Kind of Adrift with Slightly Choppy

A few days at sea and a few books with Scott Richards owner, artist, curator, and designer at Slightly Choppy

Photo of Scott by @almondsurfboards

Longtime surfer and Newport Beach, CA, fixture Scott Richards knows his way around the water, but we wanted to see if by some happen chance he were to find himself adrift, what couple of books would bring this artist the most comfort during his time bobbing between the waves.

“I’ve always been a dreamer, but never a drifter,” Scott told us via email. “When I was 18, I moved to Newport Beach, CA straight from my hometown of Detroit. I’ve been here 30 years now and haven’t drifted. But I do love to travel, surf, and enjoy daily life near the ocean, but I’m too much of an artist and culture vulture to get lost at sea. Too many things to do on land.” As the name Slightly Choppy implies, the company does have a nautical bent, though, specializing in hand-made felt surf pennants and Scott’s studio is headquartered in what once was, during Newport’s maritime heyday, a sail manufacturing loft. While he’s got one foot on the land, Scott continues, “But with that said, I have been out to sea for 10 days and learned to love the simplicity of everyday life on a small vessel. I want to make, design, dream and produce while adrift.”

Scott shared with us the five books he’d bring to pass the time in the doldrums and his thoughts on what’s special about each one to him. Thanks for getting on the boat with us, Scott.

“So my choices for five books if I were adrift at sea are choices based on books that have been inspiring and directional for me throughout my life.”

The Portable Beat Reader

by Ann Charters, editor
The first is a book entitled The Portable Beat Reader, edited and compiled by Ann Charters. It’s a dense and lengthy collection of American Beat writer’s works including Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, Gary Snyder, Bob Dylan and others. Over 700 pages of some of the most experimental material. It really makes me want to explore, question, and live a little reckless and raw. So many different writing styles—poems, lyrics, essays, stories and such. I’m always finding something new and easy to pick up from it. I’ll be bringing this one from home.

Sailed Alone

by MacDonald Harris
I used to eat at a small restaurant on the Newport Beach harbor called Josh Slocums—I never really knew the story behind the name, but after my father-in-law gave me this book called They Sailed Alone by MacDonald Harris, did I realize who Joshua Slocum was. Back in 1895, Joshua was one of the first people to sail around the world solo, and I couldn’t imagine being alone and trusting myself that entire time. No better challenge than to trust yourself single-handedly to take nature and the elements head-on. I’ve barely read this book, but no better a reason than to bring it along.

Pet Sounds

by Jim Fusilli
I’m sure I would have plenty of music onboard as life is always better with a soundtrack. Sunrises with some cool jazz from Miles or Coltrane and into some Kamasi Washington then midday tunes with Sufjan Stevens, The War on Drugs, Neal Young and other singer-songwriters and then maybe an early evening with some Radiohead. Ok, I’m getting off subject but wanted to lead into my third book called Pet Sounds, a small pocket-sized book by Jim Fusilli (from the 33 1/3 series), an intimate and informative dive into Brian Wilson’s process as he masterfully writes The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds album. This album was on repeat when I was a teenager. I felt like Brian knew exactly what I was going through as a kid. This little book puts context to his creative process and his sense of hope for a simpler life. I like a book that gives insight and inspiration into and from a creative person’s mind. This book is an easy read and more like a little pop-history book.

You Can Find Inspiration in Everything*: (*and If You Can’t, Look Again!)

by Paul Smith
The fourth book has pictures, graphics, color and all types of found objects—fashion designer Paul Smith’s book called You Can Find Inspiration in Everything*: (*and If You Can’t, Look Again!) it’s part textbook, part workbook—it’s a visual playground of his inspiration and body of work. His sense of humor and cheeky POV is clever and colorful. The perfect book for sparking something to build from.

The final and probably most important is the Bible. Every trip and every vessel needs a guiding light from the word of God.

Of course, I’d pick up books as often as I could, but these are the books I’d bring that I’d be stoked as go-tos through my journey.

If you find yourself in Newport Beach, pop by the studio and say hello and follow along with Scott @slightlychoppy.