Surf Shacks 069

Charles Adler
Long Beach, CA

Matt Titone

Charles Adler is a veteran creative swiss army knife in the surf industry. His credentials over the years have ranged from art director, production & retail designer, and in-house historian at Quiksilver, to professional art curator and installer, to freelance graphic designer. Charles has a keen eye for spotting great work that is both authentic and timeless. As you can clearly see from the photos below, he is so passionate about curating surf art and relics that Charles has taken a lot of his “work” home. Walking into his Long Beach townhouse is like entering an unassuming Hobit hole that is in fact a legit surf culture museum, which also resembles someone’s residence. His collection of vintage logs is pretty uncanny and every board has a story. I have been meaning to shoot Charles’ home for some time, but we finally made it happen when he recently told me he was moving after living there more than twenty years. In that time, he had accumulated so much art, boards and surf ephemera, his walls were literally layered with history. Just thinking about what all probably went into his moving process gives me serious anxiety.

Matt Titone
Matt Titone
Matt Titone

Who are you? Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m a Pacific Northwest kid that migrated south and just kinda lucked out. I’m a part time designer / illustrator / curator. I have been able to stay creative in several facets of my life, which has always been important to me and I guess with a large majority of my career centering around the surf, skate and art culture, I stay constantly inspired and get to stay active at the same time.

You seem to have a lot of jobs and wear a lot of hats. What do you do for a living?

At the moment, I have a lot of different roles, but the diversity is what’s so fun and keeps me going. I recently started working for myself. I’m running a little pop-up gallery in Huntington Beach, doing freelance design work, some consulting and installing a ton of great art.

I was at Quiksilver & Roxy for 13 years and held a variety of positions between both brands, my most fun times were probably the early Roxy days, then later running the skateboard art program and returning once again as an Art Director, but moving into the role of Company Historian and Curator was a dream.

What are some of your favorite projects that you’ve worked on?

Here are my top three:

I’d have to say “The Happening” was one of my favorites. it was the evolution of “The Moonshine Festival” and it was a great crew; Will Pennartz (the Surf Gallery), Emmett Malloy (Brushfire Records) and Chris Malloy (Woodshed Films). It was an amazing surf/beach culture show that started in Laguna Beach, California, we did a couple events in the canyon, then took it to OCMA, but then we got the sponsorship to take it to New York. The show we did in NY between MILK and the HIRO ballroom was a game changer! We got a couple new sponsors that really saw the value in what we were doing and the next thing you know, we’re doing shows through Australia, Japan, France and England. we posted up at a variety of venues with a ton of amazing work from artists like Andy Davis, Wolfgang Bloch, Jeff Canham and Alex Knost, live Music from Jack Johnson, G-Love, Mason Jennings and Matt Costa and we showed films from Sea Sheppard and Thomas Campbell, to 180° South and the White Stripes, Under The Great White Northern Lights.

“Hottest Hundred Yards,” the history of Echo Beach show that I curated with Randy Hild at Partners and Spade in New York.

And the South Bay Art, Film and Music Festival. I had close to 50 artists, we showed a ton of amazing new movies and we awarded Bruce Brown the first Action Sports Pioneer Award. It was one of my biggest honors ever!

Matt Titone
Matt Titone

What have been the pros and cons of working in the surf industry over the years?

The amazing connections I’ve made across the globe and the people I get to now call friends. Getting paid to travel and surf all over the world and put on great events that have stoked out a lot of people. Not to mention our Quiksilver office proximity to the beach allowing for surf before work, during lunch and sometimes after work depending on the winds.

I came in towards the end of the “heyday era,” but I’ve still seen the industry change a lot over the years. There are still brands out there doing great things — and as big as it may seem at times, so many of todays companies are offshoots and employees of other companies. At the end of the day, we’re all one extended family.

Where are you from? How long have you lived here in Long Beach and what drew you to the area in the first place?

I grew up in Washington State. My dad still lives on the farm that I grew up on and I still have a little beach house in Gig Harbor that I bought years and years ago thinking I’d move back some day.

I’ve been in the same spot in Long Beach for almost 20 years now (that just seems crazy)! I was living in Seal Beach at the time, one of my designers was moving and said I should come check out his place. I instantly fell in love with the charm of the 20’s Spanish style architecture. It was a lot of work fixing it up and it will be a sad day when I close this door for the last time.

Growing up in the PNW, how did you first get into surfing?

My first intro was in 1984. I was visiting family in Arizona and they decided to take a road trip to California. My cousin got me on a board and I will never forget that trip. I returned in ’88 with my mom and little brother and we drove almost the entire California coastline. I was already hooked and bought my first board at Marin Surf & Sport, a 6’4 Pearson Arrow. That summer I also turned 16, had already bought a car and the rest was history. We’d pile into my (or anyones) car and drive all over the Washington and Oregon coasts looking for surf. Back then, a lot of times we were the only guys out. (HA! now I sound like one of “those”guys)

Matt Titone
Matt Titone
Matt Titone

How did you get started collecting vintage boards?

When I started, they were “affordable first boards.” I liked riding a lot of vintage boards, I loved the weight, the nimbleness of some and the drive of others. I kept a lot of the ones I liked, and a few of the odds and ends that just stuck out. I just wish some of them could tell me their story.

Do you ride them all?

Most of them. I try to ride them all at least a couple times, that lets me really know how I feel about the board, if I’ll keep it, or just ride it for a bit. Others are automatically in. There’s only a few in the stack I haven’t ridden.

How many do you have these days?

I’ve got a few, some sprinkled here and there (Editor’s note: “a few” translates to over fifty boards counted while shooting). At one time it was a little ridiculous, but I’ve been selling some lately.

Matt Titone

What are your top five favorite boards and why?

Only five?

6’4 Pearson Arrow, my first board, it doesn’t see the water anymore, but when I look at it, I can’t help but smile.

1967 10’ Harbour “Banana Special” (Banana Lam on a modified Trestle Special template) shaped by the late Mike “Red” Marshall

10’2 Weber “Stylist” it’s a board I just love, given to me by an old friend, it works in a variety of waves and catches everything.

10’4 Takayama “Jacobs 60’s model” the last board Donald shaped me before he passed and a screamer on big days.

1966 / 67, 9’6 Hobie Corky Carroll (paisley fabric deck). Corky’s personal board from the islands. I have a weakness for vintage paisleys and fabrics.

And one more for good measure:

10’ Renny Yater spoon, wooden nose and tail block, with a full deck of John Severson watercolor wave collage fabric. I have some of Johns art too, he was a very special guy.

Matt Titone
Matt Titone
Matt Titone

What are your favorite parts about Long Beach and the area in which you live?

I love the oil and aviation history of Long Beach, but it’s also rich in its surfing history. From its once endless San-O-like wave before the breakwater. You’d also be surprised how many surfers and culture contributors have come out of Long Beach, not to mention it’s once San O-like endless wave before the breakwater. It has a great little airport (but the secret’s out now).

Any specific local haunts?

Beachwood BBQ, Joe Jost’s, the Pike bar, Alex’s bar, Casa Sanchez.

What are your favorite parts of your home?

I really enjoy almost every part of my house, maybe the kitchen and dining area, or my drawing room area… Although the garage is pretty fun too.

Matt Titone
Matt Titone
Matt Titone
Matt Titone
Matt Titone

What projects are you working on these days?

I’ve got a few. I have a pop-up gallery in Huntington Beach right now. Currently there is a group show of 17 artists and the show is called “The Californians.” I have some other shows I’m working on for the gallery as well, plus a little project for Sustainable Surf. Besides that, I’m working on a big aviation buildout by the Long Beach airport at the new LBX center, a few small design and consulting jobs, but I think I’m most excited about the show I’m putting together for Harbour Surfboards’ 60th anniversary.

Any parting thoughts, words of wisdom, or sage advice?

Man, I’d just say make the most of every day and let the people you appreciate, know it.

Discover more creative surfers’ homes in our book, “Surf Shacks®”


Matt Titone

A goofy-footed graphic designer who hails from the first state, Delaware. After attending Flagler College in St. Augustine, FL then graduating from SCAD in Savannah, GA with a BFA in Graphic Design and Illustration, Matt moved to NYC and found work as a freelance designer and art director. In 2006 he moved west to Venice, CA where he co-founded ITAL/C Studio and now resides a bit further north in Oxnard.

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