Heralded as the “Best Surf Artist of the Past Decade,” Jay Alders is an artist, globetrotter and Father-to-be who sat down with Conscious Connection to share his art, his connection with life and his advice for pursuing dreams.
Conscious Connection: It’s great to be with you, Jay. Tell us how your mentality is shifting now that you’re becoming a dad? How does this impact your life and art?
Jay Alders: So far it just brings a new awareness to life. You start looking at people, situations and beautiful things differently and take notice of it more. Certain things that are potentially a risk factor for yourself and your future family are more on your radar. I’ve felt a shift that I want to contribute and be part of a solution towards things. I always have but I feel like now it’s more heightened.
Conscious Connection: How has your childhood influenced your art and led you to be the artist you are today?
Jay Alders: You know Howell, it’s the suburbs. We’re about 13 miles from the beach so we have some beach influence there. Once I got my license a new world opened up. Every day after school I’d go surf and hang out at all the cool spots. Things kind of open up and you’re like, wow, this a pretty cool lifestyle.
Before that I grew up skating and BMX biking. I’ve always been into more individualistic sports and surfing opened my world to the ocean. I got into other aspects of the ocean besides just surfing.
It’s pretty cool knowing how you’re connected to the world and there’s a whole paradigm underneath the layer of water. Just seeing how it all connects adds another element to your surfing. When you’re on the water and you’re surfing, you’re connecting and riding with energy from thousands of miles away. There’s something about that that’s just magical.
Conscious Connection: When did you come to the realization that everything’s connected and how has that influenced your art?
Jay Alders: It’s hard to answer when you got to that realization because saying that encapsulates the idea as if it’s something you could just digest easily. It’s not.
“Don't just look forward, look within.” – Jay Alders
I think it’s just becoming aware of different levels of realization. Once you become aware of different levels there’s always the next level. Just being aware is the first step. From that point forward you can take proactive steps towards whichever direction you want to go. Until you get to that phase, I think a lot of us live in a bubble where we don’t realize there’s a lot more to it than that.
I feel like we’re just a vehicle for that pure creativity, the creativity that really flows through us, whether it’s art, surfing, music, whatever. The most egoless form of that expression is just surrendering and allowing it to be.
From that point you have fine controls where you might shift its direction slightly. If I’m painting I might think this color would go better. It’s more like an intention. You might say I have an intention to do this or to do that. It’s like guiding the autopilot in different directions. Once I surrender I become a witness to my own paintbrush.
Conscious Connection: That sounds like a phenomenal experience. So you’re just a conduit for something greater moving through you? You’re just trying to get out of the way?
Jay Alders: In a way, when it’s at the most pure. You experience this with surfing. You have a moment on the wave where you feel like it’s so pure and magical and you’re so connected. And that exact moment when you realize it is when you lose it. Because that’s when your ego gets in the way and you start thinking things like Wow I’m great! Or I learned something or whatever you start thinking. As soon as your mind jumps in you want to have a mental popcorn trail of how you got there and you start analyzing.
You say well right before I had that or I thought this or I did that or I breathed this way or I ate this this morning. You think about it too much and that’s when it’s like boom, wake up. Now it’s gone. It’s about keeping your mind out of it as much as you can while still being aware. It’s a weird place to be.
I was doing yoga the other day and the teacher said, “Stillness is not the absence of movement, stillness is the absence of conflict.” I thought this was pretty cool. In yoga you can be in a pose and from the outside it looks like there’s no motion. But you’re actually tensing and loosening muscles to get a certain position of the body.
Conscious Connection: So you’ve been practicing yoga for about 5 years or so, how has that influenced your art?
Jay Alders: Yoga’s just another means of connecting with that energy. Of connecting and letting that energy flow through you. Any means you can do that in a pure way is going to affect everything else you’re doing.
For me, yoga is a great way to connect with that spiritual level of reality that enables art to flow through. They feed into each other. My art helps my yoga, my yoga helps my surfing, my surfing helps my skateboarding. It’s all connected, like different Apps. Your hardware is your brain and different Apps do different things and you realize that this way of doing things actually works. You start finding these common denominators between various activities and thought processes. I think that just raises the awareness overall.
* Two days after we sat down with Jay, his beautiful new daughter Summer Emerson Alders was born on 10/10/13.
Check out some of Jay’s awesome art at www.jayalders.com