San Clemente surfboard artist Haley Russo is no stranger to making something out of nothing. With the help of her favorite music and some friends, Haley transforms dinged up, consignment surfboards into unique bohemian boards of her own. The 23-year-old creates all of her textile designs by hand with inspiration from her world travels and the people she meets along the way. Check out what Haley talked to LoveSurf about as she is currently working on her fifth board!
When did you start making art? When did you know it was something you wanted to pursue?
I started making art when I was little. I took summer classes but always got told that I was doing it wrong, especially drawing. Then in 5th grade I applied for the arts enrichment program and got denied because I couldn’t draw a “proper” teddy bear. By then I began to give up on drawing. It wasn’t until high school where I fell in love with photography and graphic design. We actually had a screen printing program and I would spend all of my free periods screen printing tee shirts and developing film. I picked up the Adobe programs pretty quickly and have been working with it ever since! Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you’re doing something the wrong way. There is no wrong answer to art–just many forms.
What inspires you?
Traveling inspires me so much! And the people I go to school with and also the people I work with are so talented and they push me to look at things in new perspectives. The environment around me really has an affect on my artwork. For example I grew up on the east coast then lived in Hawaii for a bit then San Francisco and now Southern California. I’m headed to Panama at the end of August and Africa in March! A lot of my textile designs are inspired by the places I’ve been, people I meet and the activities I do.
How did you get into surf art?
I was fixing this beaten up consignment surfboard I got in Kapaa Hawaii at Tamba Surf Shop. The bottom was pretty gnarly and painted over so I thought drawing over it would help and I ended up loving the process. Now all of my consignment boards I get a hold of I like to make my own. Each one has their own unique prior history and I like to add my own. Now I make graphics for some surf shops and now working on textile design for action sports.
What do you love about surfboard design or art in general?
I got to shape my own board last year and the process was very rewarding. There is so much physics and thought that goes into shaping. I was fortunate enough that my friend Kyle helped me out! We inlaid this epic chiffon fabric from a dress I wore to my brothers high school graduation. The idea was to recycle clothing in a new and interesting way but also telling a story within the glass– almost like a picture frame from a favorite memory.
What type of material do you use to create your designs?
I do all of my textile designs by hand. That is one of the most valuable things I have learned from school and the industry. Get away from the computer and use your hands! Some of the best prints I have made have been from collages I’ve made for fun and others are made up of glyphs from life experiences and adventures.
Do you have a specific process that goes into making each board?
I definitely aim for consignment because they are more affordable 😉 Then enlist some friends help in fixing up some dings. Put on some good music and just doodle what I feel is inspiring at that moment
How would you describe your style?
Definitely a bit grungy bohemian. I have a loose freehand but love strong geometric patterns!
How do you stay active? Favorite outdoor activities?
I surf 3-4 times a week! I try to go twice a day especially on the weekends. I love the people I surf with. They’re amazingly talented and inspiring. I play volleyball, body surf, swim, ride my bike and hike with my dog Rusty a lot! He’s just as active as I am so we make a great team Now I just need to get him a life jacket to surf with me!