Surf Shacks 073

Scott Trattner
Venice, CA

I first met Scott back in 2006 when we both worked at TBWA\Chiat\Day. At the time, that agency was a culture-shaping hotbed filled with creative talent and Scott was there at the helm working on the Apple account, which soon fell under a different roof of its own called “Media Arts Lab” as the need for secrecy surrounding the Apple brand grew. After his long run at MAL working directly with Steve Jobs and Lee Clow, Scott went on to take a role as the Executive Creative Director at Facebook working directly with Mark Zuckerberg to grow a team of ten to hundreds on the marketing side of the tech giant in its formative years of growth. Now on somewhat of an introspective work hiatus, Scott has since moved back down to Venice and is focusing on personal art projects such as a photography book, ceramics, and even a feature length film concept (while also surfing up and down the coast on his own schedule). His Abbot Kinney adjacent home reflects his considered California upbringing, surrounded by the LA art & design scene and other progressive, forward-thinking west coast influences.

Matt Titone
Matt Titone
Matt Titone

Who are you? Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m Scott. I’m a surfer. I’m the son of Harmony and Magus, idealistic hippies that lived in a school bus. I’m the father of Ever and husband to Sharonne we are an idealistic family living in Venice. I’m a failed artist turned creative director. I’ve spent many years working in tech but I’m not a tech bro.

Where are you from? How long have you lived here in Venice?

I’ve been bouncing between Northern and Southern California my entire life. I was born in Venice in my parents first home on Vernon St. We moved to Marin when my parents divorced. When I was 12 I moved in with my dad in Point Dume. Then back to San Francisco for Art school and back to LA for graduate school. We’ve been living in Venice since 2004. I’m not sure I’ve reached OG status, but I’ve been here for 15 years and we aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Matt Titone
Matt Titone
Matt Ttione
Matt Titone
Matt Titone

You’ve had a very successful career as Executive Creative Director at Media Arts Lab working on Apple and most recently as VP ECD at Facebook. How did you get into advertising and art direction in the first place?

Thanks Matt. At this point in my life I’ve realized almost everything comes back to surfing. I got interested in advertising because I met one of my closest friends, Eric Grunbaum. He was a Creative Director on Apple at the time. We connected over surfing. I taught him the ins and outs of riding waves and he taught me the ins and outs of advertising. It was a time when I really needed someone like that. I’m eternally grateful for his friendship and how he helped me. Oh, also it was a massive amount of luck, timing, and lot’s of really hard work.

What are the projects or campaigns that you are most proud of over the years?

Oh man. That’s a hard one, not because it’s too hard to choose, but more because at this point the things that I’m most proud of aren’t necessarily the campaigns I’ve done. Don’t get me wrong, I’m psyched on the stuff we created over the years, but currently what I’m most proud of is building awesome, diverse and inspired teams. Creating environments for them to do the best work of their careers and eliminating toxic stress and anxiety so it can be fun too.

What was it like working with Steve Jobs?

I worked on Apple for many years before I was invited to the weekly meetings in Cupertino. It was a milestone for me to hear feedback from the source. He was always very clear and focused with his critique. It was never personal when he hated things, but it was common and biting. What made up for that was when he was stoked on something. He would slowly smile, put his feet up on the table and dive in. My creative partner and I had this thing we did under the table… when he was into something we would nudge each other and try not to laugh. It was hysterical. We were like two excited kids sitting in some big Apple boardroom trying to be serious.

What was it like working with Mark Zuckerberg?

Honestly, Mark is fun. Every time we met with him, I always knew there would be some great debate, or challenge or zag in the plan. He’s respectful, generous, thoughtful and always interested in learning something new. He listens and was willing to be wrong, which was refreshing.

Matt Titone
Matt Titone
Matt Titone

You seem to be focused on a lot of personal projects these days with photography, film ideas and ceramics, any plans or goals surrounding these creative endeavors?

My friend Emilian told me to have some pointless stupid goals. That’s what these are. That may sound a little harsh or flippant, but I think the framing is perfect. When you think of things that way, it relieves the pressure of these kinds of pursuits. It’s easy when doing things like this to wonder what it adds up to or where it’s headed… basically, why you are doing them in the first place. I think it’s important to do things that don’t have a commercial or monetary benefit. That’s what these are. It’s how we all start out as creative people and then along the way we get so serious and realistic. Maybe it’s my life stage and some of the personal work I’ve done on myself, but I like not knowing where things are going. It’s more exciting and open that way.

What are your main sources of creative inspiration?

I feel like it changes depending on what I’m working on. I’m currently writing a movie so I’ve been watching a lot of films. It’s changed the way I watch movies actually… I’m way more tuned into the structure of the story, the nuance of performance, and the cinematography. Art remains a constant. I go to galleries and museums quite regularly. With that said, I’ve always looked outside of what I directly do to find inspiration. It helps with my process. I love seeing how ideas are translated through things that I’m far less versed in, like architecture and fashion. On the ceramics front, I’ve been looking at a lot of early modernists like Peter Voulkos.

Matt Titone
Matt Titone
Matt Titone
Matt Titone
Matt Titone

What are your favorite parts about LA and the Venice area in which you live?

LA is a place people come to to make their dreams come true. There are so many dreamers and optimists here. I love that about our city. I feel that energy and it’s inspiring. Venice is incredible. A lot of people that have lived here a long time feel like it’s gotten fucked up. In a way it has, but we still love it. I love that it still feels like a small community in some ways. Surfing the breakwater is cool. It’s usually the same guys and girls surfing there every morning. I ride my bike down Abbot Kinney and run into friends, we eat at the local restaurants and know the waiters. It helps me feel like we belong somewhere. I think we all need that.

How have you seen the area change over the years since you’ve lived here?

When we moved in 2004 from Beachwood Canyon, Abbot Kinney was chill and not nearly the kind of destination it is today. There was a restaurant called Axe on one end of the street and Abbot’s Habit coffee on the other. Axe was like the community meeting spot. Joanna would play surf movies in the backyard in the summer. It was perfect and a way to really get to know your neighbors. We loved it. That’s now shifted to MTN and Gjusta and Travis Lett is doing great things with his food and creating that community vibe. On the challenging side of things, there is a lot of folks that have really been put in a bad place because of the gentrification. It’s a hard thing to watch happen. I see our community getting less diverse and losing what made Venice an awesome free thinking place. The artist moved out a long time ago too. I think a lot of communities go through this change. I try to be open, see all sides and not be overly nostalgic for what was. We still love it and we’re stoked to call it home. But there are issues for sure. Many people complain about the homeless problem. What people don’t remember is we’ve always had a homeless population. There’s a move to build a homeless shelter that the community is not totally supportive of. That bummed me out a bit. Id like to think we can all co-exist here. That’s what makes this place unique.

Matt Titone
Matt Titone
Matt Titone
Matt Titone
Matt Titone
Matt Titone
Matt Titone

What are your favorite parts of your home?

The long scratch on the hardwood floor from dragging a heavy pot with Ever when she was 2.

The step where we carved our names in some fresh cement in 2008.

The part of the driveway where we carved our names in some fresh cement in 2019.

Ever’s growth chart scrawled in pencil and pen over many years.

The wisteria plant that started as a tiny sprout between two deck boards that is now towering and overgrown.

The way the home opens to the street and invites people to say hi as they walk by.

My ceramics studio.

You have a lot of amazing art in your home. If your house was burning down which pieces would you save and why?

I’m practicing not being attached to things… I would grab my daughter, my wife, my dog, me.

Matt Titone

What’s it like being a surfer in LA? What are the pros and the cons?

Let’s start with the good. I love how progressive it is. I surf the Venice breakwater a lot. On any day you can see people riding hulls, finless soft tops, logs, and all manners of modern surf craft. The abilities are strong so there’s always people to get inspired by. Watching Kassia and others surfers at her level stokes me. I love the variation of waves we have too… from the pounding winter beach break at El Porto to the long beautiful point waves at Malibu. There’s a wave for every ability. In 2012 I commissioned a Greenough 17 from Bill Anderson. That changed surfing for me in Southern California. I won’t go into the details but in general it expands the possibilities of what it means to be a surfer in LA.

The challenges or cons are fun to talk about. I think we surfers tend to focus on that more than the good. I spent the last 5 years working in San Francisco, which is an incredible place to live if you surf. The waves and community of surfers are fantastic. I love the community in the Outer Sunset. The drawback is its seasonality. The summer is windy and kinda crappy. It gave me a completely new appreciation for our lovely city and our summer south swells. For me, being a surfer in LA is about a frame of mind as much as anything else. I used to paddle out and get grumpy and competitive. The crowds, the vibes etc. Now I actively try to think about my time in the water as play. I try to have fun and spread aloha. That framing has helped me enjoy it a lot.

What got you into surfing in the first place?

I was living in Marin county and one summer we visited Newport Beach. I was in 4th grade and totally impressionable. I loved skateboarding and did it actively. I saw some people in the water surfing and my mind was blown. One of the kids asked if I wanted to try it. Which was a trip, huh? I stood up on my first wave. I was hooked. It’s been the most amazing gift in my life other than my family.

Matt Titone

Any words of wisdom, or sage advice?

Here’s what I know so far:

Be vulnerable.
Get your ego out of the way.
Cry.
Meditate.
Work on yourself everyday.
Accept the parts of yourself that are fucked up.
Fall in love with a person.
Fall in love with your work.
Rescue a dog.
Go to Paris.
Care for plants.
Play music in your house everyday.
Learn.
Learn.
Learn.

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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, constantly seeks left hand point breaks, and tries very hard to avoid crowds & traffic.

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