I am the biggest and most whole-hearted advocate for print design in this ever evolving digital world. Despite the world efforts to diminish print activity for environment and usability sake, I believe that print design is king. It's more tangible, more tactile and more abrasive than anything involved in the digital realm. I believed that, despite the rumors, print could never die.
Until this morning.
Upon opening my eyes, grabbing my phone (like any well connected human of our day and age) and clicking immediately to Instagram, my feed was full of funeral style news. Surfing Magazine was dead. Done. Complete.
The last issue would be showing up in my mailbox that morning. It was the last time I would ever be able to pull my main source of inspiration out of my mailbox again.
It sounds dramatic, I get that. But to me, this magazine represented so much more than the men and women traveling to exotic places to surf the best barrels and drink the cheapest beer. To me, this magazine was full of adventures of far places I longed to go to someday, role models of the alternative lifestyle who were actually successfully making it in the real world and hope of one day working for such a company that survived off of the vibe of compiling all of these compelling stories into one INSANELY designed issue each month.
I have been collecting every monthly issue of Surfing Magazine since I was 15 years old. I am now almost 23. Each one is stacked neatly in my room, on two overflowing shelves, some tattered and torn from previous projects and inspirations and others in mint condition. I have never rid myself of one of them, endlessly weighing myself down by carrying at least two or three in my backpack during college or in my beach bag all summer.
When I was younger, I didn't exactly know what connected me to this magazine and set it apart from all of the others on the shelves. I sometimes wondered during homework sessions at Barnes and Noble why I would spend all my weekly allowance attaining the current or back issues of Surfing magazine when my mom thought I was studying Anatomy or Algebra. Most girls my age were obsessed with Teen Vogue or Seventeen Magazine. I loved the stories, of course, but I wasn't an avid surfer. I grew up at the beach all summer but abandoned my dreams of being Bethany Hamilton at a young age after I realized how much I simply enjoyed watching and photographing people who were much better at it than I was.
I became addicted to the culture, never abandoning my strong ties to the magazine. Then one day it hit me as I was looking at some centerfold article on CJ Hobgood. It was the layout, the typography (not that I knew what that was at the time), the excitement in the page and the fact that it looked like nothing else.
My family is extremely Left Brained. Extremely. Through high school and the beginning of college I never really fostered my creative side, instead I applied to be a Mathematics major at UNCW, like a good child, it's what my parents wanted me to do. I didn't struggle, I was good at Math, but I knew I wanted to do something else. I was talking to my dad one day when he was at his wits end with me and my career choice ambiguity as a sophomore in college and I simply pulled out the latest issue of Surfing Magazine, opened it to a well designed page and yelled "I DON'T KNOW WHAT THIS IS CALLED. BUT I WANT TO DO THIS."
So I took a stab in the dark and applied and was accepted to the Graphic Design program at MICA. Lord knows how, at the time I literally had no portfolio and no design experience at all as I was showing them work from my AP Art classes in high school and shitty old pictures I took of my sisters on the beach in '08.
Along my career there, I learned the programs, I learned professional design and I learned how much I was not a traditional designer at my core. I loved art school, but I hated Swiss design, I hated the Bauhaus and Minimalism (still does) creeped me out. I hated the normal things I was apparently supposed to like and appreciate. I created designs that weren't much like the other students. I thrived by doing this in some areas and was put down and aligned again with traditional typography at other times. The perils of the art student, limited freedom on topics you don't really give a shit about half of the time (weep, weep, weep, cry, cry, cry).
My time there was short, important and educational. But I still just wanted to create designs in a world and industry that was not the norm, and this fueled my passions since day one. Surfing magazine always stood at the forefront of any design and art projects; from designing packaging for surf wax to collaging a whole 5'4" board with solely Surfing Magazine Material (a task which I will never sign myself up for again after inhaling so much resin). It was my inspiration, driving design principles and ethic since I even knew what design was.
Nowadays, everything is digital. Print publications are becoming far and few. I don't know what the cause was for the doors of Surfing Magazine to close, but today, I sit here and wish to offer a certain thank you to a magazine who I owe far too much to. I don't know one person who works there but owe them almost everything. Thank you for the endless inspiration, for teaching me everything I know and love about design and most importantly showing me how to break the rules since day one.
It was a great run. Sad I only caught the tail end of it. Only the good die young. Ladies and gentleman, print is officially dead.