Truth be told, I’ve been waiting to write about the very first issue of the excellent new broadsheet put out by Indoek, the surf blog published in part by Southern California design studio ITAL/C for quite some time. Founders Matt Titone and Ron Thomas sent me a copy months ago, and I’ve been savoring it ever since, tearing out and pasting up images of sunlit surfers riding tantalizing-looking waves to warm my SoCal-born soul on the coldest winter days over here on the other side of the country at AIGA HQ. But this winter has been unseasonably warm, and I just haven’t found myself California dreaming as hard as I usually do. At this time last year, for instance, I was already online ordering cakes of Mr. Zog’s Sex Wax to use as paperweights at my desk.
But enough is enough—the Venice issue of this “84-page large format zine” that profiles surf cities around the world is too good to keep to myself. For those unfamiliar with the surf rag genre, it’s rare to find a quality title with quality design, but like its blog, Indoek in print has both. I guess it doesn’t hurt when two of your blog’s founders run a design studio that turns out top-notch work for local companies and bigger brands like Reebok, Prius, and Alternative Apparel.
As its format and subject matter suggests, Indoek’s Venice issue is a laid back, armchair travel guide, with tips on where to the get the best tacos running side by side interviews with pro surfers and surf legends alike (plus a conversation with Dogtown boy Skip Engblom), pages away from a Polaroid photo essay of local weed dispensaries and—one of my favorite sections—a satirical illustrated series of modern Venice archetypes by Danny DiMauro.
But what really ties the issue together for me is its ability to accurately portray a neighborhood in the midst of rapid flux. When I was a teenager growing up in Pasadena (for non locals, read: a buttoned-up inland suburb miles away from the shore both in mindset and physical distance) we begged to go to Venice, the weird sister to the comparatively pristine Santa Monica beach just feet away. But Venice was deemed to dodgy, and when my friends and I snuck out we saw what our parents were talking about. Now my parents go to dinner there for a “night out.”
Indoek manages to capture this tension between pre- and post-gentrification Venice in a way that depicts the neighborhood as it is today while still doing right by those who were there first. An added bonus? It’s surprisingly season-less for a publication that couldn’t exist without summer, but you don’t have to know how to surf in order to enjoy everything else coastal cities like Venice have to offer. This winter, you might just need to be transported someplace where you know they’re shaving down fiberglass boards while you’re suiting up in your thermals and hat and gloves before braving the long, cold commute. Works for me, anyway.