We recently caught up with designers and ITAL/C creative directors, Matt Titone and Ron Thompson, to find out what inspires their artwork and t-shirt designs, available now at the Surfrider shop. Get your shirts and support the ocean, waves and beaches at: shop.surfrider.org!
Q: What initially motivated and drew you into design?
Matt: I have always been obsessed with art since I was a little kid. I’ve always loved to draw and paint, and then I got into photography in high school. As I got older and more interested in stuff like magazines and t-shirts for their design and graphics – then surf, skate and snowboard brand logos, art and graphics – I started to see there was a viable career path for commercial art and graphic design. So that’s what I decided to major in while at college and here I am now, still doing what I love.
Ron: My mom taught art when I was growing up and I think that always stuck with me. As I got older and started to realize what real music was, I became super attracted to the album covers. They were like mini art pieces that you could afford. The other thing that makes design so powerful is its ability to stir emotion in people. That’s a big draw for me.
Q: What inspiration does your design work draw from our ocean, waves, and beaches?
Matt: It depends on the project of course, but as someone who spends a lot of time in the ocean, it’s hard not to be inspired by it in some way. The rich color palettes of our coastlines, no matter where and what season, are always something to draw inspiration from.
Ron: If a project taps into some element of ocean, waves, or beaches, then there's inspiration.
Q: What does the ocean mean to you and why should it be protected?
Matt: The oceans cover 71% of the Earth’s surface and contain 97% of the Earth’s water. Water is our most precious resource, so to me it seems obvious why it needs to be protected. On a more personal level, I live at the beach and surf almost every day. I want that to always be a natural and healthy part of my life. I don’t want to see my beautiful local beaches covered in trash, I don’t want to get sick from surfing polluted waters, and I want the fish I eat to be healthy and safe.
Ron: The ocean is teeming with life and covers the majority of earth, so it only makes sense that we protect it and care for it. Because the world’s oceans regulate so much of our climate, what happens to the oceans directly affects the rest of the world.
Q: What is one life experience that has resonated for you and really made a difference in your life or your design work?
Matt: I can’t really pin point one single life experience... It’s really a combination of life circumstances, hardships overcome, travels – just experiencing as many different people, places, foods and activities as possible that all together makes a difference. Getting out of your comfort zone is crucial. Starting ITAL/C with Ron has probably been the biggest turning point for me in my design work though. It was a hard thing to do, but it has been the most rewarding career decision and has truly opened the door for us to have creative freedom in so many ways.
Ron: I can’t say I have one life experience that has made a difference. It’s more of a collection of little things that influence my design. Traveling, moving to different cities, not being scared of taking a risk with work or starting a studio, having great friends and an amazing family, music – so many things all play into who I am and thus how I approach design.
Q: Why do you feel it's important to support the Surfrider Foundation and our mission?
Matt: Surfrider has always done a great job of uniting surfers all around the world for one common cause that we can all get behind. They are our boots on the ground fighting for the health and preservation of our beaches and waves. In a world without Surfrider, we’d all be getting sick from surfing our local (and foreign) breaks, the beaches would be covered in way more trash and a lot of our favorite surf breaks would probably not even exist anymore. If you are a surfer, you have a responsibility to give back to mother nature, who allows you to do what you love – Surfrider gives you that opportunity to give back.
Ron: Whether you surf or not, it’s important to be good stewards of the oceans, lakes, rivers, and ANY body of water because we can not live without water – and clean water to boot! Supporting Surfrider means you are supporting our ecosystem, what could be more rewarding?!