When we visited Isolated Surfboards’ HQ to chat with owner and founder Cullen O’Hara – we walked in on every boy’s dream work space. We’re talking a loft with three separate rooms filled with power tools and half-finished surfboards, as well as a drum kit that sits slap bang in the middle of (wait for it…) a half pipe. Yep. Inside. And if the décor was decided upon in order keep the creative juices flowing, it’s clearly working, as the boards Cullen produces really are works of art (employers, take note, 20 minutes drumming and skating might just be the answer to any output woes you might have).
And so it seemed that Cullen was next in line to prove exactly how creative and entrepreneurial Bermuda is…
What started you on the path to Isolated Surfboards?
I was born in Bermuda but I also have lots of family in California, so I’ve been by the water most of my life. My grandma used to live next to a surf shop in California, and I lived on a part of Bermuda that had the most consistent waves, so I guess it was meant to be. Isolated Surfboards started in 2009 officially, but I’ve been doing glassing and boards since the 90’s and it felt like a natural progression.
What inspires your artwork?
With the art – I just go with what I’m feeling. I always try to be unique and get inspiration from different people and styles. The cool thing about boards is that there’s so many ways to apply art. You can add it to the lamination so that its part of the structure or you can airbrush and go freehand. This variety ensures I keep experimenting.
And what is it that you love so much about surfing?
When you take into account everything that goes with surfing, setting up your kit, checking for the waves, the actual surfing part doesn’t take up that much time at all. But those seconds when you’re actually riding a wave, they’re good enough to keep going back for more and validate all the effort you make. The water is great in Bermuda, so warm and blue. There’s nothing quite like it.
How would you describe life in Bermuda?
Life in Bermuda is totally laidback. Seriously, when you say Wednesday, you really mean Friday. It’s a small community here so people are friendly and say hi. You can strike up a chat with anyone, which only adds to the slow pace of life because we’re always stuck on street corners caught up in conversation!
What’s the future for Isolated Surfboards?
Well the shop here is soon to open, and we’re going to make the most of this space to also try to consolidate the artistic/alternative community here. We want music lovers, skaters and surfers to come together for live music and events here. When I was growing up there was no centralized hub, no outlet to hang out with likeminded people. I want to be able to bring people together.