Are you Cosmically Ready for ED?
I’m sitting in offices modestly labelled “E. Diamond-Diversified,” and I’m wondering to myself what exactly the “diversified” bit means. I feel like I’m six years old again watching the coyote and Bugs Bunny go at it. And the coyote has just handed Bugs his business card: Wile E. Coyote – Genius. I’m half expecting an anvil to come crashing through the roof as we sit down.
The E is for Eric, big fella. Smiley, warm, and humming with ideas the way hives hum with bees, he has news, he has things, there are details, and too many stories to tell. It becomes clear early on that “Diversified” is not some secretive catch-all for what he does, it’s what he is: Passion, with a capital “P” and, passionate is what he feels just about every damned thing. If you could bottle the enthusiasm dripping out of the guy you would easily solve the energy crisis and have some left over for dessert. Globs of it flick from his fingers when he talks, his smile is infectious, his eyes like a kids’-veritable fireworks of excitement-grokking on the possibility of it all.
Before this was Eric (“E.D.” to basically everyone except possibly his mom) Diamond’s, modest Dana Point office, it belonged to surfing godfather John Severson, the legendary presence behind Surfer magazine. Severson ran Surfer from this cozy space for years before getting into it with Dick Nixon and his Secret Service and eventually selling up and splitting to the promised land in Maui. It’s a spotless space, what was once a trove of surf pics, lists of secret spots and a veritable treasury of classic surf film reels. In short, this was the prima facie HQ of the surf industry, its Gutenberg press and its gospels. Just sitting there makes you want to steal the nearest ironing board and go find a wave. Looking around the well lit room offers a fresh perspective on what E.D. means when he says that now, he’s “diversifying.” A rail of classic vintage surf tees, coupled with their modern, updated, modern counterparts graces one wall, the arresting logo for the Dana Point Surf Club which E.D. designed hangs watchfully above. A flat-file table opposite contains a stash of rich Kodakchrome slides, his treasury of unseen 35mm pictures from the days when his father, Daryl Diamond, drove the Clark Foam delivery truck with Eric riding shotgun and watching the steady incorporation of surf culture into the Californian way of life from the passenger window. E.D. beams as he proudly reveals the Pentax Spotmatic camera all those slides were shot on. Like everything in the office it is in museum-grade mint condition. Besides Eric, the gleaming Pentax Spotmatic is the only other thing which seems to have witnessed as much of the raw beginning of the Cali surf scene as Eric and Daryl Diamond did.
Eric’s father, Daryl, “The Dana Point Dreamboat” as the ladies remember him at the time, scored the gig of a lifetime when he agreed to deliver foam blanks for Gordon Clark in nineteen sixty nine, from the back of the Clark Foam truck. If you fancied yourself as a surfboard shaper back then and you wanted a quality canvas to sculpt a high-performance wave rider from, you either knew Daryl or you were urgently trying to get in touch with him. Daryl, for all intents and purposes, was the de facto So-Cal surf foam sugarman, a veritable foam slinging surf-Santa for the industry, shipping foam up and down the coast to the pockets of surf-hungry counter-culture. Gordon Clark may have run the factory, but The Dreamboat ran the street and many a novice shaper got their start from a simple act of recognition and kindness, a wink and a handshake and the consecration of Clark Foam for the Eucharist of their craft, the perennial, spotless white holy hostia of surfboard creation.
Back in the Clark truck The Stones are on the 8 track, and Let It Bleed is the soundtrack to the PCH delivery life as father and son bounce up and down that famous highway, preaching the foam gospel and delivering their blanks to the early pilgrim fathers and pioneers of the fledgling sport and a soon to be massive industry. It’s no surprise then that by high school E.D. is already trading t-shirt graphics for checks with promising marquee surf brands and, after a serious flirtation with the tour and a solid university education in fine art, Eric is snapped up by Gotcha’s Mike Tomson, E.D.’s spiritual father in surf fashion and full-bore double-barrel introduction to this burgeoning billion dollar surf industry.
Now E.D. is a permanent fixture at Quiksilver and stays that way for fifteen heavyweight-champion-of-the-surf-world years where he is instrumental not only in creating impressive lines of apparel, boardies, t-shirts, you-name-its, but also in establishing some of the important touchstones of modern surf culture in contests like The Eddie. At Quik he designs what is still revered as the best selling pair of boardies in history, a simple hibiscus floral motif in bright, island orange. It’s 1994. Kelly Slater puts E.D.’s orange boardies on and gets some shack time. Strangely, only a handful photographers are in the barrel with him. The picture makes the cover of a magazine. Kaboom. Your boardies are a platium selling record. Work is work is work is work is everywhere: California, Australia, France, home to California, then Hawaii and back again in the other direction. Time zone change. Check out. Call in. Make the flight. Get the bags. Shake the hands. Smile for the baby. Kiss the camera. Grab some blur. It’s all a long lunch. After fifteen big years at Quiksilver it’s on to Billabong, another marquee brand perched atop a roaring rocket and seven busy years in that hive under yet another surf industry legend Paul Naude. It’s faster than fast. It’s like riding atop the head of the burning, bee-stung tiger that is a billion dollar industry which takes absolutely no prisoners and stops for nothing. And it churns and churns like only the monster money machine can. And one bright, clear Californian day of pure clarity, Eric. Diamond. Is. Just. Done.
Done with the whole shooting party.
Done like a dead Disco.
Done. Done. Done.
Because sometimes, done is all you can do.
It’s time to reboot. To refigure what is important and what is not, where your first commitments are and what it is you truly love and why you’re here at all, in this place, trading t-shirt graphics for paychecks.
It’s time to find out what it means to be D-I-V-E-R-S-I-F-I-E-D.
Back in John Severson’s old Surfer magazine office E.D. smiles. He wears the years well and the experiences haven’t left him jaded or bitter, but rather, pleasantly enthusiastic. The old fires are burning again, cleaner and smarter this time, and he has the bearing of a man who is plugged back in but on his own terms, for his own reasons, for his own-diversification.
E.D. is unloading that word for me: Diversified. His focus is mature and acute, just a simple act of bringing it back home to the three things he loves, knows best, and where his great design talent and sharp eye finds its most accurate purchase. The first of these is vintage surf and the heritage of surf culture, which is both a passion of E.D.’s as well as something which is really just living in his bones. It’s simply ED’s story, from days riding shotgun in the Clark Foam truck to epic tours at the front lines of the surf industry worthy of envy E.D. has paid his dues and truly knows his onions. The second point of focus for E.D.’s current work and artistic direction is unquestionably Hawaiiana and the rich, enduring story the islands originated and continue to contribute to surf culture, an essential an deep love of Eric’s. And, finally, E.D. is nothing if not an outdoors man, in the truest sense of grit under the nails and mud on the toe of your shoe, he always seems to be looking for better ways to showcase a brand and connect it with the natural world we are so blessed with here.
It’s one of the principal reasons E.D. is such a fan of SpectraUSA’s broad variety of styles which includes everything from 100% cotton, made in the USA t-shirts, through the enduring bi-blend range, they are built with the outdoorsy, Californian lifestyle and state of mind woven into every stitch.
Eric Diamond’s unusual, and embedded history locks him into the very heart of Californian surf culture and provides him the electrifying know-how and deep understanding which he has of the industry. To be clear, E.D. is an unfettered design talent who has earned his chops over more than twenty years in the industry. He carries it like his flag, his sacred text, his bible. It’s what made him interested in creating events like The Cosmic Creek which he runs with his old confederate, Paul Naude, and his newly emergent brand Vissla each year at Salt Creek beach with a massive vintage quiver; think of it as Orange County’s annual version of Woodstock, without the mud and with surfboards and wetsuits instead of peace, love and kaftans. It’s what compelled him to start the Dana Point Surf Club, not only to give back, but to create some pay-it-forward, to ensure that the surf heritage which is so much a part of where you’re standing, sitting, getting wet right now, isn’t turned into an instantly forgettable visual amuse bouche on the back of a t-shirt. For E.D. “Diversified,” means bringing it all back home, and coming out of your corner swinging with a wealth of history behind you and a bright, welcoming, diversified future ahead.