If you work in an office, then you know how important the environment is to your productivity.  Last week I stepped into a Herman Miller Showroom and in two seconds it was obvious that these people knew how to build a world class office space. At their Washington DC showroom across the street from The National Gallery of Art, Herman Miller was hosting an Educational Party and Pop Up Healthcare Show where I was honored to have the EDA Surf Healthcare Art line exclusively showcased.  This event for senior healthcare executives, facility planners, architects, designers, and strategic planners, showcased not only Herman Miller’s latest in ergonomic healthcare furniture but a seminar from the Healthcare Advisory Board about the current state of the US healthcare system, followed by an informative presentation as to the best practice for sitting and standing at your workspace.  During the social cocktail and appetizer portion of the event, I had the privilege of meeting and speaking with many of the top individuals in the nation’s health care system.  One of the fascinating takeaways during these conversations was how much change is occurring on the landscape in the physical healthcare space.  With changes in Medicare proposed by the current Republican plan held up in the Senate, hospitals are expecting to take on more of the cost burden. Simply put, the CEO’s are looking at red balance sheets in forecast futures and are tweaking out. This sobering discussion was followed by more joyful conversations about water and how people in such a healthcare facility could improve their condition by being around water imagery.  The EDA Surf Trifecta approach to life (be in water / drink water / look at the water ) was well received and especially enjoyed by the scientist in the room for its empirical structure.  These talks were then followed by cool and practical wall watering discussions.

In takeaway and final analysis, the conclusion is that as the population ages and the population on a macro level suffer due to lax environmental laws, more money is going to be needed to help sick people. Where is the financial support going to come from as the healthcare system needs financial infusion?  As another sunset concludes, we must remember we are all mortal and stand on the thin ice of life and we never know when we too will need to visit a hospital. Hopefully, hospitals will continue to be a part of our health care infrastructure. Water the wall and feel the power.


It was five years ago that I really understood what cystic fibrosis was. I was having a nice Sunday lunch with my wife, Cornelia, (who was 8 months pregnant with our daughter Nealie Finn), at the Hanover Seaside Club in Wrightsville Beach, NC. Our beach friends Bryan and Victoria Wessell walked in the dining room with their fresh new born baby, Jozie and they were overflowing with joy and pride. However, I found out later that they were deeply concerned and with good reason. This was because Jozie had been born with Cystic Fibrosis or (CF), the genetic disease that affects the lungs and breathing. Since that lunch, I have watched Jozie become a true lover of the beach and one of my daughter’s best friends.  Watching the two of them play in the surf, you would never think about CF and Jozie’s struggles.  But, as my daughter Nealie tells me, Jozie starts each of her days with a vibrating chest therapy session, she has to take medication before each meal and is always on the lookout for germs (because people with CF are more susceptible to bacterial infections than the general population). These behind the scene routines are never a cause of complaint by Jozie or her parents. In fact, they are beacons of positivity, more stoked and joyous every day. Since her diagnosis, her parents have been extremely involved in the Annual Pipeline to a Cure Benefit and Gala which raises money for research in hopes of one day curing this horrible disease.  EDA Surf has been donating art each year to the auction. This year was the first year EDA Surf art was presented during the live auction. The piece chosen was an extra large (74″x 48″ Weatherproof Aluminum) work titled “Hold Down”.  

fight Cystic Fibrosis surf art auction piece

Auction piece “Hold Down“, sized 74″x 48”, and mounted to Weatherproof Aluminum raises $5K to fight CF.

This piece was chosen because it represents the feeling of being held down and not being able to breathe, the very horrific sensation these children and adults feel daily.  After an intense bidding war, it was an honor to see the art donated raise more than $5000 for the charity.  As the night concluded, one of the top doctors who does research for this disease, Dr. Scott Donaldson of UNC Chapel Hill, said we are on the cusp of a monumental discovery. He said, “Maybe someday soon we will have our final gala where we don’t ask for any money and will just party in celebration of the cure.”   Until that day comes, researchers will  need more money to help these very deserving children. If you would like to donate money to help children like Jozie fight cystic fibrosis please click this link here.




“You are now in the hands of the starter.” Then the siren sounds and you are off! In the hunt for oceanic glory and power, there is an elite class of beach lifeguards that challenge their lifesaving skills in mind and body through competition. Last week I had the honor to compete for Wrightsville Beach Ocean Rescue in the 2017 South Atlantic Regional Lifeguard Championships in Jacksonville Beach, FL. Here, over 200 beach lifeguards from every ocean rescue organization from Virginia Beach, VA to Ponte Vedra Beach, FL converged on 200 yards of beach strand to compete in lifesaving related events, including swimming, running, surf skiing, and rescue paddle boarding. These disciplines were broken into 12 individual and team events staggered over a two-day period.  

2017 Wrightsville Beach Ocean Rescue Competition

The 2017 Wrightsville Beach Ocean Rescue Competition Team. Top left to right: Sean Ruttkay, Jack DeVries, Luke Hammond, Seamus Donahue, Will Owens, Michel Heijnen. Bottom left to right: Mo Peacock. Thalia Harrison, Ana Fish, Kayra DeMarte, Kristi Falco, Hunter Hay.

Of these 12 grueling endeavors, my personal favorite was the Open Men’s International Ironman event, an intense endurance event which consists of a 600-yard paddle, followed by a 400-yard swim, a 1000 yard surf-ski (like a skinny boat), and finally a 200-yard beach sprint. This epic event is always saved for the end of the two-day competition to ensure that all the competitors are exhausted and fully gassed. To add to the exhaustion, the surf was 4-6 ft. (head high) which added many new layers of uncertainty due to the increased chance that competitors could get blasted by the surf on the way out or gain a significant lead by catching swells on the way into the beach. This swell variable graced the haul of my surf ski during this very event this year and it was one of the coolest moments of my life. Way out the back, as I turned the apex buoy, I began to feel the slight lift of the stern and then knew I was tapping into a ground swell. Feeling the energy take hold I began to paddle with intense speed. Then, synergy was gained and my craft lifted and effortlessly glided on the swell in the open ocean 500 yards off shore without a stroke. Completely mesmerized by this phenomenon I began flying past competitors and I almost neglected to realize the last buoy that needed to be turned to my right. Coming back to the realities of course markings, I jammed down the foot pedal sending the ski sharply to the left and dug the paddle on the same side of the wave so not to flip the craft. At speeds consistent with a full 10 sec period swell the fiberglass boat made a slight “bong” sound as it hit and cleared the orange buoy. On course and shocked as to how the race can flow, the ski took one more wave to the beach and gliding through the flags I received sixth place overall out of the thirty some competitors.  

But to the heart, finish place was meaningless. What mattered most was the feeling of complete physical exertion achieved through the medium of the sea. Sure, winning feels good but realizing true glory only comes when the element of water is synthesized with mind and body to achieve extreme physical oceanic pleasure. When this joy is found, the individual taps into a high bliss state.  

The question is then, how can you experience a level of this bliss state? It is of my opinion that all encounters with water have their place on the spectrum of water induced bliss. For example, an individual who is at their office desk and sticks their fingertips in a cup of ice water is low on the spectrum (but still achieving a level of water induced bliss). An individual who may be surfing a 20-foot wave off the coast of France receives a higher level of water induced bliss due to his chosen physical water action. The take-home message being, regardless of the type of water engagement you choose, the more times you can interact with water in a given day, the better your chances of achieving a blissful state and thus a happier life. So remember…engage water in your physical world, then ‘Water the Wall’.

– Ruttkay / @edasurf

Space and time are the realms of reality. These two structures make up all shared existence, and as individuals operating in the contemporary world, we can share our perspectives and experiences instantly through the creative expression of photo sharing. However, behind vivid visual reality stands the internal soul that can’t quite fully express the true conception of abstract truths in such a steadfastly objective medium.

EDA Surf at the National Gallery of Art

EDA Surf finding true inspiration at the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. with sleeping son Dax.

Or, at least that’s been my deep- seated problem with the medium of photography ever since I started using it as a form of artistic expression 12 years ago.  That is, until a few months back, as the dawn of 2017 was showing the first beams of universal disorder and chaos, I was in my hometown of Washington, DC, cruising the marble halls of the National Gallery of Art.  This Federal institution can always be relied on to give breadth to the slack sails of any creative ship.  This year’s pilgrimage to these epic galleries was nothing short of enlightening.  After taking in the masterpieces of Rembrandt, Dali, Pollock, and Warhol (to name a few), I walked onto the National Mall with new ideas giving me fresh purpose.  I knew exactly what I needed to do.  Flip my old work on its head.  This new and completely original collection is the product of that flip, and now thirty pieces deep, I am calling it ‘The Multiverse Collection’.  As this new line of work evolves, and fresh piece are added to the collection as they are produced, I invite you to return in the coming weeks and mouths to monitor this inspiration from the canon of modern art.

– Ruttkay / @edasurf 

– visit ‘The Multiverse Collection’ – 

KONICA MINOLTA Multiverse eda surf art


Wetting the camera is always a goal at EDA Surf.  When the Yellowstone guide said, “My dude, you’re going to get vaporized, no chance!”  My plans of finding the bluest Yellowstone hot spring and capturing insane visuals had been crushed.  My east coast naivety had been exposed.  In this world, it is the natural hot spring that stands next to the spitting barrel in the pantheon of desired hydro states.  Previous natural hot spring encounters had yielded memorable moments from Tuscany to Rotorua, New Zealand.  However, in Yellowstone, it is the contrasting states of the fire and ice that is oh so incredible.  yellowstone national parkWhen the opportunity of entering the mecca of natural hot springs arose, I thought, “this is the best location for thermal pools in the world, why not go for a dip!?”  As I found out, aside from it being against federal law to “hot pot”, just dipping in will kill you, due to the 160-466 degree water and that the PH from the molten lava is as high as acid.  This deadly combo evaporated all hopes of swimming, so it was here where I contemplated abandoning the idea for another day of snowboarding Big Sky mountain.  But, my trusty snowmobile guide, Art Camouflage (yes that was his real name) assured me that what we were about to go do was nothing short of spectacular and “of bucket list shit.” sean ruttkay yellowstone national park

In subzero temperatures, Art and I saddled up our snowmobiles and flew in formation over snow banks, through the West Gate into the National Park.  madison riverAs we made tracks deeper along the vaporous Madison River, American bison calmly grazed amidst billowing steam that is the trademark of this 640,000-year-old volcanic crater.  Plowing deeper into the Park we found raging waterfalls that sprayed a warm mist aloft melting surrounding snow.  As mind blowing as the flowing waterfalls were, it was the tropical blue pools that were of another world.  The desire to jump into the crystal turquoise vats was overwhelming, and without hesitation, I turned to Camouflage I said, “Are you sure…vaporized?”  Rolling his eyes, he calmly said, “Yes boss, still vaporized.” In the end, the beauty and death here are the positive and negative, just as the spitting barrel of the banzai Pipeline or the paramount peaks of Mt. Everest.  However, it is the tranquil and seductive nature of this unique natural form that sets it apart from the rest.  These hot pools are the forbidden fruit of the planet’s many watery aesthetic forms.

– Ruttkay / @edasurf

-Click on the image below to see all the EDA Surf images from Yellowstone National Park- 

steaming falls yellowstone national park

As we all know the office is a heavy environment.  Our modern lives, to an extent, dictate we must remain inside to work and achieve our goal.  A means to an end.  But in this work time, it is mandatory that the ends be observed visually to invigorate and remind us of what we are working for.  If you’re like me, all undesirable must do tasks are accomplished with the purpose to assure that life will provide future time in the physical space of water.  Being at the beach, swimming, surfing, and generally being with water is where our primal solo wants to be.  So what do you do when you can’t physically be with water? You ‘water the wall’.
office surf art
Now for a limited time, spreading this holistic message to your boss could win you a FREE 24″x36″ EDA Surf Art Piece.  All you have to do is let the boss know how amazing ‘watering the walls’ of the workplace would be for, motivation, concentration, and general well-being in the workplace.  When he/she is enlightened to the simplicity of this decision and purchases an EDA Surf Art package (3 or more piece) you win your FREE piece.  Send some photos of your space in question and let’s start the conversation.  Let’s transform your space holistically with water.

-Sean Ruttkay / EDA Surf


~The Stoked Files~



What does it mean to “be a surfer”?  Must you actually surf, stand up on a wave, and travel its line? Or to be a surfer, do you just need to sit and contemplate the act of surfing?  

thinking about surfing

Thinking about surfing.


As metaphysics is the science of “being”, the two philosophers in the canon of thought that lay the groundwork work for this conceptual division are Plato and Aristotle.  Plato, if he were alive today,  would certainly argue that mere contemplation of the “good”, or in this scenario the “wave”,

would rank as the ultimate and paramount form of existing as a surfer.  Which would mean a 16-year-old surf media devouring, land-locked kid in Nebraska has the same potential to be as stoked as his contemporary growing up on the reef shores of Sunset Point, Oahu.  Plato’s student Aristotle would disagree wholeheartedly.  For Aristotle, to exist or “be”, one must do, act, and exert change in the physical world.  To realize the full potential as a surfer, our 16-year-old in Nebraska must do more than dream. He must pick up, move himself to the beach and participate in the act of surfing.  All being said, you may be think, “Easy Easy!, Aristotle’s got this one. Of course, you need to surf to be a “surfer.”

Jamie O'brien surfer

Jamie O’brien “being” a surfer.

But, how many times or how often in one’s life?  Does surfing once, flailing everywhere make a surfer?  Or does shredding hard for 20 years, from J-bay to pipeline, then only to find yourself paralyzed after a night of motorbiking in Bali, (never to surf again), make you now a non-surfer? When examined from this angle, Aristotle’s cut and dry perspective’s are now not so clear.  So what do you think? Participate in the survey below and check back in a few days for the public perspective and from that of the Academic. Till then be stoked!! 

– Ruttkay / @edasurf


      Ever since “Sea of Spring” was unveiled as the official art of the 2017 North Carolina Azalea Festival, people have been asking for the full backstory on how everything came together. In short, it all came down to a world class beach community and the deep-seated love we all have for water.  However, the full story is a bit more complex.  At an early age, my parents introduced me to swimming culture and later beach culture.  This is where my personal water love code was cracked. The pool got me by day to day, but growing up near Washington, D.C.  the closest beach was 3 hours away. The ocean was the paramount idea of water bliss.  Over time my goal was clear, to live on the coast ‘when I grew up.’ However, it was not that simple.  I have dyslexia and in elementary school, my parents and teachers were worried about getting me out of middle school and on to high school let alone college out of state.  But this burning desire to live near the coast focused me and gave me the motivation I needed to develop as  a student with dyslexia. After years of setbacks and subsequent triumphs, my water-minded focus gave me the propulsion need to graduate from high school with honors and attend my dream school:  the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. I had made it. It was the fall of 1999 and I had reached a moment that one teacher in the 8th grade said was an impossible dream, ‘to live on the beach by the time I was 18.’ I vividly remember standing on the white sandy beaches of Wrightsville and thinking to myself, “with this ocean, now I can do anything I want, everything from this point on will be gravy.”  screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-9-27-45-pmSo new goals were set and having not yet developed the concept of being an artist I set the academic career goal of educator and set out to become a special education teacher focused on students specifically with dyslexia like me.  After five years of strenuous studious work in the Watson College of Education, a semester abroad in Australia, a lifetime of amazing friendship made, and let’s not forget waves of all forms surfed, I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Special Education.  But something was not right. I was not ready to settle into a career inside a building.  My soul told me this love for water needed to be fostered and explored. After graduation in 2005 EDA Surf was born with the goal of uplifting consciousness through installations of water in the built environment. As in my previous endeavors in my life, I knew this could be done through a mindful connection with the sea.
So, I purchased a bunch of top of the line camera gear (having no idea how to use it) and started traveling with my then girlfriend and now wife, Cornelia. We went to Hawaii numerous times, New Zealand, Australia, Italy and beyond. At the end of our travels, we concluded that Wilmington was the best place to put down roots. EDA Surf began to become a known quantity in town and then in the fall of 2013, UNCW invited my work to showcase in the Randall library.  The show was calledScreen Shot 2015-05-10 at 2.45.34 PM “The Aesthetic of Water”. This amazing opportunity included an evening where I was invited to give a lecture on my thoughts regarding the show and its content. I focused on the scientific empirical evidence that supported my claims regarding water and it’s visual healing powers.  After the evening concluded, 2017 Azalea Festival President Jean Lawler approach me as I was individually thanking people for coming.  She pulled me aside between two 12 foot Library shelves of books, explained to me that she was a future Azalea Festival president and wanted to let me know that she was going to choose me as the artist for the 2017 festival.
As one can imagine, I was beyond stoked, deeply honored, and now a bit nervous having no idea what I was going to do.  But as time solves all problems the concepts formed and it became clear what needed to be done.  So I developed three rules and self-implemented them.  They were as followed:

  1. the piece had to be completely different in layout and content than any piece before it in the 70-year history of the festival.
  2. This piece needed to be conceptual, given that photography was going to be the medium.
  3. The piece had to hold iconic elements of southeastern North Carolina and my personal style.

After two trips around the sun and opportunities to photograph azaleas, one frame out of thousands taken stood out like a  supernova in the universe of stars.  “Sea of Spring” was born.  The piece depicts the eternal mass of space and time represented by the ocean giving rise to the past, present, and future springs. It is represented by three Azaleas with the first in a bud, the second in full bloom and the third in post peak form with a sharp droplet descending from the final pink bloom into the sea at large, representing the moment that is perpetually fleeting into eternity. Deep, I know, but that is how the image presented itself and I believe to be a testament to the power of the natural environment and the community that is found here in Southeastern North Carolina. My experiences thus far have proven to me that one does not go into life with a distinct plan, but steadfast convictions that guide the soul to where it should be.  Each morning, as I watch the sunrise over the pristine Atlantic, I remember this truth.  

The life of EDA Surf can be marked by one defining principle and philosophy, it is that water alone can transform the life. In my creative pursuits, it has been watering the wall  that I have discussed most.  But it is the real life day to day physical engagement with water that is the steam powering my positive locomotion.  Based in southeastern North Carolina, world-class activities such as surfing, stand up paddle boarding, open water swimming, and even free diving are minutes away – just outside the door. But there is one activity that I have found brings electrifying life to the body and mind. That is lap pool swimming.  I can see you cringing now. Staring at a line back-and-forth for an hour in a pool … what could be more boring!?  And that is the point. In our modern times, moments with the silent self, “just being” have been lost.  "Breathing Under Water" Water mindfulness Art by EDA SurfHere in the pool, when the commitment is made to abandon electronics for the swim session, to engage the conscious ancient technology of the body, new realms of understanding are to be had.  I know it sounds mystical, but after two years of committed daily practice, I can say from experience that it is truly life-changing.  Depending on the day (either at 5 AM or 9 PM) the pool becomes my physical medium.  In this space, I flow from end to end training the mind to focus on the one and true aspect of living, the breath. In the pool attention to this living necessity is mandatory, because when overlooked, choking ensues. Yes, it is true, 100% attention to the breath is difficult but the attempt is worthy.  As in many quiet moments in life, the past and the future pass through the mind. And when they do, the vexation that ‘time think’ brings is compartmentalized and anchored in conscious breathing.   For instance, I might think of a new idea or remind myself of something I need to do. At that time a voice in my head says, “OK, you will do that, but remember the breath.” Then, as the attention returns to the breath, the flow of the swimming becomes smoother over the body, physically reinforcing the power of thought to the brain.  This is my daily water refuge, but finding your water retreat does not need to be a struggle.  It could be as simple as going to the local retention pond near your work at lunch or even dare I say staring at a glass of water for a few moments in your cubicle.  The thing about the aquatic mediation is that with water all around the only lacking element on this blue earth keeping us from bliss is time and commitment to be water focused.  So on this transformation Tuesday I challenge you to find your own water space and engage it.  Your ‘being’ will thank you.

-Ruttkay / @edasurf

“Don’t use the stairs bra. You don’t want to look like a kook at ‘the Lane’ !” , said the intense Santa Cruz surf shop employee.  “Go to the point past the lighthouse, disregard the warning signs of death, jump the metal fence, walk to the end of the cliff and jump off. You’ll be directly in the lineup just like a true local.  Trust me bra, it’s cool.”  At 16 years old, this advice from a guy with a skateboarding red-eyeball tattoo jutting out of his flannel neck collar was knowledge to be taken seriously. That was 1996.  _MG_2400Now, 20 years later I have returned to this rugged bohemian town with an assignment to once again jump the cliff, enter its crisp waters, and capture it’s unique visual aesthetic.  This time I’m not with my parents but with my own wife and children.  As we hop out of the van in the car park of Steamer Lane, the salty air hits the face with pungent aromas that mix softly with hints of sun baked seaweed.  Everything is just as I remembered it. The sound of surf pounding is immediately heard but not seen as the vertical cliffs hide the impact zone. “Let’s check it kids,” I say as we walk comfortably barefoot over the green manicured lawn of the Steamer Lane lighthouse grounds.  Reaching the metal railing at the cliffs edge the lines of swell become visible and instantly reverberate to the heart.  A rolling 5 to 6 foot swell face shows its form before crashing heavy on the cliff walls exploding millions of droplets 20 feet in all directions.  My 2 year old says, “Boom!” My 4 year old asks, “Daddy what does that sign say?”
_MG_4778I read aloud, “Warning! 99 people have died on these cliffs and waters since 1965.  Play it safe!” Pointing to my head I say, “Sounds like a plan.” And with that word of state-sponsored wisdom I returned to the van and prepared to reengage the spot I had left 20 years before. After packing the housing with care slipping on a bone dry wetsuit that had not seen water in months (EDA Surf local beach currently 81 degrees), I kiss the family good-bye and jumped the barrier.  Descending down the headland to my right, a group of sun bathing seals give a blissed-out look. I threw some shakas there way then walked to the end and jumped into a cool 58 degree green universe.  Over the course of a four-day period this cycle was repeated numerous times during which many contrasting swell forms and light moods were experienced. The outcome was refreshing.  As the goal of this project was to deliver the visual aesthetic of Santa Cruz water to any wall, any where.  It is clear that such a mission should leave a space visually cool, as if someone turned your thermostat down to 68 degrees.  the santa cruz aesthetic surf galleryAs you toy with your thermostat during these extra warm summer days, consider watering the wall with the cool water of Santa Cruz.  You will be refreshed.

-Ruttkay / @edasurf


Santa Cruz Aesthetic