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Visiting Slightly Choppy

Text: David Kenji Chang


Artist and designer Scott Richards, a Detroit-native who has lived and surfed in California for over thirty years, calls himself Slightly Choppy – a reference to both the ocean and his self-proclaimed unsteady painting hand. “It’s all somewhat off,” he jokes. 

And, it turns out, imperfectly perfect for the surf-themed flags he’s become known for: hand-made with his playfully painted throwback lettering or die-cut felt text applied to stitched canvas, all finished with tea-stained twill tape. They’re a sunny curiosity with easy appeal – approximating archival vintage in look and feel, but entirely modern and of his own invention. 

I visited Scott’s studio, where his product is designed and produced, on a bright morning on Newport Beach’s Balboa Peninsula. The space is crowded with considerable charm. A wall displaying his flags blends into the room’s artful curation: beach cruisers and surfboards. Old surf trophies and beach signs. Found objects and books. A growing collection of wooden toy boats. 

Scott shared binders filled with tidy concept drawings and stencils. Slightly Choppy’s range is slowly swelling, with a Hawaii collection, apparel made from embellished vintage blanks, and sample designs for home decor. “It’s really working,” he says. “I pinch myself every day.”

David Kenji Chang is a writer and comedian who currently lives and works in New York and Southern California. 

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