Forces of Nature 001: Noa Emberson

A (distanced) conversation with the designer, illustrator and surfer at his home in Manoa, Hawaii.

01. CONNECTION - How do you connect to nature? What was a specific moment that reminded you that you are part of the natural world?

Every time I surf I feel that connection, which is one of the main reasons I do it as much as I do. I had a pretty magical moment this morning while surfing actually. I woke up early hoping to avoid the crowds and winds that ramp up as the day goes on. The conditions and waves were fun enough at first, but off in the distance you could see a little storm starting to blow in our direction. It was beautiful, with the dark gray clouds dumping out streams of rain, and with the sun peaking through it gave it a beautiful orange glow. Soon enough, the storm rolled through, pouring rain and blowing gusts, which was not ideal for what little surf was out there. We decided to wait it out and thankfully, a few minutes later, it passed leaving rainbows and sheet glass waves behind for us to enjoy. It’s such a simple moment that can happen while surfing here in Hawaii yet something I never want to take for granted.



02. BALANCE - You put so many different things out into the world- design, illustration, art direction, and music. How do you find balance between the multitude of things that you do? Is there a universal theme underneath it all?

When I can, I try to do a “one for them, one for me” model with my projects. I think I heard about that concept from George Clooney and how he chooses to take on roles. He’ll alternate between big budget films that will pay well and smaller roles that will leave him creatively satisfied. Anyway, I try to balance the commercial stuff (design, art direction) with the personal passion projects (art, illustration, playlist curation, etc). One keeps the lights on while the other keeps my heart full. You need both.



03. TRADITION + ROUTINE - What is a tradition you honor from your heritage? What is a new habit you're just starting, or sticking with this month?

Surfing

My dad was an avid surfer in his younger days and he taught me the basics when we were living on the Big Island. It was hard to keep up with it over there but later in life, after moving to Maui for high school, I picked it back up and haven’t stopped since.

Creative expression

My mom is an artist so growing up I’d watch her paint and make sculptures. I’ve always appreciated her bold use of color. Watching her produce her artwork inspired me to do what I do today.

Growing my first beard

I figured while we’re in quarantine, why not. I’ve never tried to properly do it so I’m giving it a go. The results have been itchy and patchy so far but I’m going to give it a bit more time to see if it fills out a little better. To be continued.



04. CHALLENGE - What's challenging you right now? How are you rising to meet the challenge?

Animation

Lately I’ve been getting involved with some motion design projects that required a fair amount of character animation. Man, that’s challenging. It’s one thing to get a static image looking good and it’s something else to get an animation looking good. It’s been a huge challenge and it’s a skill I look forward to developing further.

Screen printing

Have a setup now that allows me to screen print entirely from my home studio. It took some doing to get everything in place and now that it’s up and running I look forward to honing my craft.



05. MOTIVATE - What gets you moving everyday? Is it physical exercise, creative expression, social engagement? Tell us about your chosen method of being active.

New road bike

I just bought a road bike which I’m super excited to jam around on. I’m only a few days in but I’m really enjoying it so far and I think it’s going to be a great addition to my fitness routine.

Surfing

This is probably my main way that I stay socially engaged, especially right now. Social distancing is built in so it doesn’t matter how many friends you see out in the lineup.

Creative expression

I love what I do and I can’t believe I get paid to do it. But my personal projects like the Aloha Friday series, that I do for myself, are what keep me motivated and coming back for more.

06. CULTURE - What creative media are front of mind for you right now? What’s one work you’d share from your reading list, Netflix queue, etc.?

Creative media

The iPad plus iPencil combo

Streaming queue

Just finished The End of the F**king world season two which I thought was incredible. The soundtrack is insane as well.

Books

Just started reading Dune which I’ve been meaning to read for years now.

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