In fact, he and Agius embraced it. “I’ve come to the realization that if you do something that the majority of the surf world hates, then you’re probably doing something right,” Agius says of he and Smith’s collaboration. “Surfing has been sheltered for so long, it’s often presented as this thing where everything is rosy and perfect.
For Smith, the reaction to Proxy Noise was validation for someone who felt like he’d always been an outsider in the surf world. “Growing up in a shitty town in Florida, you either get stuck there or you get excited about something that can get you the f–k out,” says Smith. “I had a really unique upbringing because of that.
Over the last decade, Smith’s been able to ride his Kerouacian inclinations into myriad creative projects, taking a hands-on approach with campaigns that his sponsors have involved him in while maintaining a prolific output personally, writing music reviews, making artwork, shooting film photographs and developing them himself in makeshift darkrooms.
At a time when many surf brands are struggling to distinguish themselves atop a constantly shifting cultural landscape, Former seems cut from the same rebellious cloth as Proxy Noise, favoring a dark, cryptic aesthetic saturated in Smith’s post-punk attitude.
Beginning with his early collaborations with Dion Agius on their blog, Proxy Noise, in 2011, Smith’s modern Beat ramblings, abstract black-and-white photography, and outsider ethos sent many an internet troll running to their keyboards.
As a longtime friend of freesurfing firebrands Craig Anderson and Dane Reynolds, it came as no surprise when it was announced that Smith would be helping formulate the creative vision for their new clothing company, Former. “We’re all really opinionated,” says Anderson. “Warren is probably the most opinionated [laughs], but somehow it works.
But this time it isn’t an outsider blog Smith’s manning; it’s a brand backed by some of the most influential surfers in the world, and it’s going to reach a much larger audience.
If you ask Smith, however, he’ll tell you that it’s still “just a bunch of dudes starting something out of their garage,” which is a place Smith seems more than comfortable. “We’ve all talked about starting something forever, and that discussion took different shapes over time.
Read more here: Surfer Mag