Like bumble bees in search of nectar, though sadly with no capacity for flight, we’re always on the lookout for surf photography that moves us in some way. So imagine how stoked we were when we first came across surfer and photographer Ryan Tatar, who we asked for a chat back in 2009. And since his amazing pictures still mesmerize us, here’s an online version of the print article from Cooler issue 20
Interview by Sam Haddad, photography by Ryan Tatar
Which came first, the surfing or the taking photos?
It’s hard to say. I was into both endeavours early, but there seemed to be a distinct separation between the two hobbies until just a couple of years ago.
How does each influence your relationship with the other?
I had always loved snapping photos during travels to show my friends and family. When I moved to California from the east coast, there was just something about the natural beauty of my new home, and the interesting surf culture that existed around it that just struck me as being something I wanted to be a part of. As I paddled out and experienced wave riding and the many great things about the ocean, I found it increasingly difficult to explain the pure emotional beauty of the act of surfing to my land-locked family and friends on the other side of the country. Surfing and California just seemed to find my creative side and both gave me a much-needed outlet from daily life.
What’s your earliest memory of the ocean?
Summer vacations at crowded beaches with my family, bodysurfing Cape Cod, and seeing sleepy mellow fishing towns in Maine.
Where do you live?
I just moved from California across country to this beautiful rootsy historic town with really fun surf called Wilmington, in Northern Carolina.
Are there lots of surfers there?
Where’s your nearest break?
The nearest and favourite break so far is Crystal Pier in Wrightsville Beach. Ironically it shares the very same name as the nearest break to my old abode in southern California.
Tell us about your connection to Shelter Surf Shop?
Shelter Surf Shop gives people like me an outlet to showcase my artwork and meet like-minded individuals. It is perhaps the most unpretentious surf shop I’ve ever visited and the owners Graham and Kim Day are just the most stoked couple ever. They are the true definition of a “mom and pop” shop. Instead of stocking a bunch of corporate clothing and peddling what I view as useless junk marketed to surfers. They provide a marketplace of mostly local goods, including photographs, fine art, homemade organic cotton shirts and hats, boardshorts from small eclectic backyard surf brands, and some of the most beautiful hand-shaped sleds you will ever lie your eyes upon. While most of the items are from local folks and small companies, they also stock a few oddities from far away places like Australia and Japan.
What other artists do you admire?
A LOT of folks influence my artwork. I would say Thomas Campbell, Ty Williams, Cyrus Sutton, and Ron Stoner the most. Then there are tons of others like Rob Kulisek, Yusuke Hanai, Ryan Heywood, Liz Cockrum, Keiron “Seamouse” Lewis, Alex Kopps, Serena Mitnik-Miller, Leroy Grannis, Jeff Canham, David Hanson, Heather Brown, Adrian Knott, and the good guys over at the Critical Slide Society. I would have to give a lot of credit to an artist named Andy Davis for really drawing me into the world of art, his doodles seemed to capture what I believe is the true essence of surfing, and through checking in on his artworks I discovered this plethora of other talented individuals.
What do you like most about doing your blog?
It gives me a place to collect various surfy things that are inspiring to me, and also gives me a place to put new works out there to share with friends and strangers.
What are you most looking forward to over the next six months?
Travelling with my girlfriend to these new places I’ve never been to for some art shows I’m doing. Japan, Asbury Park, New Jersey, and Portland, Maine. It should be a fun and mellow summer.