In the Studio: Scott Richards of Slightly Choppy



The creative mastermind behind Slightly Choppy

We’ve been fans of Scott Richards’ surf-inspired hand-sewn flags for a while, but after a trip down the coast where we got to visit his Newport Beach studio, we knew we wanted to share his story on the Rundown. This piece originally ran over on Huckberry.

Life hack: Never turn off your music. Life needs a soundtrack, and you can strike up a great conversation with the right music playing.

Music or station to work to: Living just outside of LA, it has to be 89.9 KCRW, love Morning Becomes Eclectic, but the late night sets are the jam.

What inspired Slightly Choppy? Slightly Choppy was originally just a term we used for the texture of the ocean when checking the surf. I liked the way that it nodded to something imperfect—not quite there, but just slightly. I’ve always appreciated the hand-done process through hand-written typography, showing pencil lines in a painting, or drips that were happy accidents—marks that prove the human hand was involved. So now my surf reference is my artistic approach. Everything is intentionally perfectly imperfect.

We heard you’re also making trophies? Why? My boys played sports, surfed competitively and did the Junior Lifeguard program for years. At times they would bring home trophies that were engraved plexiglass plaques that I found really tough to display in their rooms. So I wanted to try and improve the them. I began reimagining their awards and made handcrafted surf and bodysurfing trophies with unique character and an artful aesthetic.

What makes a rad dad? A rad dad is one that truly supports their kids no matter what and surrounds them with love and inspiration. The best part of being a dad is the opportunity to make an impression on my boys and prepare them for their own paths. I paint with my them, surf with them, hit the flea market with them, and show them how to give mom back rubs.

Next Huckberry purchase: I gotta get me one of those Wellen Stretch Chore Coats—the cool California mornings need just one more layer to keep the chill off.

Most inspiring person you follow on Instagram: It has to be the French photographer, JR. His projects and urban installations are larger than life and actually inspiring and changing communities through his street art. I’m blown away every time.

Favorite weekend trip: My favorite weekend quick strikes are just over the border to Northern Baja, Mexico, with my boys to surf Baja Malibu, K-38, or some other secret spot down there. It’s almost too easy to completely enter another world in just a few short hours of traveling.

Scott at work in the studio.

Scott at work in the studio.

What inspired you to move to Southern California? Growing up as a kid just outside of Detroit, it was difficult to get to consistent surf, as you can imagine. When I finished high school, I moved straight to Newport Beach and haven’t left. I’ve been here for 30 years now.

Where’s your favorite surf spot? My favorite surf spot is obviously the beach breaks along the Newport peninsula and jetties. The sandbars are always shifting, and the variety of swell directions makes it fun and unpredictable every day.

One meal to eat for the rest of your life: Give me Prince Street Pizza in NYC, please.

Favorite Huckberry Purchase: I live in the Wellen Hemp Tees. They’re the perfect balance of good fit, a washed-in look, and a great texture that’s just soft enough.

Book that's changed your behavior the most: Recently it has been Launch Your Dream by Dale Partridge. It’s about turning your passion into your profession, and it has really encouraged me to act upon my ideas and turning my dreams into reality.

Scott Richards    in Chile. Photo courtesy of    Scott Richards

Scott Richards in Chile. Photo courtesy of Scott Richards

Favorite spot you’ve traveled: This is a tough one, but one place I loved was Pichilemu in southwest Chile. It’s one of the world’s great surf and fishing towns, and I surfed one of the longest left point breaks of my life there. And when I left the water, My absolute favorite photo of me was taken—I’m posing with my surfboard and a llama.

If you had $500, how would you blow it on Huckberry? I would probably load up on some Morrow bedding with that amazing indigo Linear Quilt Set and throw in Matteo’s Harbor Linen Sheet Set underneath. They say we spend a third of our life in bed? Well, might as well be comfortable and look good.

What’s next for Slightly Choppy? There is a whole slew of other hand-made objects I’ve been cooking up in the studio. My business demands I focus on one thing (flags), but my creative side needs exploration and side distractions. I find that when I leave one project for another, it then influences everything else.

Thomas McDermott