Artist Interview: Driftwood Collective

At the core of Driftwood Collective is Pedro Vieira and Márcio Oliveira, two dudes from Figueira da Foz, Portugal (a small costal town with some good surf going on). Pedro works mainly on everything graphic (illustrations, editing, etc..) and Márcio is in charge of the image section (photography, camera work). Both share the same passion for arts and crafts which is more and more becoming the kernel of Driftwood production. They now have ventured into more of a DIY lifestyle by shaping surfboards, skateboards, and all sorts of other creative endeavors.

How did the Driftwood Collective get started?

The spark of the DwC fire was a stormy December with little or no surf. Tired of killing time watching Knost and Tudor surfing Malibu and undoubtedly inspired by the work of a few creative minds out in the U.S. and Australia, such as the Critical Slide Society and the Beautiful Losers (to state but a few), we decided to get to work.

At first, we were producing mainly visual content – which will keep on anchoring DwC’s work – but soon afterwards a whole new world open up before us. The day we built our first skateboard did the trick.

Who is involved at this point? And what are your roles?

The guys that really get it moving are Pedro Vieira, controlling everything design related; Marcio Oliveira, holding the camera; and Henrique Simões making sure we all keep it green. When it comes to crafting we all contribute here and there.

Being a collective, we welcome like-minded, talented and inspired people to contribute to the creative process, thus allowing knowledge and awe to flow freely amongst those involved, among them:

Carlos Azevedo, (aka “Barbas”) The most talented artist from us all.

Xico Zé, is the most talented surfer among us. He contribute mainly with… well… good old school log surfing! and that’s good enough for us.

Gustavo S Costa, is a shaper that is exploring on some innovative designs without loosing grip of the californian tradition he got in touch with when living in San Diego.

What are the various avenues of creativity that you guys are exploring?

Everything we can build with our own hands. From shaping our boards to brewing our beer!

At the moment, sitting in the workshop, we got a pile of old skateboards waiting to come back to life alongside with some old bicycles we’ll turn into fixies. At the same time a pair of broken longboards that are facing a corner will rebirth as mini-simmons. We’re always dumpster diving for inspiration.

Complementing the hand crafting process, we keep on producing all kinds of visual material from illustration to video. In fact, we’re trying to have a short film ready for this year’s surf film festivals like SAL, debuting this summer in Lisbon.

Pedro explained that DC started over a year ago with some loose material but you have really begun to take it seriously in the past few months. What made you guys decide to step up and take this thing seriously?

Joy. Waking up every morning with the same excitement as if there was a perfect swell coming in. We’ve found little things in life as rewarding as the crafting process and that’s probably the reason why we love handcrafted objects so much… the pleasure involved in its making is almost palpable, making them sensual and soulful.

It may sound paradoxical, but if it’s possible to have this much fun while working… then you might as well start taking it seriously!

How do you see the Driftwood Collective evolving over time?

We’re in the process of defining the terms in witch it can become economically viable so that we can afford to work exclusively in it while maintaining it fresh and exploratory.

We’re hopeful to have a small on-line store running before the end of the year. In the long term, we are aiming at opening a workshop cafe where more than just selling a finished product we would open the doors to the creative process, and provide a meeting point for all to come together, craft and grow.

Tell us a little about your small coastal town in Portugal and what the surf culture is like in Portugal at the moment.

Surf has been growing exponentially in Portugal over the past decade… Surf Culture on the other hand – or at least what we understand by surf culture – is only starting to flourish.

It’s fun to see that for the first time in Portugal we’ll have two surf film festivals taking place this summer, curiously enough, both of them clearly emphasize their artistic approach on the subject.

These are clear signs that things are starting to change… but then again, this is noticeable only in the big cities – Lisbon and Porto. In our small coastal town, everything keeps its usual course… at least Europe’s longest right – Buarcos – that we’re so proud to host does!

How does the style of the Driftwood Collective fit into the surf scene in Portugal? Are you guys looked at as outcasts or embraced?

Neither one nor the other. Portuguese are very reluctant in taking a strong stance towards something, unless they feel threatened… We would say we’re looked complacently by the awkwardness of it all: “Why are you still walking forth and back on heavy single fin logs while every one else is trying to fly?”

Of course that there are a few militants of the classic surfing tradition that do embrace us but in most of the cases, the best we manage is to trigger curiosity.

For as long as feedback keeps on rolling in, everything will be most definitely worthwhile!

Check out the Driftwood Collective at http://driftwoodcollective.org/

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