I had a conversation with a friend yesterday who has worked in the surf industry for many years. We were discussing business, the economy and life.
He was complimenting me on my great success. This is a man I respect.
I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I feel like a failure.
The surf industry and the private club that it has become has not been very supportive of me. To some I am just some kook who will not go away.
I make a living despite them because real people and real surfers can see me and they know who I am. I guess in some ways I do feel successful, but not in the terms most people validate themselves.
My career has not brought me great wealth, but has allowed me to pursue my goals and dreams. My life is full of adventure, with great people, a wonderful family, and a freedom few enjoy.
I would love to have more financial stability but not at the cost of what I think is right or just.
Earlier in my career, I quit the two best gigs I ever had in the surf industry; the first tried to tell me I could not create art after work, they held my job over my head trying to try to instill fear in me and the other employees, by using me as an example. I quit on the spot because it was wrong.
I left the second company when it went in a direction I did not approve of, with new people I did not trust or want to work with. That was difficult to quit; I had to leave everything I worked so hard for and start over. My so called friends there thought I was stupid wasting my opportunities and turning down a great pay check.
Many Companies do not want to employ people like me, they want robots, yes-men and paper pushers. That’s just not me and I am not going to change for anyone.
I want to get things done and speak my mind. They want to use me but they do not want me in their club to tell them they have become what all real surfers despise.
It seems I have always been here on the fringe, an outsider, independent. It is a very lonely place sometimes.
I know that I am lucky that enough people outside of the industry, like my art and can see me for who I am, to stand by me.
My wife and I could not have picked a more difficult way to make a living, but we have persevered beyond the surf industry and tried to lead the way for others like us.
We have had to invent new ways to do business as an artist and it has been a benefit to all artists. I have been a professional artist now for over twenty years and we have survived the last few years where many have not. I guess that is success. It has been real people who have supported us over the years, and anyone who has met us in person knows what we are all about.
Our goal is to inspire people, and from reading many of your letters and feedback it has worked. Thank you for allowing me to chase my dreams and feed my family, it is only with your support that we do so.