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Interviews February 6, 2024February 20th, 2024

In Conversation with Ford Archbold

Words by Robin Pailler | Photography by Jordan Larson & Robin Pailler

This interview was originally published in Volume XIII, December 2023.


It was 10:14 on a Wednesday morning as I drove through Costa Mesa to meet my dear friend Nolan Hall for coffee. As I follow the pin to a parking lot of sorts, I find myself driving past an open workshop and spot a very recognisable face working away, screen printing tees.

With no caffeine in my bloodstream yet, my brain scrambled to connect the dots. After what felt like an eternity of me staring back with a puzzled look on my eyes, the penny dropped. It’s Ford Archbold, and I’m standing in front of his workshop, aka the Spun Spirit headquarters. Naturally, the opportunity to run a quick-fire interview by him was too good to miss.


Hey Ford, how’s things? How’s Spun Spirit? Is that pretty much taking up all of your time now? 

Yeah pretty much, as well as doing paintings and stuff. But yeah it’s mostly Spun Spirit, that’s what pays the bills.


What was the turning point where you put all your efforts into Spun Spirit? And did that coincide with you pursuing sobriety?

Yeah the two were kinda linked for sure, because you end up having so much free time when you’re not sitting around in bars all day. And I guess I started getting restless wondering, ‘What am I going to do with all this spare time?’ To be honest I don’t even really know why I started doing shirts, it’s weird. I guess screen printing just sounded fun to me one day and I thought, ‘Yeah I’ll just try and do this.’ And then it was more complicated than I expected, of course, so the learning process started, and I love learning and figuring new stuff out, so it just went from there.


Who helped you out in terms of learning the ropes of screen printing? 

I had my friend Jon in San Clemente and he kinda loosely showed me some stuff. I’d go over to his spot as that’s where I first got my screens made. And then I just started figuring stuff out, YouTubing and researching the equipment I’d need. It’s pretty simple once you get the hang of it.

How do you plan collections and release timelines?

Oh, I don’t plan. I just go with it. It’s not really collection-based right now and never has been. I kinda just put out stuff when I feel like it.


Do you still find time to surf?

I do, for sure. I don’t surf as much now. I just go through phases. One week, I’ll be surfing every day and then I won’t surf for two weeks because the waves will get shitty. I just don’t really surf when the waves are super shitty anymore. I guess it’s on the back burner a little. It’s more just to clear my mind and get some exercise, Just cruising, no pressure on performing.


What led to you giving up alcohol?

I was just at a point where if I went any further with the drinking I was going to fully burn myself out. I drank so much. I guess with touring a lot in a band and stuff. I just felt super unhealthy, physically and mentally. I was just like, ‘Fuck! I gotta stop this!’ I pulled the parachute at the last second.


When was that?

2016/2017, I think. But I still smoke a bunch of weed. I’m not fully sober, haha.


How hard was it breaking the cycle? Did you go to AA meetings or seek help in any way?

I was in a rehab for a little bit, right when I first got sober. But that was more because legally I had to do it. I never really went to any meetings after that. I just put all my energy and focus into creativity and doing what I love. That’s what worked for me. But meetings work for other people, so I totally get it.


I mean, you put so much energy into drinking that when you stop you just have all this free time. So for me it was just about using that energy and time in a different way. In a more productive way. And I still get addicted, but to working and painting. I guess I just replaced my addiction with something much more positive and productive.


Looking at your paintings, I feel like they have a somewhat Lynchian feel to them. What inspires your artwork?

When I first got into it, I had no idea about painting, which was actually kinda cool. I almost wish I stayed like that. But I guess I’m obsessed with looking at paintings and looking at different artists from back in the day to draw inspiration from. But now it’s more like, trying not to pay attention to that stuff and finding my own way and trying to let it just happen in front of me. The more unpredictable, the better.

Are there any key artists that you’re a massive fan of?

It’s hard to say, there’s so many! When I first started I guess I was into the figurative stuff. Like Francis Bacon obviously, that’s always someone to look with regards to oil painting, distortion and kinda avant-garde stuff. I really like Antoni Tàpies; he’s one of my favourites. Joseph Beuys. Those guys were always more about experimenting. But I don’t know if I source inspiration from them. It’s more about the ideology of what it’s all about. I guess I kinda look at art more to decipher the process.


Youve ridden Panda boards for a long time now and seem to be surfing some interesting shapes. What’s your favourite right now?

Right now I kinda just ride a normal shortboard for the most part. Maybe a little fishier at times but I kinda like having one board for as long as I can. I’ll just ride one board for a year. I’m over having a bunch of boards. It’s not even necessary. It’s easier just to have one board and use it in all different conditions. The more you ride one board and get used to it, it just feels like an extension of yourself. But I did actually get a new shortboard thruster yesterday. ‘The Norts’.


You still dabbling with music or is your time fully consumed with art and surfing?

I still play guitar every day. It’s my go-to in between everything else I do. Almost like my thinking tool I guess. I can’t sit still so it’s kinda like the closest thing to doing nothing whilst still doing something. I’ll just sit and work on new riffs or new chords. Writing songs halfway through and then starting a new one. And just having a bunch of unfinished, half-written songs.


It’s quite a nice activity to do when you’re baked too. 

Oh for sure! Weed and guitar is my favourite mixer. Puts you in such a sedated state. It’s so nice.


Any upcoming surf trips planned?

No sadly not. I can’t leave for too long because I’m so busy with the Spun Spirit stuff. I don’t really have any employees so I do everything. So I can’t really leave at this point.


Do you still shoot with Matt (Metal Neck) Tromberg sometimes?

We just filmed yesterday actually. We’ll film every once in a while. But my focus isn’t really on getting clips too much these days. But it’s still fun. I mean back in the day, I was always like, ‘I gotta get clips. I gotta rip.’ And now I’ll just go cruise up. Not really trying anything gnarly.


Do you just go and surf Newport?

 Yeah, I’ve pretty much only surfed Newport for the past 5 years. Well, maybe Laguna sometimes. I don’t go far.

It’s funny, I remember an interview from you way back where you were hating on OC and talking about how you wanted to move to Santa Cruz. Yet you’re still down here.

Yeah I guess at that point I was kinda immersed in the bar scene and wanted to escape that. But then once I got sober I realised—I can just do the same thing anywhere I go. But I do love Santa Cruz and more rural areas for sure. I probably won’t be in Orange County forever.


Famous last words.

Yeah haha, maybe I’ll move to Laguna. I like Laguna a lot.


Do you still surf with your old man every now and then?

It’s pretty rare because I don’t get out of here much. But we’ll go surf every once in a while. I mean he stays in San Clemente and I stay up here.


What’s next for Spun Spirit?

I’m definitely looking into growing it. The goal is to just make full clothing eventually. I’m just working my way up there slowly because it costs a lot of money. Just chipping away at it. But yeah, I’m looking to be designing full clothing by the end of the year. That’s really what I want to do because making graphic tees gets a little repetitive after a while. My interest now is in full clothing.


If someone asked what is Spun Spirit. How would you describe it?

I would describe it as an entity. Kinda limitless. Let’s just see where it goes.


You can see more from Spun Spirit here.

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