The Soul Project believes in the power of place, which is something I love about this OC-based apparel art tee project. Places are people, too, at least that’s what I think whenever I turn up in my short list of neighborhoods, beaches and wide-spots-in-the-road. Soul Project was started by Summer and Don Meek of Laguna Beach in August 2011, who carefully select artists to work with based on location. For example, Julie Goldstein is a resident of North County San Diego, an artist who works in colorful woodcut prints, and represents Encinitas-Leucadia-Cardiff as a soul place. I had a chance to ask Summer about the new things from Julie and who else she has her eye on in Orange County right now.
Dana: How will Julie Goldstein’s work translate onto Soul Project apparel?
Summer: My partner [Don] and I have admired Julie’s work since we saw it in the window of a gallery here in Laguna Beach a few years back. It was clear that Julie has a truly authentic vision for women at play in nature, and what she does lines up perfectly with our vision for the Soul Project. When we began conceptualizing our brand she was one of the first artists we really wanted to work with. We love her aesthetic and the Wabi-sabi feel of her work. The other super cool thing about Julie is that she walks the talk. All of the images that you see are either autobiographical or are direct representations of her friends. She has a passion for the ocean and a passion for life that comes through loud and clear, and we feel so honored that she is part of the Soul Project program.
DN: The Soul Project just turned one year old. What have been the coolest moments in the last 12 months?
SM: We had key one-year milestones that we felt were critical to our success: getting into five key retailers — done!, getting reorders — done!, getting solid press coverage — done! But I think the one that was the coolest was when we saw someone we didn’t know rocking our tee shirt and hat. There’s nothing quite like the first time that happens, and you realize that somebody likes what you’re doing enough to actually buy your stuff. All that said, the most meaningful accomplishment has been making donations to our partner charities. And now that we’ve just filled our largest order to date (thank you Swell.com!), we will be able to make even bigger donations, which feels really good. [Soul Project donates $1 of each sale to kids and environmental charities in “soul place” locations].
DN: Who are some of the people you feel are shaping the path for art in Orange County these days?
SM: In addition to the work Ben Brough has done for the Soul Project, he continues to turn out amazing art. We also love what Michael Quinones is doing at WAAR. We are privileged to have been exposed to a number of Laguna Beach High School and Laguna College of Art and Design artists that are turning out incredible stuff. On the photography front, we recently attended the Follow the Light Foundation’s annual award ceremony and we fell in love with the work of the winner Shawn Parkin — we think he has an amazing future ahead of him.
Oct. 6-7, 2012, 10am-4pm
Boardroom International Surfboard Show
Del Mar Fairgrounds
Gun Club Lounge
2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd., Del Mar, Ca. 92014