We awoke to a perfect Sunday in Jeffreys Bay, a surfer’s wet dream. The sun edged over the horizon, lighting the most beautiful scene. Crisp clean waves rolled down the point, a gentle wind kissing them on their way. We paddled out, caught a few waves and had a laugh. This is the surfing way.
Further up the point, the final day of the the J-Bay Open had begun . Today, a king would be crowned. Last year, Mick Fanning dominated J-Bay in what I call epistellar surf, an event that will be remembered for a long time. This year, the King of J-Bay was back to defend his title, to dominate once more.
We watched a heat you don’t get to see everyday, or ever, if you live in South Africa. Mick Fanning, Kelly Slater and Gabriel Medina, clashing horns for a guaranteed spot in the quarter finals. What made this particular heat special, for me at least, was watching Kelly Slater surf in front of my eyes for the very first time. It was surreal. Just to watch and photograph him drawing lines at J-Bay put a smile on my face. That was my highlight of this year’s event.
Ocean Kings Clash
Sitting in the surf on that Sunday was just magical. The vibe was good, we were sharing waves, literally having a blast on one of the best waves in the world. What a pleasure! Somewhere out to sea, a Great White, the King of the Deep, was going about its business, slowly making its way to the speed lines at J-Bay.
For any surfer, a shark, whatever species it may be, is ever present, whether it be in the back of your mind or lurking beneath you when you stroke into your next wave. It’s there when you paddle into the ocean and it’s there when you dream.
When Mick Fanning and Julian Wilson paddled out at Supertubes on Sunday, a shark was present. A mighty clash of ocean kings ensued and so the King of J-Bay was crowned.
Meet Steve Erwin! Now I know what you thinking. Steve Erwin, the crocodile hunter? No, Steve Erwin, the surfer, the legend. As the fires of industry burned on in Johannesburg, a young soul stirred. Having tasted the fruit the ocean bears, the waves beckoned him closer, and closer. Steve discovered surfing, and this jewel of a find has not only made Steve who he is today but has also led to the creation of some pretty cool surf art and shirt designs. Steve’s a talented man and I wanted to find out more about what he does and how he spreads his paint.
[GL] So Steve, tell us a bit about yourself? What’s your deal?
[SE] I’m an entrepreneur living in Cape Town and have been working as a freelance graphic and interior designer. For the past two years I have also been working on my own clothing label called Stencilworx. I was born and bred in Johannesburg but decided that the big land-locked city was not on my vibe. Having discovered surfing while living in Joburg, I decided that Cape Town was where I wanted to live and I have been in Cape Town for four years already.
[GL] That’s a brave move Steve. Please tell us more about Stencilworx?
[SE] As a promising illustrator and designer, I created graphics to print onto shirts but soon discovered that screen printing was not a viable option for me. After experimenting with different printing techniques, I discovered that hand-cut stencils solved a lot of printing problems. This developed into what is now known as the Stencilworx brand, which utilises stencils as the main focus for printing.
[GL] What makes Stencilworx unique?
[SE] The stencils are hand-cut and the clothing is hand-printed, offering limited runs and a customer-specific product. Each product has a personalised touch and no two items are ever the same and every item is unique.
[GL] What other techniques do you use and what other art do you create?
[SE] I experiment with pencil and ink drawings combined with water colour and computer rendering to produce my artwork. I also experiment with various other illustrations and paintings but I pretty much draw, paint and print whatever inspires me at a particular time.
[GL]On the subject of inspiration, where do you draw your inspiration from to create your art?
[SE] Much of my inspiration comes from surfing and surf culture, but also from life, experiences, books and watching too much WWE (laughs).
[GL] Interesting, but how did you get into surfing?
[SE] I was driving home from university one day and came across a pawn shop in Troyeville, Johannesburg, that was selling a surfboard for R30. It was an ancient 6’6 Andrew Carter, not much of a surfboard, more like a plank, but I couldn’t resist buying it. I learnt to surf in Kasouga in the Eastern Cape and as many of my friends caught onto surfing, surf trips became a ritual at every opportunity that presented itself. Seven-years later, I live in Cape Town and I’m a surf instructor at the Surf Shack in Muizenberg, so surfing has been part of my life ever since.
[GL] That’ a great story Steve, I can relate, because I learnt to surf with you and we went on many surf trips together. But tell us, where have you surfed and what is your favorite wave in South Africa?
[SE] My surfing adventures have taken me to Durban, the South Coast, the Wild Coast (Transkei), Port Alfred in the Eastern Cape, the Southern Cape, the Cape Peninsula and the West Coast. Of all these places, as a goofy footer with a appetite for crayfish and sleeping in a tent, I would have to say that Elands Bay is the place that holds fond memories for me. However, I enjoy surfing in Muizenberg too and I love it for its own reasons.
[GL] Nice. What surfboards are you riding at the moment?
[SE] I am currently riding a 6’4 thruster but also ride a 7’6 mini-mal from time to time. I also have a 6’6 thruster that I use regularly as well as a old-school Mike Larmont single fin that I use for special occasions.
[GL] And now for the most important question of all, I’ve left the best for last, do you have a girlfriend?
[SE] (Laughs) No, I am currently single but I am willing to entertain any ladies who are intrigued by this interview.
[GL] Well I hope that works out for you Steve and wish you all the best in everything you do, I look forward to surfing with you again…(laughs).
[SE] Thanks for your interest in my endeavors and hope to see you in the water soon, ciao.
If you are interested in Stencilworx, visit www.stencilworx.co.za and if you want to place a very special order, e-mail Steve on email@example.com. Ladies, this hunk of a man is up for grabs so if you want to speak to Steve directly and book a date with him, you can contact him on +27 084 762 7803 (laughs). As an alternative, you can also find Stencilworx on Facebook.