Surf Shacks 025 – Brian Bent

Catching a glimpse of Brian is like being hit by a bolt of lightning, you’re left feeling like ‘what was that….?’ He has that affect when you see him zip by in the water on one of his ‘kook box’ boards or on land zooming past in one of his home made speedster cars. Whatever he’s doing at the moment, he is always stoked to be doing it. His lust for life is contagious and it beams out of him whether through painting, surfing, music, or simple conversation. He’s a sponsored by Stance, has his own pair of shades from Creed Sunglasses, his own towel from Beech Brand – what’s next? His own action figure line?

Catching a glimpse of Brian is like being hit by a bolt of lightning, you’re left feeling like ‘what was that….?’ He has that affect when you see him zip by in the water on one of his ‘kook box’ boards or on land zooming past in one of his home made speedster cars. Whatever he’s doing at the moment, he is always stoked to be doing it. His lust for life is contagious and it beams out of him whether through painting, surfing, music, or simple conversation. He’s a sponsored by Stance, has his own pair of shades from Creed Sunglasses, his own towel from Beech Brand – what’s next? His own action figure line?

Who are you? Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Brian Bent and I love to move and live life. 

Where are you from?

I was born in Inglewood, California. My mom and uncles were from Redondo Beach and we would go there and Hermosa Beach to hang out by the ocean when I was young.

How did you first get into art?

My first introduction to art was through my uncles. My uncle Rocky became a pro surfer and was into art, painting murals on his bedroom walls. He would draw lots of waves. He inspired me to do the same and started drawing Don Martin cartoons out of Mad Magazine.

What is your favorite part about the area you live in?

I live in San Juan Capistrano in Southern California.  I’m blessed to be at the mouth of the Ortega Highway. I love to take the old speedsters out there and drive the winding road. The beaches are just a short drive from me, San Onofre is my spot.

Your house looks amazing. How did you find it and how long have you been there?

An old neighbor of ours told us about a house for sale in a housing tract built in the 50’s. My wife and I have liked the 50’s aesthetic for a long time. We had collected lots of 50’s furniture together and the house seemed like a great fit.

What are your favorite parts of your home?

My favorite part is an angle in the living room that jets out of the entry hall into the living room. I also like the view of the pool in the backyard from the house. The backyard and pool have been great for entertaining over the years and for our kids growing up.

Who are your style icons and why?

The first one that comes to mind is Marlon Brando. The Wild One! But he still had a bit of a compassion… I just like the simple cuff jeans, t-shirt, leather jacket. That’s my most comfortable outfit. My grandfather had big cuff jeans and wore tight shirts showcasing his big arms. He welded, worked in concrete and built hotrods in the 40’s. He was a classic working guy wearing classic work wear. He could make something out of nothing! I also like Coco Chanel. The early pieces she made are a big inspiration.

Tell us about the kook boxes that you build. What’s the history behind that style and what made you want to build and surf them?

One day my buddy, JJ Wessels, brought a kookbox down to San Onofre and I just said ‘wow… It’s a 30’s style surfboard!’ I couldn’t wait to try to surf it because I was into the 30’s style at that time. The more we surfed them the more I dug them. I started making a few different variations. The ones I made were around 40 to maybe 60 lbs. The thing that keeps me on them is the nostalgic trim on the wave. They go super fast on a shoulder high wave and you have to be tactical when riding them. I nicknamed them ‘square railed wave dragsters’.

When did you start building those hand-built hot rods?

I started building my first hot rod around 2004. My buddy John and a couple friends from the ACES car club showed me the basics. I met them going to the ‘Hot Rod Church for Sinners’ which was a non-denominational church at a pizza restaurant and bar my buddy and his father owned. Someone said we should build a mascot for the church and the next thing I knew that’s what we did. Then I started building another one. Soon after that wanted to build one in an older style fashion because I loved the simplicity, style, and overall coolness of them.

Where does the process start? How do you decide what you’re going to build and how?

I get inspired to build a car from an idea like wanting to drag race a bi-plane like they did in the 1910’s. Two years ago I was talking to Nick Clements of Men’s File Magazine and he said he would come out from England and photograph the process. My buddy JJ Wessels and I built the car and we did it, drag racing the bi-plane I mean. JJ knew a pilot and we set up the race at some salt flats out in the California desert. So yeah, it’s usually from an inspiration and idea… you have to start to build something this way from the ground up you and build a certain way for it to work and make sense. And you can add inspiration as you go. I usually look into learning how to do something to do it, then learn and go for it, but it’s usually what I like to do and that’s: art, music, and cars.

How do you get them street legal?

I made friends with my local DMV.

Do you have a favorite hot rod that you’ve built?

The model A ford with the four cylinder engine is my go to car right now. It’s a lot of fun! Tons of torque and bumpy, but drives fun and solid. Top speed is about 55 mph. I dig hopping into it and driving to town or out on the Ortega Highway.

You do it all: painter, sculptor, surfer, builder of boards and cars, musician, father. Is there anything you haven’t done yet that you’ve been wanting to?

I would have maybe liked to sing Opera… I think their voices are so rad! Pure beauty.

What do you want to be known for with your body of work?

I would want to be known for as a person that lived a life I was given and that I really am glad for all my years. I always go over all my years, beginning with early 20’s and I’m thankfull for all my days and I’m so thankful I get to live eternally with my loved ones as well and I hope people know the joy of the loving Jesus and our father God and the encouragement and peace of his Holy Spirit.

Any upcoming projects you are excited about?

I’m looking forward to traveling to record music soon over seas.

Check out Brian’s Insta feed here:

@brian_bent

/ Photography and interview by Paul Collins

Check out more Surf Shacks here.

Paul Collins

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