. It’s easier said than done – but it’s worth it.
Do you have any regrets or wish you had done something differently?
I wish I would have practiced skateboarding a lot more when I was younger. It hurts more when i fall now.
What are you most proud of?
All the friends I’ve made. I like to think i’m personable and make friends easily in and out of the water. The more friends you have the less competition in the water. Then I’m not fighting them for waves all day – instead we’re just sharing them.
What meaning does surfing hold for you?
Surfing has always been my big breath of fresh air. When the world makes me feel like everything is closing in, I can paddle out there and open up my chest a little bit and take in all those negative ions. You can always tell when I’ve been out of the water for too long. I get kinda dry and flat.
What brings you the most happiness in the world?
Q-tip cotton swabs post surfing. Cleaning the water out of your ears is borderline euphoric. Noseriding is pretty cool too, I guess.
Who are some of the people you feel are shaping the path for surfing today?
A lot of people are just going round in circles doing what others have before them with a tweak here and a little personal flair here. For my own personal surfing, Todd Messick from Art In Motion Designs has been helping me progress my surfing quite a bit. Since he got me riding these wide tails with shovel noses on almost rocker-less boards, I’ve become quite comfortable with my toes over.
What is your favorite board? Your favorite surf spot?
My “Crescent Isle” model kicks butt right now. I’m really getting used to it in all sorts of conditions but it was really designed to surf Newport’s beach break. Specifically the Blackies Pier Bowl. I ride that left that breaks off the end of the pier in my dreams at night.
What's your favorite meal?
Like any good California boy. I love a good taco. Madre y padre taquerias are the best.
What are you currently listening to on your iPod?
Honestly, I lost my iPod awhile ago i’ve just been listening to the radio. Changing the stations as I go through each city. I tend to like instrumentals. otherwise i try to sing over the actual singers in most songs.
What are you most grateful for?
Funny you ask. I recently started bartending at the new Gratitude in Newport Beach. It’s a 100% plant-based restaurant with a phenomenal craft cocktail selection. I’m really happy to have a job that pays the bills for once.
What's next for Isle Anderson?
Well as of next week i’m going to be heading up to Big Sur with Katin USA to shoot some surf and lifestyle stuff for their upcoming line. It feels good working with a company that started back in 1954 filling the void for products specifically designed for the diehard surfers and adventurers. Can’t wait to see what the road will take me!