I heard about the art of Chris Viverito, aka The Captain Surfs through his wife and fellow artist, Heather Brown.(read her interview here Based out of Hawai’i, Chris’s creative output is woven with narrative, woodwork, painting, and music. I was honored to hear his approach to creating and am loving his music/illustration collaboration with Heather, Bird Party.
Chris, for those that don’t know you, could you please introduce yourself and explain a bit what you do?
Hi, my name is Chris Viverito. I make art and music and lots of things under the name The Captain Surfs on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawai’i.
Between painting and woodwork, and music, is there one that you favor? One that occupies more of your time?
I seem to favor my extreme ADD! Ha-ha. It really changes by the day/week. I enjoy creating things and I also get burnt out on certain stages of the creation process in each medium, which is usually when I switch gears for a little while and move on to something else. My woodwork art definitely occupies the majority of my time though. I think in a perfect world I would concentrate on creating music 75%+ of the time as I love time in the studio and performing so much. Time truly flies by when creating music.
Do you think that by doing art and woodwork; the two strengthen each other within the Captain Surfs name?
I would guess it does, I just recently in the past year or so started selling some paintings rather than my wood work type art. I paint just about every morning, so I had stacks ofpieces and would give them away to collectors of my wood art or friends and family. Since I started selling them to the public, it’s been fun to see different people gravitate to the rest of my art because of them. I’m still really immature in my painting, but I love to do them each morning as a form of meditation.
The themes of surf culture and the ocean both appear in your artwork. Are there any other sources where you draw direct inspiration or influence?
I’ve been living in the islands for 20+ years and on the beaches of the mainland for years before that, so it is really just interpreting where my life is, has been and probably will grow old in. My wife, artist Heather Brown, and I travel a ton for work and I feel like a sponge for outside inspirations wherever we go. I actually wrote the 4 song 7″ for Bird Party in hotel rooms in Japan during my last spring tour there in 2014. It was totally inspired by being in Tokyo and Osakaand other large cities in Japan.
Are there any creative processes that you go through, like brainstorming for designs or working through paintings to get to a certain concept?
Brainstorm, brainstorm, brainstorm…repeat! It’s about all we do as a family. Between me and Heather and my two girls the conversations are usually 85% about new creative endeavors, 12.5% about baby animals and 2.5% about what’s happening in the real world. I usually make anywhere from 5-50 of the same basic piece in the initial design period. Some start out more detailed and I try to keep simplifying and some start like super simple block art and turn into extremely precise and detailed pieces. The whole process of making art to me is the process.
One of the things that I like about your work is that you created your own narrative for the work with the story of The Captain. I heard you mention before that it was to compensate for people not knowing how to pronounce your last name, but to do thing it adds a certain texture to how someone perceives your work?
For sure. Years back the name “Captain” was given to me off the cuff from friend and fellow artist Yusuke Hanai. It stuck, but seemed a bit pompous (still does) so I just tried to figure out how to make it funny, I did some sketches and it always came out as an old skeleton like wrinkly guy surfing. So The Captain Surfs was born. I like the narrative, you can see my bio here:
Art as well as life should be about enjoyment in my mind, so I like to play and enjoy. Going forward, it definitely added a really defined texture to my work (mostly by others)
I really like the concept of the Bird Party collaboration with you and Heather. Can you explain a bit about what it is and how it came about?
Thanks so much! We were on the road somewhere and we both kind of suffer from insomnia, especially while on the road. At like 2 or 3 am in the hotel room I started strumming a really generic funny ukulele riff and we just started from there. By first light we had bought the domain, sketched ideas and began the writing process for the music. As the world turned, it became a limited edition 7″ vinyl record called “Into the Wild with Bird Party” that we released more like an old record from the 70’s. Custom box, lots of original art by Heather Brown, funny liner notes, etc.; all about a band of Bird’s and what they did on their vacation to Hawaii to record their record. It is truly art in every sense of the word and we are both so proud of the project and how it turned out. It was definitely a lesson in sourcing and patience and sticking with something for the very long haul!
Can we expect a sophomore release from the band?
I hope so. I am currently working on the pre-recording of my new solo album “The Captain Surfs…… I think” which will be a full length album that will be a bit more serious on the musical end of it.
Would you be open to collaborating musically outside of the Bird Party concept?
Absolutely. I love playing music and I really enjoy collaborating with new and different people and ideas.
What were some of the biggest issues that you ran into with networking early on? How did you eventually get through them?
I never liked school or really any traditional ways of life in general that I realized at a very early age that if anything was to happen in my life, I had to make it happen and use any and all resources available. Because of that I have been networking since elementary school! I love it, and I am definitely a better networker/idea man than actual artist, so that was never a real struggle for me.
Do you typically let your work advertise itself or do you do anything to attract/contact potential clients?
Since all of my art is original, and most takes a lot of time to produce, I don’t really advertise or look for potentials because the few solid galleries that support my art generally could sell more than I could ever make. I definitely work the social media outlets when I have art available and I am always trying to get into shows, etc. The next big wave of “advertising” my things will be for my next record release.
Are there any routines or systems that you follow to keep consistency in your day-to-day activity?
My routine is based on having a healthy paranoia of having to ever work for anyone else again! I follow a system of whenever we are not on the road, the surf isn’t really good or the powder isn’t perfect, we work, work, work. I’m not a big partier or really even that social, so my downtime from family, surf and snow is all spent creating things. I generally work about 10+ hours a day 6+ days a week when not on tour.
Are there any tools you use to manage your time?
Not really, I don’t own a clock or a watch, so time just kind of passes and I just do as much with my time as I can.
Are there any strategies you’re using to promote your work?
I’m a social media promoting addict, nothing really else, though.
You use reclaimed wood for your own work, as well as making frames, boards, etc. Do you see a strong value in being self-sufficient in creating the products you use?
I believe in using what is around, a few years back when the real estate market wasn’t so good, all the old houses on the North Shore were being torn down and re-built as big rental monstrosities so I would go around and offer to clean up the sites and stock away as much material as I could. then we got into pallets about 10 years ago because in Hawai’i, no companies want to take them back (they used to pay you $50 to give them back) but with oil and gas prices, they just assume you keep them, so there would be stacks everywhere of pallets, so we started making EVERYTHING out of them, I have friends that have built little homes from them even. I think there is huge value in being self-sufficient and learning and knowing how to useany type of material rather than seeing it end up in a landfill.
How do you feel that the work you create contributes to creative/surf culture?
Like a needle in a haystack
Do you see yourself taking The Captain Surfs concept in any new directions in the near future?
It would be a safe bet that The Captain Surfs will be going in any and all new directions in the future. The ADD Force is strong in this middle aged soul! I am working on a few new upcoming and exciting projects with a few great companies that are getting behind me and my work and I am just finishing up building my new studio so lots of new art is right around the corner!
Any final words?
I just want to thank everyone for the incredible support and Sole Imperial for taking the time to do an interview with me!
Check out The Captain’s work here