29 may mmx
A conversation with Scott Massey, a surfer, designer, artiste, curator, and zine publisher
Scott Massey is a surfer, designer, artiste, curator, zine publisher and a huge source of inspiration for me. I met Scott in design school—long before he took his East Coast hang-ten abilities to the beaches of California. For the past couple of years, he’s been gathering the jettisoned creative ephemera of fellow designers, artists, and photographers to create the zine and occasional gallery shows that constitute his RRR project. We’re excited to carry RRR in our shop this season and to share with you this interview with Mr. Massey.
Mark: What gave you the idea to do RRR?
Scott: There were a couple of things that came together all at once to make this project happen. Main thing was that I wanted something to work on with friends. I wanted to collect all the creative people that I’ve met along the way and make something worthwhile, really mix them together and make something new (even if from old work). It was something that was brewing in my head for a while, but I wasn’t really sure how to do it or if people would be into it. I am a graphic designer, so we get to be creative to an extent during the working hours but we also have to make a lot of crap. These pieces of crap, collect into piles of crap that litter hallways, studios, streets, oceans, everywhere...I felt like devoting my time to something that might not be considered crap (and that hopefully people wouldn’t discard) would be a good idea. So that was one thing.
The other reason RRR seemed like a good idea is that recycling and environmental issues are often looked at as cheesy, hokey, or something liberal hippies think of while smoking pot. I don’t consider myself a hippie and I don’t smoke pot, but I do spend a lot of time in the ocean and I’m smart enough to realize that things aren’t right. Garbage is everywhere, the water smells like pee, and (as I have learned) if you go in the water after it rains you have a real death wish. As a designer, I thought it might be nice to make a project where recycling and environmental issues were at the center of image making but not necessarily screaming it in your face. The artists are given the freedom to interpret the theme of RRR in there own way. This can be through process, concept, or subject matter. Doesn’t matter.
M: You’re currently working on RRR2. Do you plan to continue doing an RRR every year?
S: At this point yes. In ways it’s gotten harder to do it the second time around, but I also realized that for the first one we didn’t know what we were doing. So for the second one, we corrected some of those problems (like giving the artists and designers at more than two weeks to contribute work) but news ones also pop up. I think as long as people enjoy the project we’ll continue to do it, if they don’t like it then we are just creating more junk. Another important factor is whether the artists and myself are having fun. Right now it’s a project, it’s not a job, so we are free to explore the concept and be creative. If someone isn’t feeling creative within this loose structure than they don’t have to contribute. So, we have to figure out ways for each show and book to be different, fun and not redundant.
M: I know you’re addicted to surfing...are there any great surf culture movies, books, artists etc. that you would consider inspiring and essential for someone to consume?
S: Yes, addicted but not able to surf right now as much as I would like, which makes it unbearable to watch surf movies (even though they make me happy). I would say the first batch of movies from Jack Johnson, Chris Malloy and the Brushfire crew really helped me get through college and dream of days where I could just surf and hang with my friends. Movies like Shelter, September Sessions, Sprout, and more all kind of lead me out to California to reach those dreams and make that lifestyle a reality. It’s not a reality yet but semi-close!? There is also an older movie called “The Innermost Limits of Pure Fun” that makes me pretty happy. It was shot in the 70s by George Greenough (who is one of the legends) and it’s one of those films that makes you want to leave town and go on a trip. It has a great textural feeling and you can tell it’s more of a documentation than a series of staged events. They even had a house band play music throughout the film (very raw). I guess I am drawn to that and look for that in art, music, life...old school, I guess.
Books—too many to name and I have shelves breaking with them, but I will name two that inspire me greatly everyday. Art Brewer’s “Bunker Spreckles“ and “Margaret Kilgallen: In The Sweet Bye & Bye.” Both books I think will transcend time because they are objects of quality, craftsmanship, and sincerity. Art Brewer has been very helpful in the RRR project, always answering my emails, sending amazing work and participating in shows. After visiting his studio one day, we were talking about the Spreckles book and he gets up, grabs me a copy, signs it, and hands it over. The thing I like most about the book is that it’s a visual record of time Art spent with a group of surfers (the main focus on Clark Cable’s step son, Bunker). He was a wild man and it’s a amazing ride.
“In the Sweet Bye & Bye” is an object that I pick up and look at all the time. It was designed by Jon Sueda from Stripe LA and it’s as beautiful and tactile as Margaret’s work. I bought a copy of the first edition on eBay after it went out of print. Her work seems to have influenced all or many of the Beautiful Losers to some degree. She had an incredible eye for typography and ability to tell stories in a simple and direct manner. I also like her embrace of collaborative projects for schools and public spaces—doing murals and making accessible art. At some point I would like RRR to reach out more for public interaction and involvement.
M: What’s your favorite post-wicked-surf-session meal?
S: Nice, short answer questions!! Breakfast burrito and then a nap.
M: Have you ever seen a mermaid?
S: I don’t know if they exist but I understand the concept and need for them at the time. We could probably use some right now...
words Mark Kane
image Portrait of Scott by Mark Kane (borrowing some of Scott’s work)
image Remaining images by Scott Massey