Individuals of all economic strata are shedding their jobs, hometowns, and lifestyle to embrace a wider experience and a more meaningful existence.
Kassia Meador is a California born and raised professional surfing champion who is one of the most recognizable women longboarders. She is well known for her smooth, stylish riding and high energy personality. She grew up in the San Fernando Valley so she didn’t really grow up by the beach. Meador did not start surfing until she was 14 or 15 years old. Prior to surfing she did skateboarding and snowboarding – just doing what all the kids do that live in the Valley. But once she started surfing she would do anything she could just to get down to the beach. At first she started going to C Street in Ventura, County Line, Malibu, and Leo Carillo. It was first at Malibu that anyone took a photo of her surfing and her first photo ended up being published in Longboard Magazine. She was riding this old board with a single-fin, wearing a ripped up wetsuit which belonged to her boyfriend at the time. Meador was just pumped with surfing every day and never realized that first photo would lead her to where she is today. She describes her feelings standing on a surfboard in the beginning:
"I remember my first green wave, when I stood up on a real wave and not just whitewater. I can remember seeing the sand through the clear water and it was like I was flying! Even thinking of it now, I still get that fluttering feeling in my heart about it..."
Growing up at Malibu and surfing there, Kassia was able to see some of the best surfers in the world. She is a very visual person, the reason she is into photography and enjoys films, and watching the talent of the surfers at Malibu taught her a great deal - and from Malibu the rest is history.
When asked whether she is still riding Donald Takayama’s boards Meador said:
"Jeff Hakman and Donald saw me surfing out at Tea Tree in Australia, and Donald turned to Jeff and said 'You put her on Roxy – can you put her on my boards?' I'm totally still riding his boards. Right now, I am really into my 9'4" Takayama Model T. We have been working on a refined Model T for a bit now and finally got it right. I love that board and how it glides. Just like Roxy, Donald has been so supportive of me. He has been a huge mentor for me. With my surfing and with my life – he is like my grandpa. It has been a combination of Roxy and Donald that have taken me to where my life is right now."
Sadly on October 22 2012 the iconic surfboard shaper Donald Takayama died of a heart attack. He was 68 years old. Born in 1943, Takayama hailed from Waikiki, Hawaii, and rose to competitive acclaim in the 1960s, finishing runner-up in the United States Surfboard Championships in 1966 and 1967. Besides competitive successes, he also enjoyed time in the spotlight of early surf cinema, appearing in Surf Crazy in 1959, Bruce Brown's seminal Barefoot Adventure in 1960. He continued appearing in films throughout the years, most notably in Thomas Campbell's 1999 work, The Seedling. When Takayama was 12 years old he saved money from a paper route in Hawaii, bought a ticket to Los Angeles and started shaping for Velzy/Jacobs Surfboards. He served as a stint at Weber Surfboards, eventually starting his own surfboard label, Hawaiian Pro Designs.
Takayama's career as a surfboard shaper reached its zenith in the 1990s as longboarding made its resurgence. Teaming up with former world longboard champion and emcee of style Joel Tudor, his boards were seen and sought after around the planet. In the small microcosm of fanatical surfboard collectors and purveyors his shapes are some of the most prized.
"He was universally loved and respected - a sweet, sweet man who was Hawaiian-style, generous to a fault, giving to those he felt worthy, and, finally, a teacher - the highest attainment of the human condition," said longtime friend and fellow surfer Steve Pezman, publisher of The Surfer's Journal.
Meador has been with Roxy since she was 17 years old. They picked her up two years after she started surfing and have been supporting her ever since.
"There was a time when not too many people were longboarding and everybody was riding crazy tri-fins and doing airs. Roxy has really supported everything I’ve done. They started doing women’s longboard contests just to support the movement. They’ve supported me with my surfing, my photography, and my art. They’ve given me a signature wetsuit and even a clothing line."
For her entry into apparel design, the pro surfer, TV commentator, and photographer wanted to create a beach-to-street collection that was what she describes as being “comfy, creative, and rad.” In collaboration with Roxy, Meador’s collection of wetsuits, t-shirts, sweatshirts, and more, embody the adventurous nature of the sport, and feature some of the surf champ’s personal photos and quotes.
"My main inspirations come from living," says Meador. "My friends, the places we go, how we live for the sea, and the creativity that jumps out at us along the way."
Known for her high energy personality, elegance and grace in and out of the water, Kassia has included her artsy skills from the longboard into techniques for her own unique photography. In the past her photos have been displayed around the world at showings such as the Green Room Art Festival in Japan and as part of the Dear & Yonder movie tour. In recognition of Kassia’s photography, Roxy and Tribeca Grand Hotel hosted an opening cocktail reception on Tuesday, September 1st featuring live musical entertainment. In the first solo photography installation from this California native and Roxy professional surfer are images taken over the last year, while traveling to Australia, Morocco, Indonesia and during her home breaks in Southern California, Instamatic, the title of the installation, explores Kassia’s love affair with the ocean. The photos, all instant Polaroids, offer the viewer an intimate look into Kassia’s nomadic life as it captures her footprints across the globe. In an interview with Liquid Salt Magazine Meador talked about her photography:
"I am really into photos and photo-based things. I have always traveled through surfing and I have always looked at surfing as a very visual thing and something I really like. I’m very lucky to travel to many visually stimulating places and to be around a lot of creative people. Through my travels, I have always been shooting images and through this I guess I have developed my own unique way of seeing."
"I was showing Thomas Campbell some of my images a few years ago and he said, 'These are pretty cool and you should show these.' It was Thomas who helped edit my work and show my photography at my first ever show in Japan. As a filmmaker, photographer and surfer, Thomas is such an inspiration to me. I am lucky to have people like him that mentor me and can be someone I can look up to."
"What I am looking for when I shoot images is for something that pleases me. It is kind of like you know it when you see it. It could be the way that different things might come together or the way that they are placed. If something appeals to me aesthetically, I'll take a shot of it. I might have a scene in mind and I will do what it takes to make it happen. There is just a certain feeling that I get when shooting images – just like the feeling I have when getting a wave. Like knowing when to do a turn or a nose ride. It is just paying attention to everything that is around."
Artist Richard Phillips' First Point isn't your typical modern surf movie. Instead it is a 1960s style short that is scored by Thomas Bangalter, half of the twice Grammy winning Daft Punk as well as having wildchild celebrity Lindsay Lohan starring in it. The film premiered at the Swiss Art Basel Festival and showcased again at the New York Gagosian Gallery. Though Lohan is the star of the film, it is pro longboard surfer Kassia Meador who actually does all the surfing in the movie. In an interview with ESPN Meador spoke about being Lohan's surf double and her take on the surf film.
"I have an art dealer friend that knew Richard Phillips from some of his shows. She's surfed with me since I was a kid, so when Richard needed someone she immediately asked me if I was available. The next day I was filming at Malibu's Surfrider Beach."Meador went on to say "I am always interested in projects like this, and that's why I jumped at this opportunity. I enjoy collaborating with people who I think have wonderful vision, and I hope to continue doing so. I've also loved working on projects that are a little bit different than the norm and this film couldn't have been more perfect."
As to working with Lindsay Lohan Kassia stated: "Beforehand, I didn't know what to expect. I don't know anything about pop culture, nor do I watch TV, and had only heard things about Lindsay that had trickled down through the grapevine. Once we got out there, though, I was totally stoked on her positive vibes. She was really interested in surfing, so I gave her a few pointers. By the end of the day, she was able to get up for a couple.
For the past 9 years Kassia has been traveling the world as a pro surfer and popular Roxy swimsuit model. Known for her sexy smile, charm, and ever-present laughter, her visibility and reputation within the surf industry has allowed her the opportunity to become a mainstream media spokeswoman for female athletes. Kassia has been featured in magazines such as Seventeen, Vogue, Rolling Stone, Allure, and Paper, and is fast becoming an established television personality thanks to network spots on MTV, ABC, Fox Sports Net, and Fuel TV. When Kassia is not chasing waves she is with her dog, working out, or planning her next project.
Journey to the Canary Islands, a terraqueous volcanic chain off the coast of Africa, check out the latest winter action at California's classic point break, Rincon and experience the renaissance of surfing in Waikiki. Kassie Meador can be seen surfing in this film.Buy or Rent DVD
Yabanci is a book by a Dutch woman who moved from Holland to Turkey to start a new life in a Turkish village overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. A great read for those who are considering a move abroad or have lived in a different culture. Available in English as an ebook or in Dutch in both print and popular ebook formats...
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