ROXY recently wrapped up it’s four month international social media contest “Let the Sea Set You Free” by announcing three winners from across the globe.California’s Katie Mclean, along with Emilie Layla Lovaine from Wales and Madison Setaiwan from Bali, won the chance to live like the ROXY girls and surf with the world’s best athletes.
A select group of ROXY representatives and professional athletes selected the three winners after watching over 5,000 submission videos. All three of the girls will travel to France next week for the ROXY Pro Biarritz and receive $5,000 in cash.
We had the chance to interview 23-year-old Santa Barbara native Katie Mclean to see what gave her that special edge over the other contestants.
SB: Congratulations on winning the life of a ROXY girl! What are you most looking forward to in your journey with ROXY?
KM: Thank you! I’m so stoked to be representing a company that encompasses all of my passions: surfing, traveling, art, media, fashion and philanthropy. I’m really looking forward to meeting all the like-minded people of ROXY and the other two winners, and surfing, traveling and creating with them!
SB: Growing up in Santa Barbara, Calif., it’s obvious you fell in love with the surf culture. But tell us, when and how were you inspired to surf?
KM: I didn’t have that whirlwind romance with surfing that some do. It was more of an on-and-off love affair until I was really ready to commit. But growing up in the same warehouse as the Channel Islands Surfboards factory and the surf museum, surfing has always been that boy next door. It was really only a matter of time.
I don’t remember that monumental first wave that some people do. I do remember when I was 5 spending summer at the beach fighting with the other groms over that one boogie board with fins. You could get to this kneeling position on it, and for a split-second stand before wiping out. That was definitely my first kiss with surfing. It wasn’t until the beginning of high school, just after my parent’s divorce, that I started spending a lot of time in the water. I sought solitude in the sea and found a sport and lifestyle that I fell in love with. What really pushed my surfing was my time spent with the local boys of Santa Barbara and the Hollister Ranch. Seeing them surf, surfing with them, traveling to the best breaks, dialing in my equipment and learning more about technique really helped me progress.
SB: After watching your first video, you’re quite an accomplished young woman- digital media degree, artist, musician and craft guru! What really moved you to enter this contest?
KM: I love creating anything and everything, so it was really just the idea of making a video that got me excited to enter. Also the prompt, ‘Let the sea set you free,’ seemed to address me perfectly. Expressing myself came so naturally.
SB: You said you have an art gallery and your proceeds go to benefit art education and the environment. Could you tell us a little about what you’re doing with that and if you are involved with any organizations?
KM: In 2009, I opened Latitude Gallery in the Funk Zone of Santa Barbara to bring together like-minded artists, surfers, and environmentalists. Each sea-inspired art show, surf movie premiere, and music event has benefitted a non-profit like Surfrider or Waves For Water. The next group show on Oct. 6, “The Wine of Art,” is inspired by the Funk Zone’s knack for artistic up-cycling, concentration of wineries, and community of surfers. Reusing bottles, barrels and crates as canvases, artists will pay homage to the drink that fuels so many creations. The show will benefit Project Save Our Surf, an ocean conservation foundation against pollution. The entire eclectic neighborhood of wineries, galleries and surf shops will be bustling October 6 as part of a neighborhood event.
Since being featured as Project Save Our Surf’s June Surfer of the Month, I’ve become involved with their Wahine Project/Project South Swell. At events throughout California and Mexico in August, I basically get to spend the day at the beach with little girls teaching them yoga, surfing and environmental stewardship! I’ll be singing and curating an art project for them. I’m especially excited to travel to Sayulita, Mexico to volunteer at Costa Verde School, deliver water filters and paint a mural.
I’ll be hosting an event called Draw for a Cause Thursday, July 26 at Latitude Gallery in Santa Barbara, Calif., to raise funds and collect supplies for the trip. From 6-9 p.m., anyone can come to the figure drawing workshop by donation.
SB: Choose a surfer, an artist and a musician who most inspires you and tell us why.
KM: This is tough…
Surfer- I’m going to have to go with lesser-known-to-you local Santa Barbarian, Travers Adler. Grace with an element of surprise, is what keeps me captivated. Travers seamlessly blends a smooth retro surfing style with mind-blowing modern maneuvers to always keep you on the edge of your board. He’ll soul arch by you, throw you a high-five, fly into the air, and finish it off with an inside barrel seated on his butt. He’s the most fun surfer to watch and he’s having the most fun. He’s always smiling, humble, and friendly to everyone in the water. Oh, and he rips on the guitar and with a watercolor set.
Artist- I’m inspired by so many different artists… but there’s a few next-level dynamic creators who encompass what I hope to aspire to. Mike Shine has always been an idol. He’s covered just about everything I’d like to do from art direction, to mixed-media surf art, to his retro hand-built home. Yes, I am part of Shepard Fairey’s huge fan club- but who can help but aspire to the message, murals, clothing company and design studio he’s built. Right now though, my eyes are on the Israeli street art crew Broken Fingaz. Their explosive, comic book, collage style and use of environment make my eyes drool. Last year I created my first street art collab and I’m dying for the next. I’m definitely gaining inspiration from them for an installation collab I’ll be doing in September.
Musician- I love good mixtape…From soul singers to sound engineers and from garage fuzz to minimalist beats, there’s a moment for it all. I’ve got a soft spot for, so I think I could always rely Cold War Kids, The Black Keys and Mason Jennings. And I definitely look up to strong female voices currently doing their own thing, like L.P., Lia Ices, Fiona Apple, Lianne La Havas, Meshell Ndegeocello, Santigold and Lana del Rey. I’ve got to mention the smaller bands that I’m obsessed with like Say Hi and Los Angeles-born Rumspringa who played at my gallery last year. They create some of my favorite sounds ever. Lastly, The Cave Singers put on the most magical, intimate, live performance I’ve ever seen at the Autry Museum.
But to answer the question: Jimmi Hendrix. No explanation needed.
SB: We know you’ve done some work for DEEP Surf Magazine. What do you like most about writing?
KM: I love playing with words; mixing their meanings and bouncing from one adjective to another to subtly tell two stories at once. The rhythm and flow of feelings are so unique to this medium. I like the variety of writing I do as well—scribbling poetry and writing first hand accounts to create a moving montage of images in my head, or organizing information in captivating ways for my environmental articles.
SB: As part of your prize, you get to travel with the ROXY girls to the ROXY Pro Biarritz in France. Which pro are you most excited to meet and why?
KM: I’m excited to meet all the radiant women on the Roxy team. I really admire each of their unique qualities and can’t wait to connect with them on different levels. I admire fellow Californian Kassia’s creative spirit and retro wetsuit line, Sally’s athleticism, Lee Ann’s music, and Monyca’s bikini fashion design . And I’ll definitely get dorky fan jitters when I meet Lisa Anderson. I don’t think I can keep my cool and resist asking for an autograph.
SB: How do you feel about the progression of women’s surfing? Do you think people are starting to appreciate it more and if so, why do you think that is?
KM: The progression in women’s surfing in the last few years is unreal. I’m so stoked to be entering the surf industry at this time. All eyes are on the ladies right now—they’re pushing boundaries and boosting airs, while bikini-clad and smiling. I especially love how they’re bringing such a positive energy to the sport of surfing. Amidst the competition, they’re so supportive of each other and seem have a greater intention of inspiring women all over the world.
SB: What is your main goal in life? What do you hope to accomplish?
KM: I’m still exploring…but I can confidently say that my goal in life is to explore and inspire. I want to continue to explore different artistic mediums and creative outlets, always be trying new things, learning and growing. I like having a huge palette of tools to choose from so I can design the most unique solutions to all kind of problems. I’ll eventually be an art director, but I also hope to design for the benefit of others. I want to explore world too; travel, see different environments, experience cultures, meet people, hear stories, and be inspired. Most of all, I want my creations to inspire. And I also want to inspire as person and friend always.
SB: Just for fun- who would you rather be stranded on a deserted island with and why? Kelly Slater or Julian Wilson?
KM: Hands down, Jules. Have you Seen Blue Lagoon?
Watch Katie’s finalist video below!