INTRODUCING THE OTIS CAREY COLLECTION
Fusing contemporary Indigenous art with a unique and innovative approach to wave-riding, Otis Carey consistently astounds those around him, be it on a surfboard or painting a canvas.
His new FCS signature collection features a new Twin + 1 set and one-piece traction pad, both featuring his Indigenous artwork which is inspired by a deep connection to his culture.
FCS caught up with world-renowned Indigenous artist and surfer Otis Carey on the eve of his first signature series dropping into stores to talk about surfing, his artwork and how the synergies between the two culminated in his new fin and traction.
“The artwork on the pad and the fin… it’s my interpretation of tides and how a full moon high tide goes right up the river” - Otis Carey
An obvious question, but can you tell us a little bit about the artwork that you've done on the traction and fin?
The artwork on the pad and the fin, is my interpretation of tides and how a full moon / high tide goes right up the river. So you've got the different high tide, low tide in the artwork. It's basically a contemporary form of indigenous art.
What was the reason for doing it on this signature line as opposed to some of your other work?
I just wanted to do something different for this signature line. I felt like just two simple colours - black and yellow - worked well together. And being on the inside of the fin, I thought it worked really well.
Do you think your surfing and your artwork complement each other and do you think your surfing influences your artwork or vice versa?
I used to think that surfing and art were two totally different things, but as I started to understand myself through surfing and through art, I’d say they definitely go hand-in-hand. For instance, the way that I move on a wave is the same way I move a brush on a canvas, so I think they definitely coexist together in a very organic way.
Talk to us a little bit about some of your influences with your artwork.
I think, for the most part, a lot of the influence I take is from my spiritual connection to my culture. And two, the elements that we're surrounded by, the wind, the water, fire, the earth, it's all giving off an energy that I try and tap into. I find that as my biggest inspiration.
Speaking of energy, do you sometimes feel like you put your emotion into your artwork and the way you surf a wave? For example, if you're angry, you surf angrier, or if you're happy…
For me, surfing does the opposite. If I've had a really s**t day and I'm frustrated, I'll go out and I'll just cruise. If I've had a really cruisy day, I'll go out and try and bring that anger up to try and push my surfing a bit more. It's the opposite.
Can you describe the first time you ever picked up a brush or a pen or just drew in a notebook and the feeling you had from doing that?
I think, for the most part, I started painting because it was a form of mental health release. For me, painting really helped me understand my emotions, why I would turn or dip into a dark state of mind and feel depressed. I think for the most part, I started just to have another outlet of expression. Instead of being angry at the world, I turn to art to help me see the beautiful things that surround me and that I have that I can appreciate.
Do you remember how old you were or what your life was like at that certain point in time?
I think I started painting in 2014. Maybe seven years ago. Is it seven years? I'm bad at maths (laughs).
I don't know. Nearly 10. There you go. My maths is terrible (laughs).
Were there moments in your life that compelled you to pick up the brush?
I think I've always had a really creative mind. I've always had visions of patterns, and I really wanted to translate that into something that was physical instead of mental. It all happened pretty organically and really easily, so I just... Once I started, I couldn't stop.
I remember a Victorian Pro Junior in 2006 or 2007 and you were doing airs down the beach at Jan Juc, when everyone else was trying to do three to the beach. Would you say you always had an individual and a bit of a creative approach?
Yeah. I started doing airs in comps, probably before anyone really. You'd go out and do a full rotor and they'd give you a four. These days you do that, you get a seven or an eight or a nine. I think I've always done things backwards, and it's only just started working for me in my life in the last few years. It's nice that it's turned out that way.
Obviously, you're getting so much acclaim for what you're doing ,not just your surfing but your artwork as well, and having the two dovetail in together, how does it make you feel?
It feels great to have the notoriety in regards to my art. I do sacrifice a lot of time away from my family when I paint. Some paintings take weeks and weeks, so it's long hours and you do miss out on some things. But at the end of the day, to have that notoriety around what I'm doing, does make it worth it.
When you were that grom that was doing air reverses at Jan Juc, did you ever think your life would take this turn?
It's funny. I always knew that I'd be very successful in something. I didn't know what that was, but I always knew it had something to do with the ocean. I always felt that pull to the ocean, and when I leaned into that feeling and felt into what it was, I always knew it was going to be something powerful and positive.
Who do you get the most joy out of inspiring these days? Is it the youth that are out surfing? Or is it your local community and people up and down the east coast of Australia?
I think the most joy that I get from the inspiration that I give to others is, the fact that I can share my culture and share stories and create a safe and positive space for people to ask questions about my culture and learn. For the most part, it makes me really happy that I can create those spaces for everyone to learn from each other, 'cause at the end of the day, we're all learning from each other, so to create those safe spaces to learn is something I'm really proud of.
Growing up, were you always pretty tied to your culture and your connection to learn?
Yeah, I've always been very aware of my culture and always inquisitive about learning more. I'm very proud of that. I'm always learning, there's always so much to learn.
Talk to us about why you chose a one-piece traction pad and a Power Twin with a stabiliser.
I've always loved just the one-piece pads. Trying to stick on those three-piece pads or the two-piece pads, I could never get it right (laughs). I don't know why. I just love a one-piece. I really love this pad and it feels good under my back foot. I'm really proud of it.
Do you think there’s a bit of a difference to everything else that's out there in the market at the moment?
I think the colorway that we've chosen, and the fact that it's a one-piece, is definitely going to stand out from all the other pads, which is cool.
Talk a bit about the twin fin. It obviously complements your surfing quite well. What compelled you to have one of those as your signature fin?
I was riding the twins for quite a while, and Rich Lovett at FCS had been hinting at me to ride a 2+1 hybrid. I was like, "All right, send me what you think I'll love." He sent it and I just loved it. Then it just transformed from there and we ended up with this 2+1, which I absolutely love. I never thought I'd not want to ever get off riding a 2+1 or a twinnie. I guess for the most part too, I learned to surf on a twin fin, so I think my origins of surfing organically just leans towards feeling comfortable on a twinnie anyway.
OTIS CAREY COLLECTION
FCS II Otis Carey Twin + 1 Fin Set
Versatile twin template featuring Otis Carey Indigenous artwork. Use with or without a trailer.
Otis Carey Eco Traction
Eco 1 piece traction featuring Otis Carey’s Indigenous artwork, also seen on his signature twin +1. Click Here To Get Free Express Shipping