Founder + Creative Director: Thembi Hanify
Co-Founder+ Editor-in-Chief: Mariah Ernst

Heidi: You and your business partner launched Emocean in 2021, what makes this different from other surf print media?
Thembi Hanify: Emocean is different from other printed surf media because it’s one of the few that is owned and published by women: myself (creative director) and Mariah (editor in chief). It’s also one of the few surf mags that features a truly diverse range of people. There are a lot of male-dominated mags out there, and then there are a lot of women-only mags out there, so we felt the need to address this underserviced area where surfers of all different genders, backgrounds, and identities could be seen side by side. We also tend to approach the magazine through more of a human-focused or arts-tinged lens, as opposed to a super shreddy, core surf lens. I drew a lot of inspiration from fashion and culture magazines like i-D, The Gentlewoman, and Apartamento in thinking this up.

Will this themed quarterly magazine always centered around emotion? (Issue 01 Joy, 02 Rage 03 Connection 04 and 05 Fear?
The mag is published twice a year, and yes we will continue to have each issue center around an emotional theme. Spoiler alert: the theme of Issue 06 is ‘love.’

You both have full-time jobs that intersect fashion, culture, and surf.
Why this labor of love for a print project? (which is not dead BTW)

I have always loved print since I was very very young. Big beautiful coffee table books, monthly mag subscriptions, you name it. In today’s environment, we’re bombarded with so many fragments of digital information online that I find it incredibly hard to really absorb any of it. Reading things online generally makes me feel scattered and on-edge. I find that reading a physical, printed object cultivates presence and allows me to slow down and truly pay attention. You really can’t beat that feeling. Also I love the smell of print hahaha. In terms of values, Emocean encompasses the core values that are most important to me—diverse perspectives, relatability, empowerment, and creativity. It feels like these values are much needed in pushing mainstream surf culture forward, so I’m very passionate about what the magazine has to offer.

The Fear cover features a soulful tight portrait of Mario, the co-founder of @un.mar.de.colores. The cover breaks a historical tenant of portraiture: it lacks reciprocal eye contact but rather celebrates a co-existence. Was that a specific photo direction or did it unfold naturally?
Gala Slater (creative director of the shoot): Well it was really a combination of both things, a carefully planned portrait that I had envisioned using natural debris from the beach that we would find on the day, but the idea was always to have him looking direct camera. I felt drawn to each object we placed over his face, and as he lay there with his eyes closed while we were carefully arranging them, I felt a moment of calm and peace that led us to choose that moment to capture, eyes closed.

Thembi Hanify: As soon as I saw the image I knew it would be an amazing cover. We hadn’t pre-planned that, but it was such a captivating image. The sense of ease and harmony the image gives off represents the flip-side of the coin so to speak of fear. I think with surfing, the goal sometimes is to harness the fear you feel into a harmonious kind of focus that allows you to be very present and zen-like.

I loved the intention behind the styling Un Mar De Colores, which translates to an ocean of colors. The styling team created pieces from found beach waste, thrifted items, and leftover materials from previous projects. What was the premise of the feature on Mario?
Gala Slater: The goal of the feature on Mario was not only to share the story of a person who is doing such incredible work within the surf community and to share his warm soul with the audience but to also visually represent him in a way that he hadn’t been seen before. Mario had done shoots before for some of the bigger outdoors brands and I felt like I wanted to do something less expected, something more artful that married his beautiful exterior to the earth. It felt off to dress him in traditional ‘fashion’ and so I challenged Heather and Logan (both stylists & makers) to see what they could accomplish by using found/discarded materials to make custom pieces for Mario. These materials included metals, rubber, shells, plastic, fabrics, yarn, and more. The results were beautiful and combined with the beach as a backdrop the photos turned out better than I could have imagined.  

How do photographers and writers get in touch with you?
We are always open for submissions! People can email us at info@emocean.surf to submit their work for consideration in upcoming issues.

Where can we pick up a copy?
You can order a copy of the mag and our special edition merch range on our website. We also have a bunch of stockists across America, and a few international ones in Europe, Indonesia, and Australia.

Now that you’re almost 3 years old, what surprised you the most about this project and your creative growth?
I suppose it’s not a huge surprise per se, but the thing we’ve relished the most is the incredible network of people we’ve become connected with through publishing Emocean. I really see this magazine as a vessel for telling other people’s stories, and were truly honored to be able to do that. Community is everything, and the community we’ve encountered and become a part of throughout this journey of independent publishing has been the most wonderful and invaluable thing of all.
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