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

It is said that new art hates old art.  This age old adage is the steam that powers the daily trips into the aesthetic bliss that is the sea.  As the earth continues to spin progression is and must be made.  Now it’s time to share with you this hydro splendor.  That is why after one lap around the sun, EDA Surf is releasing over 100 new surf art pieces available for viewing and purchase in various sizes and mediumSurf Art pieces choices on the EDA Surf Art Studio website.  There you’ll find water in many states of being.  From calming linear formations, to stimulating dynamic swells, EDA Surf is ready to empower and transform your space into a restorative environment.  One that allows you to connect deeply on a visual level with the omnipresent element of water. Begin your optical hydro journey and pick your form of water bliss.  EDA Surf will cover the shipping.  
~ Ruttkay / @edasurf
new surf art canvas

All New EDA Surf pieces can be customized to fit any space and in any style that flows with your aesthetic preference.

The universal love of plants for the coming of summer is sweeping the nation.  Across the country, local planting festivals are taking place. In the state of North Carolina, it’s the NC Azalea Festival.  Formally celebrated in Wilmington, NC since 1948, the four day spectacles showcases Wilmington’s unique antebellum cultural and historical gardens.  The North Carolina Azalea Festival brings a bliss-laden buzz to whoever embraces the four day festival. After a pomp filled crowning of the queen downtown followed by the festive garden party in the peaking Airlie Gardens, Dropletit is on to walk countless hidden gardens with high school girls “sitting” in full authentic antebellum southern costumes.  Then, into the night with Snoop Dogg, a live, open air concert downtown. It really is a fun and crazy time. But, as culturally significant and interesting as these events are, it is the finite and tiny miracles that can be seen popping off everywhere which hold the most interest to EDA Surf.  To engage this macro landscape, one must focus on the micro. Fortunately, in the age of digital photography it is possible to show this parallel universe scale visually, outside of the artist verbal hyperbole.
-Ruttkay / @EDAsurf

 Southeastern North Carolina’s largest business-to-business expo and conference was held last Wednesday.  The event was hosted by the Greater Wilmington Business Journal, who in their March publication awarded EDA Surf with the first annual MADE prize for outstanding business and service in the arts.  This honor came with excellent free media in the GMBJ and an all-inclusive pass to the event complete with complimentary Expo booth space and tickets to the exclusive ‘Power Lunch’ with guest speaker Live Oak Bank CEO and 2015 EDA Surf’s #1 Customer, Chip Mahan.  

Live Oak Bank CEO Chip Mahan at the EDA Surf Expo Booth.

In Mr. Mahan’s talk he touched on many topics, but the one that resonated most with me (and I’m sure many others in the 500 seat hall), was the strong economic trajectory now taking hold in Southeastern North Carolina.  With a pristine natural environment, a highly educated and skilled population, and home to some of the hottest and fast-growing tech companies in the country, Mahan forecasts Wilmington as the East Coast’s next Silicon Valley.   A large statement for sure, but Mahan is not the only person of influence to see this region’s’ potential.  Forbes named Wilmington the 13th Best City in America to do business this past year and USA Today named it ‘Best American Riverfront’.  If there was any suspicion of exaggeration, it was crushed after cruising the exhibition floor.  It quickly became clear why Wilmington is looked at in such a positive light by the outside world. It’s the people.  

EDA Surf Teammates Drew Ziegler and Angela Thorne working the Expo floor for emails.

Everyone seems super stoked and optimistic.  Anyone who was visited from the outside says this immediately when they begin to engage the locals. And why wouldn’t people in Wilmington be super stoked all the time?!? When work lets out, people have the opportunity to go surfing, kite surfing, paddle boarding, fishing, swimming in an 80 degree marsh, or simply take a walk on the beach. Really, the options to enjoy the water is endless.  And, as we know, spending time in and around water makes humans happy.  The EDA Surf message of bringing water to the walls of the built environment fits well with this water loving population. That is why EDA Surf loves Wilmington and why we have put our roots here.  So, the next time you’re around Southeastern North Carolina, step into our waters.  We are certain you’ll be stoked too.

– Sean D. Ruttkay

Socrates before he drinks the hemlock 399 BC

Socrates wearing canvas before he drinks the hemlock 399 BC.

The ancient Egyptians mummified they’re dead with it. The ancient Greek philosophers made robes from it. But it was not till 1400 when Gemäldegalerie painted the Madonna with angels that the French coined the term for this woven linen material as canevas form, the Latin cannapaceus for “made of hemp,” originating from the Greek.  Today, artist canvas is no longer made from hemp but linen and EDA Surf canvases are composed of premium materials. That combined with our state of the art printing technology and modern water visuals will leave the customer with a holistic consciousness enhancing installation. But that’s not all. For a limited time EDASurf is offering these amazing custom pieces for a fraction of our normal cost.  This limited time offer will be available while supplies last. If you take advantage of our free shipping, I guarantee you will be beyond stoked. I’m so confident of this, that this offer is satisfaction guaranteed. So, if you’ve had the desire to water your wall, but your budget has been holding you back, now is your opportunity. Hoping to hear from you shortly.

– Ruttkay / @edasurf


Since the beginning, water has been 60% of our physical makeup.  To find love in the water is to love yourself, everyone you know and the world around you.  It is our universal essence.  And as it is us, we should engage it daily and often.  With vigor, engage it physically through exercise.  With consistency, engage it biologically through consumption. And with focused contemplation, engage water visually.  By engaging in water art, various levels of joy and even bliss will be found.  It is time to lay the welcome mat out to this element called water.  Seek it.  Feel it.  Be it.  Flow.  As this love evolves, consciousness will blast to higher states.  You have been watered.  Now, water the wall.

~ Ruttkay / @edasurf

Before our Surf Art makes it to your wall, all EDA Surf Installations should evolve through three essential stages:

  1. The Assessment

This stage in the development of your installation is the most important.  Here is determined where and what size installation will be most effective.   Ask yourself:  In what room do I spend most of my time?  What room needs to inspire most?  What size and color would flow best with the layout of the room and my other decor elements?

  1.  The Inspiration

After determining the scale of your installation, it is time to focus on what piece of EDA Surf Art delivers the highest degree of impact to you and your personal aesthetic sensibilities.  Are you the type of person that needs a little extra stimulus to get moving? Then you might want to think about installing a wave in your space.  Maybe you are looking for a more calming influence for your space -a place to focus. Then you might want to look at installing a linear, tranquil piece.  Each piece of EDA Surf Art is designed to take the mind of the individual to a state where only focused action follows the viewing experience, thus tapping the fluid natural powers found only in water.

  1. The Delivery & Installation

After your deep thinking in steps 1 & 2, number 3 is a breeze with EDA Surf delivery is free for the month of February and when you receive your exciting new art, hanging will be smooth and simple.  No worries!!

Like the art itself, the steps it takes to your wall are intuitive.  Let’s begin those steps together.

~Ruttkay / @edasurf

P.S. — The videos below are part of a on going film project called called ‘The Lighting Installations’.  In each piece you will see the 3 EDA Surf Installation steps performed in less than 15sec in a variety of different spaces.  Enjoy 🙂


  Our comfort with interior spaces can be a problem in our modern society.  Whether at home, in the office, or a medical environment, much of our time is spent indoors. Due to our shared exterior evolution, this dilemma affects every human who spends a considerable amount of time in the built world. IMG_2129 copyAt EDA Surf we have a solution. Water the wall.  Do this to your modern space and you will feel a subconscious bliss.  Embedded in every piece of EDA Wave Art are natural, holistic, subliminal powers. Customers continually return to our Wilmington, NC Art Studio wanting more pieces based on how they feel emotionally when engaging the water work.  Some say certain pieces, like those of the ‘Seascape Collection’, encourage the spirit to wander, while others report that the ‘Linear Water Collection’ delivers more complacency and tranquil vibrations.  However, the emotions of action, movement and power found in the ‘Breaking Wave Collection’ have shown to deliver the most impacting effects on observers.  It is hard to find a stronger visual stimulus than the aesthetic form of a breaking wave!  Deep biophilic metaphors of strength, power, and determination deliver the necessary encouragement we desperately desire in an interior space. So, the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, in need of motivation, look at a breaking wave, feel the might, and you will be empowered to ACT!