By Stuart Cornuelle
It was late 2009. Insight was gathering their forces to wage war on Australia's southeast quadrant. They were going to tear the place apart — by bus, of course, as befits a band of weird bohemian Insight people — and document the process, both in their addled minds and on film/paper/video. The result would be the "Repeat After Me: I Am Free" ad campaign for 2010. Naïvely, we sent one of our own into the fray, and he came back a little bit altered.
SURFING Magazine: State your name and position at SURFING.
Scott Chenoweth, Associate Art Director. Full-time artist. Part-time home wrecker.
And Scott Chenoweth, Associate Art Director, how did you of all art geeks end up with a ticket to Australia on this Insight bus trip?
Insight asked us to have someone tag along to do a bit of a story on their new campaign, and a few of us were sitting in the SURFING art department talking about a good way to cover it. All we knew was that they were taking a Double-Decker bus with skaters, surfers and models around the east coast of Australia for two weeks — surfing, drinking and stopping at a three-day music festival. We were excited to do something new and different to document the experience, but all of our writers were tied up with other assignments and we were stretched pretty thin around the office — so I raised my hand and said, "I'll cover the shit out of it," half jokingly. But then I started thinking about it, and I had a few good ideas of a new way to cover something for the magazine. I put together a pitch for Travis [Ferre, SURFING Editor] and a few days later I had my ticket booked.
What was your assignment?
I went over there to document the making of their campaign from a behind the scenes, third-layer perspective. My intention was to make a zine and put together a short video.
What do you pack for two weeks with Insight gypsies?
I packed a Polaroid camera, a Hulga, a Flip mini-DV cam, a sketchbook and paint, two boards, my favorite pair of jeans and my cleanest white T-shirts.
What was a regular day like with the crew?
Wake up somewhere random — most of the time in a tent. Then find everyone you think you know and go look for waves. Find some breakfast, then go to the nearest pub. The skaters were on it, turns out it's never flat for them. They were working their asses off. Then we would check the waves again, and later find an outdoor pub with good music, then hang at the Insight store and wait for everyone to show up. Get a group dinner. After dinner it was straight out to wherever had good drinks, live music and a dance floor. Before you know it, 2, 3, 4 am was sneaking up and you're looking for somewhere to crash. Lather, rinse, repeat.
And what did you learn from it all?
Australians approach art, creativity and life in the way I always thought they should be approached. Freedom is a relative term here in the good ol' US of A.
I don't know what that's supposed to mean.