Words and photos by Ian Foulke
Pat, Dane, and Tanner Gudauskas are many things. They are twins, brothers, best friends, competitors, artists, musicians, and surfers. Their positive attitude and approach to life is often as congratulated as the accolades they receive from the sport of surfing. Their positive effect is an accomplishment few can claim and many look up to. From first glance, it may seem they are cut from the same cloth as your Hollywood surfer stereotype. But, get a little closer and see that each particle of their being is as authentic as the salt in the sea. They find inspiration everywhere and use every medium to create.
Electric California, the premium eyewear, lifestyle, and accessory brand, partnered with the three brothers in 2013 as surf and lifestyle ambassadors. More recently, years of travel and eyewear inspiration boiled to the surface. So, the three brothers worked with Electric to create a three-frame capsule experience called, “The Triple Positive.” The Swingarm, Huxley, and Bengal will be launching in their three distinct design and color stories and available in succession in the Spring of 2014. Read about their journey, inspiration, and collaboration with Electric California as discussed over a morning coffee, Lowe’s run, and a heavy garage re-arrange.
TG: I’ll give you my name so you know it is my voice when you listen to it. Tanner Gudauskas, age 25. Birthday: 4th of July 1988.
That is a great birthday. A true Patriot. Dane, you want to get your general stats down?
DG: Dane Gudauskas. 28…. (pauses) (remembers) November…20th, 1985.
Ha ha, glad you remember your birthday.
TG: Pat has the same birthday (Tanner says sarcastically) so it makes it easy.
Good to have a back-up plan in case you forget. Talking about the frames, it’s obvious they came from different planets of stoke. Can you talk about the styling of your frame The Huxley.
DG: Yeah, mine … I was fully … I used to wear this old pair of glasses that my mom gave me that she had worn back when she was a grom. They came in this super classic, old case. It was these tiny little wire frames, not quite John Lennon-y weird, like little circles, but just a weird shape. Just little nugs on your eyes. I was fired up by that feeling. When you pull them out of the case you feel that experience. And when they are on you are sharing that experience with everyone you come in contact with. So, I was looking to create that same energy with a little wire frame. Not quite John Lennon, but circular with a retro throwback kinda of feeling. Almost a planetarium feeling. Cosmic. With the Huxleys, you get that free experience.
PG: 3 styles of stoke … I feel like the 3 of us have unique styles from each other and the more you get to know us, the more our influences are reflected in our style. Dane is such a vibrant energy and in his art, his surfing, his music, I feel like his energy is electric. It’s colorful and resonating. I feel like he has such a wide range of influences, but when I think of his shades I think of his inspiration from Sun Ra and John Lennon. Very vibrant and free spirited. It’s seeing the world through Dane’s vibe.
People say glasses are windows for your eyes, but you could almost say they are windows for others into your world, with that experience you are talking about.
DG: Yeah, I feel like when people look at you when you are wearing them, they are feeling the same thing. It’s a powerful sharing experience. You can’t express yourself more than wearing something on your face. So, with these it’s a full freedom expression session.
That’s cool! And Tanner, your frame is a completely different styling from Dane’s. What is the Swingarm all about?
TG: Well, it was cool when when we went into Electric because Dane brought the wire frames he is talking about that our mom had and Pat brought in these pair we bought in Portugal that reminded him of this pair that our Uncle Buzz had. But I didn’t have anything! I had more of an idea, something simple and understated. I was just so stoked on the feeling of the sunglasses being low-profile. Good quality with lower profile than Danes. They reacted positively to that and we started working. When they showed me the Swingarm frame, it was just perfect. Exactly what I wanted. Something anyone can put on.
Almost the man man’s frame?
TG: Haha, yea, exactly. And the colorway was perfect too. My mom has always collected beach glass from the beaches we surfed at. So we have always had beach glass at the house and all around. I was thinking about colors for my frame and I saw some sea glass in my room. It has that pop but also has the feeling that of being worn in. I think the green and the white look super sick.
PG: For myself, my glasses came from a combination of discoveries on the road. One pair of glasses my brother Tanner and I found in this street market in Portugal while on a surfing trip. It looked like an antique small bifocal type of glasses with a cracked lens. We called them the Harry Potter shades, and bought them for 5 dollars. They had a sophisticated yet simple feel to them. We mixed those with the feel from these shades I collected in various pharmacy stores across our Australia road trips … We would have big nights out or long surf days and you’d loose your shades or be hungover or whatever, and these floral print shades for 5 dollars kept solving those problems. Simple, fun, and easy to wear and have a good day. You felt “classic” in them. Try to have a bad day in those floral printed shades, you couldn’t! So I guess those were my inspirations in both remembering those trips and showcasing windows to my stoke.
Dane, how would you describe the creative process? How do you get to the final product like the Triple Positive capsule?
DG: It’s a super rad experience. You have ideas in your head and frames for inspiration. You write everything down and share it with the creative team. Guys like Kip Arnette and Josh Hartley from Electric were super receptive to our ideas, which was rad. There is nothing more frustrating than going to a brand and getting shut down. Working with Electric on the Triple Positive Capsule was cool because from the start we worked on everything from the art, to the the feeling, to the packaging. It is so fun to see it all come together.
TG: The sickest part about working with those guys. It’s so rad when you take an idea to a brand and they have the creative ability to take your idea and make it bigger than you thought it could be. The first time I saw the shades I was so blown away. Wow. Damn. These guys are masters. It’s a killer combination of Electric and us. Good synergy.
I imagine not riding for an eyewear company the last years helped open your mind and see things differently. Probably because you got to wear so many different frames.
DG: That was our whole thing. Riding for an eyewear company wasn’t even on our radar. We were having so much fun collecting all sorts of weird crazy stuff. And thats what we would wear all the time. We never had an eyewear brand to work with like Electric. We had a wealth of inspiration. We would find the weirdest funky glasses in our closets. Haha. It was so rad that Electric was open minded enough to make a fun collection with us. When I think of it, The Triple Positive, I think, “Let’s have fun with this!” Live life in a positive direction and express that in any way. My frame is a little more loud and Tanner’s is a little more subtle. But in every direction, it’s reflective of good things.
TG: That’s the cool thing about the Triple Positive. Yea, we are stoked and positive but there are all kinds of positivity. The three of us, our personalities coming together shows you can get stoked on anything.
I look at the Huxley, Dane’s shade, as a throwback to the ’60s. Free love and good vibes. But, I look at Tanner’s which doesn’t quite have the visual throwback, but the finishing reminds me of picking up sea glass on the beach and that feels positive to me too.
DG: Exactly, and they all come from a tangible source of inspiration. I feel like its super authentic. This is all a result of being on the road for the last 8 years.
TG: Just being creatures!
DG. Full Lochness monsters. Ha!
You guys listen and play music on the daily. What artists inspire you to create art? Dane is into Sun Ra and has spoken about that before … Tanner do you want to touch on what inspires you?
TG: Yeah, for me, a huge inspiration has always been Ozzie Wright. I love how he is always creating. In all the different artistic outlets and avenues. I think that is insane. His music is really uplifting and rad so I psych on that. It’s cool because music creates an energy and a vibe. But when it comes to vinyl and we are starting our day out, it can go anywhere. We have been listening to these Lithuanian vinyls our grandmother gave us. It’s totally off the wall and they are almost Mozart-esque. I think mixing it up is important. But always wanting to listen to music.
PG: Lots of jams! I love all sorts of music … Nick Drake, Vince Guaraldi, M. Ward, Led Zeppelin, Jack White, the Black Keys, Pink Floyd, Bob Marley and the Wailers, Buena Vista Social Club, Arcade Fire, Bon Iver … I don’t know, I like it all, anything that tells a story or evokes emotion, which is pretty much all music.
DG: It’s like watching different surfers. You can find inspiration from any genre. It teaches you to stay open minded. I have been psyching on Sun Ra.
But that has been for a couple of years though right?
DG: Yea, ever since I took the ‘History of Jazz’ class when I was 19. It was so sick. Who the hell was this Sun Ra guy? He was just rolling around Oakland and teaching a class at Berkley, I think, called ‘Black Man in the Cosmos.’ I found some of his recordings. He believed he was more free in the cosmos and rolled around dressed like an Egyptian. There is a good history around his artwork too. I think that kind of stuff is rad. Weird colors and crazy stuff.
TG: I have been stoked on YouTube as well. Jimi Hendrix, a lot. I like looking up interviews of the guys. It’s trippy how they talk and interact compared to how they are on stage or how their music is.
I imagine they are more introverted in person than they are on stage. At some point, it must be a little bit of an act. You see Kelly Slater get blown out of a tube and he seems to be bigger than life. Then you see him in person and he is in and out of the shadows. Pretty mellow.
TG: It’s like the spotlight hits their instrument, their guitar or for Kelly it seems like it hits his boards too. It’s their tool, allowing them to be there, but also they are SUCH nice humans. It’s like they have found a level of zen master. They are so humble, like most of the greatest are.
Dane, what does the Triple Positive mean beyond the frames? Is it a lifestyle?
DG: I think is … everything. You live your life and it feels good to feel good. It’s about sharing the stoke. I feel like it is the universal language and a human connector. It’s the feeling that gets us excited today. We surf to have fun and fun when we surf. It’s an easy correlation to remain positive and call it our lifestyle. It made sense to reflect it in glasses with Electric.You can’t put on the Huxleys and NOT have the most bad-ass, killer day. When you are wearing them people are going to know you are ready to rock ‘n’ roll. Ha ha. And same with the other frames. They are reflective of each one of our spirits.
PG: Triple Positive is our way of life. It’s the opportunity to see the world through a positive filter, to take the high road instead of the negative one and have a ton of fun experiencing different adventures and things.
Kip Arnette is such a guru in the eyewear creation and craftsman space. Did you feel inspired? What was your relationship with Kip on this collection to bring the Triple Positive to life?
PG: These guys rule! So psyched to have had the opportunity to create with them the vision we had, which became Triple Positive. Kip’s ability to create our different visions from ideas to reality in the creation of the 3 shades was humbling. The creative environment with both of them allowed us to make a product we believe in.
DG: It was so funny. I had met Kip a long, long time ago but couldn’t remember his face, specifically. I was at Electric working with Josh, one of the rad designers, and this guy comes in and starts hyping up our designs. He started talking about these finite details on the frames and lenses and I am thinking to myself, “This guy must know a thing or two about sunglasses.” And then it dawned on me, “Holy shit! This is Kip Arnette!” and he is micro-analyzing my frames! He had an unbelievable understanding of minute details. His entire family has lived for sunglasses for generations now. To work with someone who has his level of inspiration is all time.
It must have been so cool to have a guy like Kip heavily involved in your personal collection of shades. From the macro, it seems like people see you guys as the same – same but different. Because they only know how you look and haven’t been able to interact with you one on one. How would you consider yourself an individual in the tribe?
DG: We are super close, best friends. But at the same time super unique. If we spend too much time together we start to butt heads.
TG: A good example would be that I brush my teeth with my left hand and Pat brushes his with his right hand. Nobody would know that! (Laughs sarcastically.) I think it is a cool opportunity for us as brothers to have people see us through our shades. We always hang together, but we do get on each others nerves. We have different styles, opinions, or feng shui in life.
So what do you do to break away at times? I have seen you run off to a camera shop or get film developed. What is your never-never land when you need a break?
TG: I don’t necessarily need breaks because we enjoy the majority of things we do together. Its like having friends that are into different things but hang out all the time. I don’t need a time out that often. Haha.
When was the last time you did have a time out? Haha.
TG: Well, I had a Thai massage the other day for an hour … solo. A deep solo sesh.
All time. Let’s wrap this up. Use one word to describe each other to create the Triple Positive circle. Dane for Tanner, Tanner to Pat, and Pat back to Dane.
DG: Tanner reminds me of that guy from the Lord of the Rings. What’s his name …
DG: No, the main guy Aragon. Yeah, Aragon.
TG: Sick …
That is a big call up!
TG: Patrick … Patty-cakes?
PG: Dane …Vibrant
Suitable for Dane! Thanks for your time boys. Congrats on creating a unique capsule of sunglasses with a authentically cool story behind each one. Best of luck on the road this year.