Words by Anthony Thomas
New York and surfing; two things you probably don’t discern an immediate association between. Surfing inAustralia conjures visions of the endless expanses of sand, places like Bells Beach and Sydney’s Northern Beaches not New York’s concrete corridors of cultural activity.
But the geography doesn’t lie. Though David Yun, one of WAX Magazine’s three creative directors, admits that the swell is not always ideal. “People fetishize surfing, because waves don’t come everyday often time you find yourself talking about and obsessing over it”.
Conceived on a beach as David and his wife, Ariel, reflected on the wealth of creativity they had encountered through their common interest in the ocean, the magazine’s concept is simple. “We thought it would be cool to create a conversation about creativity and surfing, instead of relying on the waves.”
It’s important to make the distinction between WAX and your typical surf magazine clear. WAX is not a glossy, full of Kelly Slater and Carissa Moore profiles. It is however an outlet for surfers, who for reasons out of their control are unable to surf, to channel their passions through creativity.
As David puts it, “WAX is an avenue for us as surfers to pursue things that fascinate us, while connecting it back to surfing. We’re not interested in paintings of people surfing or surfy-style artwork. We’re interested in concept driven art that creates metaphors from the natural experience of surfing. We’re interested in highlighting parts of our obsession through a cross-section with art”.
As the idea gained momentum, David and Ariel approached a neighbour to become involved. Now lined with boxes of magazines and surfboards, their shared living space blurs the lines of home, work and passion. WAXis not capturing surf ideals through the farcical lens of a hobbyist, much the opposite.
“It’s a way for us to interpret, reinterpret and draw inspiration from water. That’s one of the main fascinations with surfers, the transformations that occurs when you immerse yourself in the water, letting the energy of the wave overpower you.”
Unsurprisingly every touch point, from the magazine’s artwork to its editorial to its design, is awash with liquidity. By bringing together New York’s surfing community, WAX is building a window that gives a unique snapshot of group of people who aren’t always fully understood.
Something David puts it down to perspective. “If we were from the West Coast or we lived on a beach inMexico, the way we would be thinking about water would be completely different. The lack of waves contributes to the general perspective we have.”
Concepts aside, WAX’s physicality makes producing it a labour of love. To go to print in the digital age is a decision with significant economic commitment, something David admits but isn’t fazed by. “WAX has always been engaging our interests, it’s never been about sustaining us financially. We want to keep it pure in its execution and the content undiluted.”
A stance, David says, will also be taken into the digital iteration of WAX, currently in development. It would be a mistake to assume that simply means intangible access to the magazine’s print content. No, sir. WAX plan to create an environment tailored specifically for video and digital content to exist for readers to interact with.
WAX is a conversation, whether it be through words, photo essays or visual arts, and the result is a modern-day artefact of both the waves and the humans who ride them. If ever there was a case of passion driving creativity, WAX is it. And David is enthusiastic about the future. “It’s an exciting time and it’s nice being a part of a community using their creativity in whatever they’re doing.”
Published online in PITCH.