That was the question that a mix of surfers, shapers and artists tried to answer at the annual Vissla Creators Gathering at Ecology Center in Orange County, California.
Danny Hess, Derrick Disney, Donald Brink, Evan Marks, Jack Coleman, Jeremiah Klein, Noa Mizuno, and Thomas Campbell were a few of the creators who gathered on a farm last month. They spent a few days surfing, creating, and riffing on how to live a more sustainable life. But what did they learn, and how can it help us lead to a more meaningful life? We asked them.
Evan Marks: Educate creative minds on a new relationship between food and our beautiful planet.
For the last decade, surfer Evan Marks has run the 25-acre farm at the Ecology Center. It is designed to shift culture, by curating ecological experiences for everyone and providing creative yet achievable solutions for thriving on planet earth. His ultimate goal is to contribute to an abundant future.
“I got into farming as I was a surfer and picked up rubbish, and I followed that thread upstream and realised how we farm and how we grow our food is killing our oceans,” said Marks. “And selfishly I didn’t want that to stop me from my passion for surfing. The aim here is to gather creative minds and great surfers and show them how we are dedicated to remodelling and redeveloping a new relationship with this beautiful planet. We can educate these creative minds on how we grow all our food for our needs, so that it respects not only the terrestrial plant but the ocean as well.”
Donald Brink: Take Inspiration and Forge Your Own Path
Donald Brink was born and raised in South Africa and developed a fascination for surfboard design and dynamics. Brink Surfboards is based in California and Brink is known for his hand shaped, asymmetrical boards and for taking the art of shaping down some unconventional paths.
“It takes a shared interest to bring people together, but at this gathering, there was a confidence I gleaned from watching someone do well in their path, because every path has its challenges. I had a conversation with Danny Hess and it was fuel. It felt like a telegraph to the next post, and you are going somewhere together, and not hand in hand, but in your own lane. I’m just trying to be me, but having people around you that are brilliant makes you double down and go deep on one’s own path. And that’s exciting.”
Danny Hess: Get Out Of Your Bubble
A long-time woodworker and surfer from Santa Cruz, Danny Hess’s goal is to create legacy surfboards rather than seasonal one-offs. He is as concerned as much with design as its environmental impact, and is always experimenting and pushing toward better materials and craftsmanship.
“This experience took me out of my northern Californian bubble of shaping wooden surfboards, and brings me into an environment of people who are approaching wave riding and creating craft and art totally differently. That inspired me to think differently about the boards, the shapes, and the materials I’m using. I’ll leave here and be more open to new ideas about how I make boards and create art.”
Donny Brink: Thing Long Term, Think Big Picture
“I was inspired by Thomas Campbell to see how long he has committed to his films and his vision. These are long-term projects and big-picture ideas with incredible long story arcs. If we are going to make our world sustainable, just as in our art, we have to apply long-term thinking and see it through. It’s about planning for the future and immediate action. That’s something I’ll take with me from the farm.
Thomas Campbell: Have Peak Salad Days
Thomas Campbell is a California-based visual artist, filmmaker, sculptor, and photographer. His surf films made in the 2000s, The Seedling, Sprout, and The Present, helped reignite the rise of a new surfing counterculture.
“It was useful hanging with Donald Brink, who is projecting into these areas of thought that no one I know is. So by going along with his thinking, there is a process of osmosis where you also think,” said Campbell. “And that brings harmony and joy. But mainly I was inspired by Evan Marks, as the food we ate was incredible. It’s so rare to have what I call ‘peak salad moments’. At the Vissla Creators Gathering, I had two or three each day. The simple act of eating beautiful food made with love and understanding, well, it’s the basis of humanity. I, or we, need to do more of that.”