Gary Parker - Sea Stoke

Where did you grow up and learn to surf?
I grew up in the hills on the outskirts on Melbourne in Australia. I was however lucky enough to have a holiday house that my parents owned down at a place called Phillip Island, about an hour drive from where we lived. Phillip island is an amazing place with a wave on nearly every condition. It was here I guessI first got my taste of the ocean, which from then on forever changed my life.

What do you love about surfing?
So many things… When I surf nothing else seems to matter. For me it is a total release, a kind of mediation. It is also a great healer and can totally change the mood I am in, always for the better.

What was your most memorable wave?
I have had so many memorable moments in the ocean they all kind of blur into one. Generally the moments that run through my head from time to time though are the ones that I have pushed my comfort level. Bigger, heavier waves I find are always the most memorable to me. Whether good or bad! Also those super fun summer sessions with just a just handful of good mates, glassy conditions and a setting sun with cold beers afterwards.

Who inspires you?
Lots of things inspire me everyday, but I really get inspired from people who are doing what they truly love. Not because of money or status or any of that – but purely from the heart. It takes a lot of courage and determination to do this.

Of all the places you have travelled to, what place in particular stands out? And why?
I don’t think I can answer that. I love to travel as it makes me feel alive. It is such an important part of my life. Everywhere I have been I usually fall in love with something, often finding it hard to leave… Right now I am in Nicaragua, which is blowing my mind, but before that is was Panama, and before that Mexico, all places I feel very close to now. I believe everywhere in the world has something amazing to offer if you give a place some time and respect.

What sort of education have you had?
I have a degree in fine arts & graphic design and am about halfway through a Diploma of Photography, which I have put on hold whilst travelling, which is now my teacher.

What was your very first job?
Delivering newspapers with an old bike when I was about 10. That job taught me a lot I think… I remember hating having to get up at 5 in the morning and getting paid only $10 for the whole weeks work… Which is why I am so punctual and good at saving money?? No but it did teach me that things don’t come easy and that you need to work hard to get anywhere in life.

What is your current job?
Currently I am travelling with my girlfriend but still working on the road as freelance designer & photographer. We have also started an online magazine called Sea Stoke. With the help of today’s technologies, I am able to continue what I do along the way, which at times has proven tough but also very rewarding. Each day opens up more opportunity and experiences, and the road has become my office as well as my classroom.

What do you do on a day to day basis for your work?
Right now it varies a great deal being on the road. I have been picking up a lot of photography work along the way as well as some design. One day I might be shooting photographs, the next I might be illustrating some art for t-shirts or researching content for the next issue of Sea Stoke.

How did you get into the position you are today?
I have worked in the design industry for close to ten years now. Working for various companies along the way including Quiksilver, Armourdillo, Target, Puma and Yamaha and it wasn’t till recently I decided to venture into the unknown. I felt it was time for a big change, time to get inspired again. Something as a creative, I feel is very important. I felt a bit lost in the corporate world and needed something new. I began working as a photographer which I have a really strong connection with, but I felt it was time to see more of the world. With no real plan or return ticket home, I decided to hit the road, at the same time pursuing some personal projects along the way. I have been continuing my freelance work, but having this freedom allows me to pick and choose to align more with what I am doing. The freedom is also allowing me to focus more on my photography. It is kind of a scary feeling letting go of everything, but at the same time an amazing one I cannot really explain.

Do you have any mentors?
I have had many people throughout my life, who have helped me grow into who I am today, but I think my biggest mentors are the people who have told me over and over again – do what makes you happy and you will never work a day in your life. Listen to your elders as they are the ones who realize how fast life ticks away.

What do you like most about your job?
I love the fact that I have combined all my passions into what I do being surf, photography, travel, art and design – I am stoked. Being creative and not locked into a 9-5 job is an amazing gift that I feel so privileged to have.

What are you most proud of?
Following my heart and what feels right. Life is too short to be unhappy.

Where can we find you online?

Instagram: seastoke
Twitter: @seastoke

Posted by: Troy Roennfeldt, on May 27, 2013
Categories: Interviews