John Moore aka Juan Mas holds the notable distinction of being one of the first individuals profiled as a Man of the World in our publication. We met him on one of our Passport trips to Venice, CA and he fit all the various criteria we were looking for. He is a thoroughly creative being (he runs his own agency Pencil on Paper), he’s a lifelong surfer, a dedicated traveler and he has a kindred love for collecting vintage items. John Moore was featured in our debut issue, and since this is Surf Week, we decided to reach back around to him to ask some more surf-related questions. Enjoy below.
How old were you when you first started surfing, and when did you know you would be a dedicated surfer for life?
I was hooked from the first time I stepped into the ocean as a child at Zuma Beach. This was before I even had a board in my hands. I remember standing up on my first wave in windblown slop at Seaward Beach in Ventura when I was around 11 years old, but it was the first wave I rode at Malibu a year later that really blew my mind. I’ll never forget that feeling, and try to recreate it every time I surf.
Is Venice your favorite place to surf, or are there other places you’ve surfed that have been just as good or even better?
Venice is a mediocre wave at best, but it’s right out front and I’m usually surfing by myself or with a few friends. Venice has its good days for sure, but when it’s really firing, I’m up the coast in Malibu or Ventura.
What lessons have you learned through surfing that you apply in your day-to-day life and your creative endeavors?
I adopt a relaxed approach to life in or out of the water – I just try to have as much fun in every creative endeavor as I do on each wave. And no matter what happens, there’s always a better wave on the horizon.
Where do you get your surfboards – do you get them custom-made or do you have a go-to shop that carries what you like?
I have so many boards that date as far back as the early 60’s, but generally speaking, I’ll order a custom hand-crafted board from a shaper I respect. Currently, I’m riding boards amazing boards built by Marc Andreini, Tyler Warren, and Manuel Caro.
Tell us a little bit about the brand M.Nii, your affiliation with it, and what it stands for within the surf/beach culture?
My business, the Pencil on Paper Studio owns the M.Nii brand, and for us, it’s the history of the label that sets it apart. M.Nii was a tailor shop on Oahu before there was an actual surfwear industry. So it predates polyester trunks, velcro flies and the business side of surfing. It’s the purest form of aloha, before the industry took over. M.Nii represents a period of time when personal style trumped a corporate logo.
Who are some surfing icons you look up to and have great respect for within the realm of Surf Culture?
There are simply too many to mention them all, but I would have to say some of my biggest influences would be Duke Kahanamoku, Miki Dora, Michael Peterson, Skip Frye, Buttons Kaluhiokalani, Derek Hynd, Gerry Lopez, Martin Potter, Tom Curren, Mark Occhilupo, the Malloy brothers, and Kelly Slater. And watching Dane Reynolds, Tyler Warren and Harrison Roach innovate and recreate surfing daily just blows my mind.
Lastly, are there any cool surf/beach/vintage/heritage related projects you have coming up that you would like to share with our readers?
I’m really focused and excited about building on the foundation we have laid for M.Nii as the arbiters of style and soul in surf culture. Luminaries such as JFK, John Wayne, Peter Lawford, James Arness, Elvis Presley, and Gary Cooper all had custom M.Nii trunks tailored for them when they visited Oahu in the 50’s and 60’s because they respected the pioneering watermen chasing the monster surf of the Hawaiian Islands.
These were the most famous men of their generation, giants of entertainment and politics, but they were inspired by men like Greg Noll surfing Makaha. They brought the M.Nii style back to California and Hollywood and projected it to the world. That mid-century style has been so influential to everything from apparel to cars to architecture and furniture, and I look forward to bringing M.Nii into a modern landscape and making it relevant on and off the beach. And the best part is everything is Made in the USA, true to M.Nii’s bulletproof quality tradition. That’s the coolest part about it.