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On surfboard shaping and striving to not be inside: a conversation with artist jeremiah kille

On surfboard shaping and striving to not be inside: a conversation with artist jeremiah kille

Aug 14, 2019


Jeremiah Kille walked us through his Santa Cruz art studio on a breezy California spring day. Colorful and abstract, his art explores themes of nature and coexistence. We had tracked the surfboard-shaper-turned-artist down on Instagram and thought he'd be the perfect model for our upcoming catalogs. In between shutter clicks, we learned about Jeremiah’s beginning as a surfboard shaper, where he draws inspiration as an artist, and how he cuts down on plastic consumption in his work.


 In The Responsible Flannel and Organic Dyed Chino


Jeremiah, how'd you end up in the Bay area?

I had just come off a season of mountain guiding in my early twenties on Mt. Shasta and the Eastern Sierra and was wanting to move to the coast to focus on surfing. Earlier that same year my sister moved to the Santa Cruz mountains which seemed like a natural entry point for me to the area.


What’s your favorite thing about Santa Cruz?

 It would be too difficult to list just one thing. I love that I can ride world class waves and trails on the same day and still get in a full days work and spend time with my family if I plan right. The culture here is odd at times and I think I really appreciate that about this place. It's crazy to be so close to Silicon Valley where things are happening at warp speed yet Santa Cruz is cloistered away on the coast going at its own pace.

In the Pitchstone Twill Button Down


So, how'd you learn the art of surfboard shaping?

Originally I got a "How To" video by John Carper and I used that to shape my first boards. Just a few short months into shaping I got a job with "Stretch" surfboards and from there was trained by Stretch and watched other shapers in the area.


Can you give us an overview of the process?

More and more surfboards are shaped with computer software and cut out on CNC machines. I learned to shape at the end of an era where shapers used planers and hand tools. Shaping is a peripheral part of my business now but I still shape all my boards by hand, it's a very therapeutic process. Part of the simplicity of the tools used to create a surfboard was one of my early draws.

In The Responsible Flannel and Organic Dyed Chino


What's the hardest part about working on a surfboard?

For me it’s dealing with the foam mess aftermath. The foam is fine and insidious, it gets everywhere and sticks to everything. Surfboard building historically has been very toxic and left a big footprint which I always found difficult participating in. Fortunately that's starting to change.


Shaping boards led to your art career⁠—what’s your chosen medium?

I work with all types of paint but I tend to do a lot of spray paint and mixed with more traditional oil paints.

In The Responsible Flannel

Where do you draw inspiration?

I think that just day to day life and people inspire my work. Certainly the natural world and the geography of where I live. I tend to paint about finality and death a lot which seems a bit dark considering I'm a pretty upbeat individual.


How does spending time outdoors affect your career/lifestyle?

My entire life activities as well as work have been based largely on striving to not be inside. At a certain point in my career, my painting had me spending more and more time inside my studio. The last few years I found a way to take my art outside, painting murals and working on installations. To me being able to paint a mural outside is an amazing way to take what I love to do and be outside with it. I look at my career/lifestyle and I think that it's all very symbiotic, they both are so intertwined into who I am and what I'm doing/creating.


In the Brushwood Sweater and Organic Dyed Chino


As you may know, our entire mission centers around ocean pollution. As someone who lives near the shores of the great Pacific, you must be faced with the evidence of ocean pollution often. How does it affect you as a consumer and/or artist?

I see evidence of pollution all the time on the coast. Part of being human in this time in history is consumption, something that none of us can really get away from very easily. Being an artist and shaper means creating and that means a certain amount of waste as a bi-product. I'm always trying to be aware of how I can cut down on my waste with my profession as well as my day to day life. One of the easiest and straight forward marks that I can make is being aware of plastic consumption. Not using plastic straws, bags, staying away from plastic cups and being aware of packaging of products is a small thing when we're looking at an individual standpoint but makes a big dent when we look at a large population of people implementing this mindfulness.


Check out Jeremiah's work!



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