Show Us Your Quiver – Kim Cogan
“Most people who want to talk to me want to talk about my art. I don’t even think many people realize that I surf.”
That’s how my conversation with Kim Cogan started when we at his home in the Outer Richmond. It’s for good reason that Kim is sought out to talk about his art. He is an accomplished painter, and his work has hung in studios in cities including New York , Los Angeles, Philadelphia and San Francisco. He is mostly known for his dark, mysterious cityscapes, which he paints based on photographs that he shoots while haunting neighborhood streets.
But I met with Kim to talk about his surfboards. He learned to surf about 10 years ago, while he was living in the Haight-Ashbury and working as an illustrator for a video-game company. But he didn’t like his job, and the day he quit he decided to take up surfing. He borrowed a friend’s board and biked down to the beach, and hasn’t looked back since. He now devotes his time to his artistic pursuits as a painter and to the ocean. Sounds pretty good.
In the arts, Kim has tended to keep his passions for painting and surfing separate, but in recent months he has been combining the two. He recently painted an idealized beach scene on the bottom of a Danny Hess surfboard for the Board Art Benefit show. And he has an upcoming show in September at the Hespe Gallery in San Francisco that will feature paintings all about the ocean and the western edge of the city.
While most of our quiver profiles have featured surfers with expansive surfboard quivers, Kim’s quiver is modest and understated, much like the man himself. Well, modest and understated except for the bright neon graffiti he has spray-painted on the decks of the boards. He figured that since most surfboards are white, he might as well stencil them with spray paint. He has a skull motif in much of his work, with a half-dozen skull replicas in the studio that he keeps in his room. In fact, his Twitter avatar features him holding up a paintings of a skull in front of his face.
But otherwise his quiver is simple and minimalistic, at only five boards: a semi-gun, three high-performance boards and a fish. And the semi-gun is the board that he learned on.
I met with Kim to hear what he had to say about his minimalist surf quiver, in his own words. Here’s what he had to say:
7’0″ Unknown Shaper
This is the board I learned on. I don’t even know the shaper. If you have any idea who the shaper is, that’d be cool. My friends who taught me to surf are from Southern California, and the board has been passed down through three or four different guys, so that’s the most I know. It was actually a really good board to learn on, because it helped me figure out the basics of surfing.
One night I came home, and my landlord had assumed that the board was garbage and he threw it into this huge pile with a bunch of other crap, so it has a ton of cracks and dings on it. It sucked because I learned on it, moved to short boards, but then actually wanted to take this out on big days. And it’s really awesome, it’s like an ’80s-style board that’s a little flatter, with a pretty trippy stringer, but it’s gotten these dings. I had sort of given up on patching it up, but actually since you wanted to come over and talk about my boards, I actually have been cleaning it up in the interest of cleaning it up again.
I guess I could just buy a new board and replace it, but honestly do I really need one? I keep talking myself out of buying tons of boards. I’m not really sure why, I guess I just don’t have room for all of them.
When people ask me about boards, I tell them to get one good shortboard and surf the shit out of it, get it down, then get a fish for smaller days and a step-up board for bigger days.
The skull shortboards
I surf these three boards the most. They’re all pretty similar in their dimensions, and they’re the ones I actually spray-painted.
There’s the 6’2″, which I surfed pretty much all winter, it’s good for solid overhead days. This is my newest board, about a year old. It’s 6’2″, 19 1/4″, 2 1/2″. I was surfing a few boards in the 6’2″ range and I like it as a bit of a step-up board.
The other neon one is 5’9″ and same width and thickness. I actually got that board made for a trip to Bali, and got some really good barrels on it, sort of like the first barrels I’d actually claim. It’s got a wider nose and paddles really nice, and has a fish feeling to it, but because of the tail it still turns pretty nicely. The SF stickers on the top are just from a DJ I saw that I found out, and kind of like them.
The blue skull is a 5’7″, 19 3’8″, and it’s the first board I spray-painted. I saw the board down at Aqua and really liked it, but when I came back to buy it, the board had already been sold. So I just ordered pretty much the exact same thing, and they had a lot of good things to say about it. But now it’s become my go-to board. It’s got no rocker and so you can manuever around the flat spots of the wave, and again it’s epoxy. This blue skull board is actually my first epoxy board, and was shocked at how much spring they have to them. You can spend so much on a new board, up to $700, and then you can ding it so quickly, so it’s good to have something tough. I’ve got a few small dings, but other than that, it’s been great for me.
The whole paint thing, you know you actually don’t really see the designs much when you’re in the water. I just wanted to make the boards my own by designing them. And also I figure, if I get sucked out to sea, the Coast Guard will have no problem spotting me from afar, so the designs definitely serve two purposes.
I spent a long time just riding the fish, and I realized that my turns weren’t developing on the fish, so I needed to get back into the performance boards again. I still surf the fish, I mean I use all my boards, but I tend to focus most on my shortboards these days.
We are always on the hunt for interesting people who love interesting boards, so if you know of someone who might be a good fit for the next installment of “Show Us Your Quiver,” let us know by sending an email to email@example.com