Jef Hartsel Surf Skate Style



When did you first hear of SurfSkate style?

Well, luckily, for myself, surf/skate style was everything when I was first introduced to skateboarding. Surfing culture was very prominent in skate when I first began in ‘75. Back then, the whole aesthetics of skate reflected what was happening in the surfing world. Up until “grip tape” became regularly available, most skateboarders skated barefoot. I know I did! For those reasons, it has always kept me closer to the “surf/skate” mindset from the very beginning to this day. When I was a kid, one of the first things that I did to my first skateboard was paint a Lightning Bolt on it. Soon after, I figured out to go to the hardware store, buy sandpaper and glue it onto my board for grip and then I graduated to peeling off and stealing the “non-skid tape” that was placed on the step-ups of heavy construction machinery, or off of stair steps at school and I re-glued them onto my boards. Griptape made a world of difference. That’s when we started to wear shoes and doing more than sidewalk surf.

What does SurfSkate style mean to you?

That’s a tough one to answer. In trying to defining it, I’d probably have to say, it’s when you’re viewing the “terrain” that you’re skating as a “wave” more than a skate thing. It’s hard to describe or explain. For example, just because a skater is grabbing “tuck knee” or doing a “layback,” does that make it surf/skate style? Now try looking at it in this way. If a surfer does a “stink bug” grab-top turn, or bottom turn on a wave, wouldn’t it still be considered “surf” style? You see what I’m getting at? You can tell when a skater is using influence from “surfing” though. There’s that little extra thing going on, either just before, during, or a little after a “trick” or all of the above.  Surf/Skate style is a “feeling” just as much as it is “visual”… and what you’re feeling will show through. If you see what you’re riding as a “wave,” then it’s a “wave”. SURF SKATE IT!

Who has the best SurfSkate style?

Not in any particular order, but Scotty Oster is way up there on the list, and Kelly Jackson and Aaron Murray both have killer surf/skate style. I have to say that Mondo (Dave Beck) is the raddest “surf/skater” I’ve ever known or have witnessed surf’n on ‘crete! Mondo oozes surf style, and defines what “surf skate” style is for me. I’ve seen him hand push off the flat bottom of a half pipe before going up the wall and snapping the lip! The very first time I met him in Hawaii, he was riding a DIY 36-inch board with a “wedge” tail and the wedge was made out of surfboard foam, then fiberglassed and resined on. Mondo surfed everything that he skated! I also witnessed Jay Boy sidewalk surfing in front of my house on a little 24-inch board like I’ve never seen anyone else do before, so surfed out doing “nose spinners” and all! It’s safe to say that Jay Adams is the most iconic one when it comes to “surf/skate” style. I also have a good friend who lives here in Hawaii that is one of the gnarliest surf-skaters that I’ve ever met. His name is Ethan Lau. Bradda surfs and bombs the mountains all around the Hawaiian islands and around the world, charges hard in pools, ditches, empty dolphin tanks, anything and everything, and can make a simple kickturn look better than anyone!

How has surfing influenced skateboarding and how has skateboarding influenced surfing?

Surfing taught us about stance and how to float on land. Skating taught surfing how to fly and get airborne! They are both rad and beautiful art forms that 100% compliment each other. However anyone wants to look at it, I believe that our skate culture comes from the ocean. I’ll always choose to see skateboarding as surfing’s younger brother, like a brotherhood or brotherly love that pushes each other, yet strengthening, respecting, and loving each other at the same time.

Is SurfSkate style important today?

Well, since not everyone lives near a ocean or surfs, I think that the surfing world will continue to do its own thing, and same with the skate world. They will both continue to grow and evolve on their own as they have. However, a person that does both might be able to create opportunities for themselves that a surf-only or a skate-only purist couldn’t or wouldn’t. There is no denying the fact that the skaters who also surf, or grew up surfing first, all seem to have a very natural and beautiful style. Chris Miller comes to mind just saying that, including other rippers like Dylan Rieder. I really miss him! All of the Fletchers: Herbie, Christian, Nathan, Greyson; the Florence Ohana: John John, Nathan, Ivan and mom; Alexandra, Steve Olson, Duane Peters, Keith Meek, Aaron Murray, Scott Oster, Natas Kaupas, Jesse Martinez, Jason Jessee, Chris Senn, Omar Hassan and Mark Partain all do both! Then there are even younger guys like Curren Caples, Evan Mock, Heimana Reynolds and Kalani David. Then you have skateboarders who got into surfing afterwards like Bo Ikeda and Elissa Steamer, including myself. Now even Mark Gonzales is surfing! I’ll always remember taking the Gonz out surfing in Waikiki during the ‘90s and pushing him into a grip of waves and watching him riding towards the shoreline. Priceless moments! And one last thing. Being that I rode for Alva Skates in the ‘80s, whenever peeps ask me about TA, I often tell ‘em that one of the raddest things about Alva was, no matter what you’ve heard about him, TA skated or surfed or did both, every single day! I always thought that was super rad because TA has always been like that ever since his youth. He lives for it and lives it! Some of the raddest humans that I know do both. Give it a try and I bet you’ll understand why they do. All Hail Larry Bertlemann and Buttons Kaluhiokalani!

Okinawa, Jersey Shore, Venice Beach, Hawaii… Jef Hartsel has surfed and skated it all! here he puts down a snappy grinder with gnarler style, while Hosoi, Dressen and Swope look on. Photo © Hartsel Archives


The influence of surfing on skateboarding has been discussed since the beginning of both, yet we have now entered a new era, where skateboarding has returned the favor with its own unique influence on the surfing world. In order to get to the core of this cross over and to try to define the origins and current state and status of surf skate style, we’ve interviewed some of the most innovative skateboarders, surfers, artists, documentarians, photographers, filmmakers and musicians on the planet. In honor of the great, Shogo Kubo, who once said, “To me, style is everything…” welcome to our exploration of Surf Skate Style featuring interviews with Aaron Murray, Aaron Astorga, Abraham Paskowitz, Art Brewer, Bennett Harada, Brad Bowman, Brandon Cruz, Brian Brannon, Carter Slade, Chris Miller, Chris Strople, Christian Fletcher, Christian Hosoi, Craig Stecyk III, Darren Ho, Dave Tourje, David Hackett, Dennis Martinez, Dibi Fletcher, Don Redondo, Eric Britton, Garrett McNamara, Gerry Lopez, Glen E. Friedman, Greg Falk, Greg Galbraith, Greyson Fletcher, Herbie Fletcher, James O’Mahoney, Jef Hartsel, Jeff Ament, Jeff Divine, Jeff Ho, Jim Fitzpatrick, Jim Gray, John Van Hamersveld, Jonathan Paskowitz, Josh “Bagel” Klassman, Kalani David, Keith Morris, Kirra Kehoe, Larry Bertlemann, Laura Thornhill, Lizzie Armanto, Marc Emond, Michael Denicola, Michael Early, Nano Nobrega, Nathan Fletcher, Nathan Florence, Neil Stratton, Norton Wisdom, Pat Bareis, Randy Katen, Ray Flores, Rob Nelson, Robert Trujillo, Scott Oster, Shane Allen, Shaun Tomson, Shota Kubo, Solo Scott, Stacy Peralta, Steve Alba, Steve Olson, Takuji Masuda, Terry Nails, Tim Curran, Tim Hendricks, Tim Kerr, Tom Groholski, Tony Alva, Wes Humpston and Zach Miller.


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