My days are moderated by a mental checklist where you’re doing a little bit of everything.”
Our Traveler Pant is designed for a life on the go, and we thought there was no better person to test-drive them IRL than Albert Reed. Artist, model, surfer—he’s always on the move. We picked his brain to see what the daily hustle-and-bustle is for a jack of trades like himself.
BR: You surf, you’re a painter, you’re a model. What’s a typical day for you?
I’m a morning person. I usually get up relatively early—5-6 a.m. I have a coffee. There’s always a couple things that need to be done—emails, laundry, domesticated stuff. I don’t surf in the morning because my body isn’t awake yet. Sometimes I do yoga. Usually, if I’m working in the studio, I’m in full tilt by 10 a.m. I always try to get in at least 8 hours of work, if feasible. I’m usually in the water by 5 p.m. for an evening surf session, then I just come home and read. In the evening, I put on some music. My dad gave me this old, vintage stereo from the ’60s when I finally planted some roots this year. I have it all hooked up, so at night, it’s nice to listen to some jazz, read, or play with sketching—just kind of explore the freedom of thought. Those are the days that I like that are a little more regular.
The other days can be airplanes, flying out, meetings in LA, delivering art pieces to clients, modeling jobs somewhere or visiting my framers to make sure my pieces are being framed or color coding frames, so that’s always intermixed. But day-in-day-out by choice would definitely be adventuring up to the studio and keeping that kind of rhythm.
BR: You mentioned listening to music in the studio—what’s on your playlist?
In the morning, I might listen to classical, then by 10-11 a.m., I could be into hip-hop or rap. Then you get punk, then folk by the afternoon—there’s definitely a constant presence of having music playing throughout the day with a range of genres depending on what the mood feels.
The Miles David Quartet is a great album at night—there’s a long list of jazz musicians when jazz was a thing that kind of dominate the playlist. It’s a nice way to shut the day down.
BR: Tell me about surfing.
Growing up, the beach was always a presence in my life—there were waves more often than not. As a kid, you’re on a body board, then at around 10 or so, my parents got me a proper surf lesson. At 13, we moved to the central east coast of Florida where the surf is better. Surfing progressively became more of a full-time thing. I loved it up there—the surf was good and Kelly Slater was from there. I would fall asleep at night listening to the ocean, surf before school and when school was over, come home and surf again. My high school life was just surfing all the time.
BR: You’re a model and a painter—how do you balance the two careers?
I’ve always painted. Through elementary, middle and high school my passion was art. I did art competitions and never thought of it as a thing, but just did it because I was good at it or whatever. And even all the years living in New York as a model, I kept a studio with an extra bedroom where I’d work late at night.
All the artists in this day and age have a different story—there is no status quo.”
After being in the modeling industry for 18 years, you realize how isolating it is—you spend the majority of your time by yourself. For me, it was a very fortunate circumstance—I was reading, absorbing, going to art shows and culturally connecting myself with whatever cities I was in, not really subconsciously realizing what that was doing to me overall. As a model, you’re so fortunate because you work a job that allows you to have a lot of free time. If you use it wisely, you can do great things. There are a handful of phenomenal minds and talented human beings in the industry who have struggled and fought to do more with the time they’re allocated.
I’ve only been a professional painter now for six years. In the first three years of doing it, I never thought in a million years—even while it was happening—it was one of those things. You’re pinching yourself like, “are people really buying my paintings?” It’s hard to have confidence in it. Naturally, any artist has a sense of insecurity.
I never really thought this would happen to me—and then it did, organically and on its own terms. As an artist, you’re a commodity, the value of which is anyone’s guess and evaluation. It’s a really interesting thing being in the art world—there are no rules, there is no set way of doing it. A lot of them were waiting tables, being electricians, doing something on the side and it just happened to work out because they loved it and kept doing it anyway, even if people told them they sucked at it.
I was in this industry of modeling and running around the world, hanging out with famous people that I would never have thought I’d meet in a million years. I took the throttle full tilt for the sense of experience and I always thought you had to walk that fine line in order to be a visionary or an artist. The reality is you don’t because most of those people burned out or died. You don’t sustain that way. I had that realization that it’s not about money, it’s about loving what you do. I came from a working-class family—you work hard, you try your best, you survive.
BR: Who are some of your favorite artists?
A ton of them—Jean Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, Frank Stella, Georgia O’Keefe, Jackson Pollock. Agnes Martin—when you walk into a room with one of her pieces, it literally makes you feel calm. I think now with a lot of the work that I’m doing, I’m trying to find something like that. There’s a lot of parallels that I have with her, not only because of her body of work but because she was crazy. If she didn’t like it, she would bring it out in the backyard and burn it in her fire pit, and I love that—I understand that kind of discipline and constant judgment of your own work.
BR: Tell me a little bit more about travel—you seemed to have done it a lot from being in modeling and art. Where are some of your favorite places to go?
It’s only been the last two years that I’ve been permanently placed in Ventura because I needed that grounding foundation in order to really build work and focus. Before that—16 years of being transient—I’d sublet places in Sydney, New York, London, Paris and Los Angeles. When you’re traveling for work, you’re going to all the cool places but you’re dipping in quickly—you’re not soaking things up on your own terms.
Anywhere that’s pretty much untouched for me is a good place. Nova Scotia and Alaska both have good surfing. Colder water surfing destinations—Vancouver, Oregon, Patagonia, Chile, New Zealand—are on my list of places to visit. These places are extremely attractive and also soulfully-enriching, hopefully. I’ve spent some time in Scotland and Ireland for surfing bigger waves back in the day and those waves are magical. Iceland, too. But Dakar, Senegal definitely comes to mind because of the impression of their culture.
Traveling is a great reality check for the way you engage.”
I really enjoyed Dakar because there is literally no Western influence. They exist in this cohesive, village-raise-a-child mentality. You have aunts, uncles, grandmas, grandpas, moms, dads, sisters, brothers, cousins—everyone is raising each other. Children are very social and present. When people wake up in the morning, they usually do a group exercise on the beach—it’s really beautiful—they’re in the sand doing all kinds of running and jumping. Then they go to work. Once they’ve made what they need to for the day—usually by noon—they’re done! They hang out, they go swimming, they go fishing, they play whatever sport they want to play, they hang out with their families. It’s a really beautiful thing to watch people enjoy life. They’re not stressed about tomorrow—they’re not anxious about owning things—it’s an extremely present culture so that’s a very enlightening thing for a Westerner to come across.
BR: When you travel is there anything you have to have with you?
I take a Patagonia backpack, a miniature backpack that rolls up to the size of my hand for running around town, a Kindle with my books on it, my Bose noise-cancellation headphones for travel, an Ube boom speaker because music makes any place feel like home, chargers for my technology, my iPad and my sketchbook (both of which translate and help each other for conceptualizing), my laptop if I’m traveling for a longer period of time, but if it’s short, I try not to bring it, a pair of jeans, a pair of swim trunks, maybe five shirts if it’s a week, something warm for the plane, one pair of shoes that I’m wearing, my wallet, my passport, pens, a small toiletry bag—as little as possible. I try to keep it light. I like to be able to throw my bag on in case anything changes or Armageddon comes along, so I can run up the hill with all my stuff. I usually travel with a water bottle as well, because nowadays, I find a lot more places offering to fill water and I try to be conscious of my output.
I’ve definitely become a minimalist, just in general. Life’s a lot easier when there’s less to worry about.”
I know, most likely, we’re shooting a bb gun at a freight train when it comes to environmental impact as a global community, but I can control my output. I travel with a water bottle attached to my bag, so once I get through security, I can refill it. We have this thing with bottles. When I go on photo shoots, it always depresses me. Ninety-percent of all photo shoots buy cases of bottled water. People don’t mark who the bottle belongs to, and you see so much waste. It takes a conscious effort. My dad always had a water bottle with him when I was a kid and it’s kind of stuck with me.
BR: Speaking of traveling, you tried on all of our Traveler styles. What are your thoughts?
For someone that’s looking for an all-around jean, they’re really a good way to go. I think in the sense of a minimal lifestyle, you’re going to have a couple of pairs of jeans to keep it mellow and easy with your sense of choice.
I wear the same thing most of the time and buy quality things that last.”
They’re great for anyone who wants to live out of a pair of jeans. If you’re on a plane, standard jeans that don’t stretch are uncomfortable. I think the Traveler Jean is great if you skate, ride a bike or you’re active—you can pretty much do whatever you want in them. Comfort and stretch are key.
BR: So, what does the future hold?
My end goal is to live down in Patagonia—surfing, hiking and fishing down there are great. I’d work out of a giant barn and paint the days away and ship out art around the world. I’d go to galleries and expositions when I need to but it would be nice to raise a family out in a primitive place. Maybe close to a cute town or something so there’s a place to go get cheese. I’d have a dog—it would be wonderful. I’m definitely looking forward to that time—when I have a wife, some children, a permanence in a sense of not having to go places—right now I’m venturing into my second career and I’m only six years in, so there’s definitely another ten years until I even get to that point. That’s the dream goal at the end of the tunnel. Maybe it works out, maybe it doesn’t—I don’t know!
Travel is a constant for Albert Reed, making the Traveler a perfect companion. Whether you’re jetting off on your next adventure or just heading out on your daily commute, the Traveler is the most comfortable pant that goes anywhere. Find the right pair for you.