Spencer Reynolds has two lifelong passions: the ocean and art. Hailing from the southern reaches of Oregon he has pursued his passions with devotion, producing a rich and powerfully energetic portfolio of work. Only a surfer could portray the ocean’s moods and vibrance in the way he does, with flair and drama – sometimes turning the ocean into a sea of flames and sometimes a spiral of symmetrical, barreling perfection.
We caught up with Spencer to talk about life, surfing and artistic inspiration.
HEY SPENCER! HOW’S YOUR DAY GOING?
It’s going great! I’m super busy running my little art business. Every year it grows bit by bit. I’m at the point now where I need to hire someone to help me with logistics so I can have more free time to make art. That person will probably be my wife, she would be the perfect match since she’s already familiar with all of it. However, she keeps getting job offers, so I have some competition.
HAD ANY GOOD WAVES LATELY?
I hardly surfed all summer. It was mostly flat where I live, and I was super busy so I couldn’t chase it. This fall there have been a few swells in my area, so I’ve had some fun. When I was a kid I’d drive long distances for a surf, now I mostly surf within 10 miles of my house. The waves aren’t always the best within that short range. What I do to make sure I get in the water is carry a wide variety of surf crafts. In my car I’ll have a longboard, shortboard, bodyboard, skimboard, alaia, and handplane. I’m a jack of all trades, mediocre at all of them, but I have a lot of fun. I’ve been surfing 31 years now, so variety keeps me happy and in the water.
WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR INSPIRATION AND HOW DO YOU STAY MOTIVATED?
The hard part for me is staying focused on things that align themselves with directions I’ve already established in my art. Music is a huge inspiration. My wife thinks that maybe I love music more than visual art. I don’t play any instruments, I should start. Disjointed music that goes many directions in one song has always fascinated me. I feel like it helps me push my art in directions I’m unfamiliar with.
I stay motivated by trying new things. Most of the time I paint with no vision of where a piece is going. If I start to get frustrated with that path, I’ll meticulously plan my next piece out. Or maybe I try new mediums like resin, encaustic, screenprinting, but mostly I’m an oil painter.
WHO ARE YOUR FAVOURITE ARTISTS BOTH IN THE SURFING WORLD AND BEYOND?
In surfing I’d say Chris Lundy, Rick Griffin, John Severson, Jim Phillips and Thomas Campbell. The list is a lot bigger than that, but I feel like keeping it short. Outside of surfing there are too many artists that inspire me. My brain will short circuit if I try to list them all. Here’s a short list in no particular order: Andy Goldsworthy, Andy Warhol, James Jean, Chuck Jones, David Weidman, J.C. Leyendecker. It’s an eclectic list, I know. I was also really inspired by friends I made at art school. I always feel like I’m playing catch up with them.
There are a lot of people that do surf art that should probably study artists outside of the genre more than in it. I understand that when you are starting out as an artist you tend to copy people that inspire you. It’s hard to watch those same people make a good living at copying the ideas of people in their same genre.
IF YOU GREW UP FAR FROM THE OCEAN AND NEVER HEARD OF SURFING WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’D BE DOING NOW?
The only experience outside of surfing that I’ve enjoyed a lot is mountain biking, or maybe some form of skiing or snowboarding. That’s a hard question, because I feel the passion that drives my life was formed as a kid going surfing. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest everything is raw, and in the early eighties the spots were mostly unexplored as far as I knew, so we operated off of adrenaline a lot as we entered unfamiliar territory.
DO YOU HAVE A MUSE?
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE ARTISTIC MEDIUM? DO YOU HAVE ANY MEDIUMS YOU WOULD LIKE TO EXPLORE MORE IN FUTURE?
I mostly use oil paints, and I paint on almost entirely on reclaimed wood. I like the idea of restoring and beautifying something old, lost in the ocean, or thrown away. In the future, I’d like to do more screen-printing and Intaglio print making.