A BENT LIFE

July 14, 2022

Interview + photos by: Grey Lockwood

 

Video by: Joe McGettigan @purpletoaster

 

Tell us a bit about your upbringing and how you found surfing in your life at a young age?

I grew up with surfing uncles and our family moved down to Orange County in the mid-seventies. We would go up and visit my uncle who was working for Becker Surfboards and still riding for Rick Surfboards. My other uncle was really good friends with Wes Price who started Natural Design Surfboards in the Southbay. My uncle was living on the Strand in Hermosa and would give me most of my skateboards at my parents request.

 Growing up in the South Bay, give us a look into your influences for surfing and art. Did you have any specific mentors that had a profound effect on you pursuing your passions in life?

 My family all went to Aviation High School in Los Angeles. Quite a few of my family rode a Bing as their first surfboard. My mom was great friends with Dru Harrison who rode for Petrillo and Rick at the time. One of my oldest memories was walking through Petrillo Surf Shop and watching people play chess on Pier Avenue.

 

Talk about riding longboards in the 80's during the era when almost nobody rode anything that size. Where did you normally surf and why did you never transition to shorter boards?

    I originally rode shortboards, but Phil Becker shaped my uncle a 9-foot thruster longboard for the Dewey Weber contest and afterwards he gave me that board. Because it was the 80’s, I wanted to rip on a wave, but also be able to walk to the nose. Most people were either trying to get really radical or staying traditional with their style. I was trying to do both and I definitely got some heat from people because I was young and nobody else surfed like me. It was a rad experimental time because I was doing longboard contests and listening to 60’s surf music trying to emulate all of my heroes from the 60’s. I was working and doing art for Becker Surfboards, so a ton of my inspiration from the 60’s would be on display through my work I did for the Becker stores. 

     

    What does a day in the life of Brian Bent look like? Surfing, music, art,          cars, family, etc. How do you find time for it all?

    These days I pretty much paint on a daily basis and my inspiration either comes from surfing, hot rods, or fashion. I always wake up super thankful for a new day and have some coffee. Most days I’ll surf in the morning and after lunch I’ll grab another coffee before I go into my studio to work on projects. My wife and I are working more and more together since she is helping me manage and sell my art plus setting up different events where I get to show my art. I try to play music as often as possible with my daughter who is the drummer in our band “The Bent Duo”. She is very busy as well with modeling and her own art career, but we get to travel and play shows together throughout the year which is very special.

    What are your favorite surf spots around California and which boards do you typically ride?

    To this day I still surf Doheny and San Onofre on a regular basis. Both of these spots hold so many of my surfing memories and have always been a big part of California surf culture. Also, on occasion I’ll try to go up and surf Malibu, plus we get out to Waikiki every year for a family surf vacation which is such a rad experience.

    Are there people from this younger generation that inspire you these days whether it's surfing, art, music? 

    As far as the younger generation, they all ride longboards so incredibly well. There is way more really talented longboarders these days than when we were doing it. I get super inspired by the creative moves they come up with and sometimes I’m blown away at what is possible on a big board after watching them. We thought we were really punk rock surfing Salt Creek on longboards and just smashing the lip, but these days kids have it figured out. There are always a few standouts, but that never takes away from the rest of the crowd that is surfing their own way and digging their own groove in the ocean.

    Surfing has grown in popularity at a pretty rapid pace over the last 2 decades. What is your take on the crowds and how do you manage to keep a positive attitude when surfing with quite a few people on a normal basis?

    I’ve seen about four generations of longboarders grow up by now and it’s still so rad to be a part of the culture. I’m riding a ton of kookboxes and really old stuff, so I’m not too concerned with the crowds in terms of competition. Both spots I surf tend to always be crowded, so I don’t let it get to me if possible. I try to pray for peace and patience when I’m in the ocean because that’s what it is all about. There is no reason to get all tweaked out on somebody dropping in on you because it will ruin your mindset which should be positive. I still struggle with some people who are a bit more dangerous when they cut me off in a critical section of the wave, but it rarely happens. I love to see that there are two types of longboarding again, the more traditional approach and also the performance style that is making a comeback too. There really aren’t any rules these days. You can be riding a board from the 40’s and back on your high-performance board the same day!

    How can people see your work and get a hold of you? Website, Instagram, etc.

    - People can always message me through Instagram or email me if they are interested in purchasing a piece of art. We just finished a private art gallery space at my home in San Juan Capistrano, so I try to make time for people to come by and see my work in person as well. My daughter and I have a new record coming out this summer for “The Bent Duo” and we’ll be touring during the last half of the year, so we’ll try to let everyone know the dates of the shows when we can. 

     

    God Bless,

    Brian Bent

     

    Instagram: @brian_bent + @bentduo

    Email: bentgallery@gmail.com

     

     


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