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Tracks: Tell us a bit about your yourself.

Jose: Yep. Name is Jose Emroca Flores, born in Northern Nevada. Parents are from Mexico. Started drawing as a young baby like everyone else. My mom worked in an office so I remember stealing from the supplies cabinet to make sketchbooks and draw until my mom got off of work. I am actually glad Ipads were not invented or I wouldn't have drawn so much. Started out drawing Snoopy then Superman then evolved to Powell Peralta and Santa Monica Airlines graphics. Caballero and the Natas models were my favourites. Got into a bit of graffiti in high school, then went off to get more serious about art in San Francisco after high school.

Tracks: How do you have a connection with surfing?

I surf pretty much everyday, unless it’s flat, then I just work as much as I can. I try to live as close to the ocean as possible. I like where I live right now. South Oceanside. I have a nice little window of breaks from Trestles to Encinitas area. We have had a pretty fun El Nino season so it has been really hard to focus on art right now. Hahah. I feel like if I did not surf, my art would be way better. But I would be an angry, bitter artist.

I met my wife on a bus in San Francisco while I was going to school, before all the online dating stuff. We actually had to go up to girls and talk to them back then. Go figure. Started to surf around that time and I am glad that I started a little later in life or I would not have ever done anything with my art. I became pretty obsessed with it. It has been a balancing act between my work and surfing ever since. But art pays my bills so sometimes I have to sacrifice some good days.

Tracks: I guess that coincided around the arrival of sharks and surfers in your work?

My favorite time to surf is at dusk. I like that little window where the crowd dies down right before it gets dark. The wind and the colours get nice. Sometimes I get a little spooked out there if I am by myself. I guess painting sharks has been a bit of a coping mechanism when I start to get my senses stirring out there in the dark.


Tracks: Ever been chased in by one of your subjects?

Once. I was at a well-known beach break in Los Angeles and I saw one next to my friend while he was on a wave. The sun was setting so I saw the transparent wave right in front of me and there she was. We were out of there like Benny Hill. They say to paddle away calmly. I don't think I did.

Tracks: Is your work inspired by dreams or nightmares?

Not necessarily, I like to show the other sides of surfing other than the sunny, perfect points of Aloha. Surfing can be scary at times, frustrating, competitive – cold, so I like to add those elements. Sometimes my friends that don't surf think that surfing must be like relaxing meditation or yoga. I guess sometimes it can be. But most of the time it feels like a snake pit out there.

Tracks: Do you look at other artists for inspiration?

I definitely do. Some of my favourites are: Sargent, Toppi, Siqueiros and Leyendecker. I tend to look at a lot of photography and photojournalism for the story telling elements – French animation, Triplets of Bellevue, Iron Giant, The Ant and the Aardvark, Pink Panther, cartoons.


Tracks: What are the tools of your trade?

Pencils on paper, oils, acrylics, digital, mostly.

Tracks: I would love to see ‘Escapar’ or 'Shark tank' as a feature film, is that a dream of yours to see your work on such a scale?

I am actually working on my own graphic novel that I am almost done with: El Monstroca there is definitely a bit of a surfing element in it so it should be out soon. But yes, an animated project is a final goal. I am talking to some animation studios so the wheels are turning on it.

Tracks: What’s next, any exhibitions, shows, a couple of beers – a session out at Blacks?

The past year I have mostly been working on visual development for Call of Duty and an animated movie, and finished up some children's books and art shows. Also just had a kid this year so my head has been spinning. But the projects have been super fun so it does not feel like work.

Definitely beers with friends and some surfs at Blacks is on order! Last time I was down there we had to walk past a guy throwing a football up against the cliff while his wiener was flapping around. Not sure why he had to set up right next to the entrance?

See more at The art of Emroca

Follow Jose on Instagram @emroca