SDA Creative

where ideas
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The book features 585 photographs and illustrations that document Hobie’s legendary life and career. The SDA studio was filled to the brim with editorial copy and photos for the most part of six months. Hoping to complete the book by Fall kept our Creative Director Mark Hancock with his nose to the grindstone all summer. The result was arguably the finest piece of work to flow through the SDA offices in many years. Being tasked with graphically compiling the story of such an industry icon and waterman was not taken lightly by SDA’s crew.

HOBIE Book-Cover_4Web_600px_MG_4230

Book Cover

Ever wonder how a book of this magnitude comes together? Please join our conversation with Mark Samuels, SDA President and Mark Hancock, SDA Creative Director as they discuss SDA’s part in the process.

M A R K   S A M U E L S:

How did SDA come to design this book?

I guess you could say it was the perfect storm. The editor, Paul Holmes, and I worked together for years at SURFER Magazine and shared a mutual respect for each others talents and strengths. Croul Publications was looking for someone who could not only appreciate the life and accomplishments of Hobie Alter, but who understood firsthand the ocean lifestyle and the players within that lifestyle. It also didn’t hurt that Mark Hancock, SDA’s Creative Director had worked closely with Holmes for many years at LONGBOARD Magazine. Combine all that with the fact that SDA has been designing for Hobie Cat for over a dozen years and the die was cast.

 As a lifelong waterman, how did you feel about doing this project?

Hobie Alter, not only in my opinion but in most people’s opinion, has had the greatest impact on the beach lifestyle and revolutionized the equipment we use to this day. To be asked to art direct the story of his life was an honor to say the least, and most likely will be one of the coolest things I ever do. Just to be able to sift through the thousands of photos from his life and know the back stories was about as good as it gets.



Who determined the contents and art direction?

Paul Holmes pretty much determined what was in and what was out. He interviewed Hobie extensively at his home on Orcas Island, and was able to put together the wireframe of his life and accomplishments on which we built the book. Mark Hancock was really the architect of the overall book design and it was a home run for sure.

What qualified SDA to design this book?

There are a lot of book designers out there that can design books. But there are few who have lived the lifestyle for the past 30+ years, who personally know many of the characters and surfers in the book, and have the breadth of design talent that SDA has culled in its long history on the beach


M A R K   H A N C O C K:

Designing a book like this must be a daunting and gratifying professional experience. Tell us what kind of design and publishing experience you have that qualifies you to be entrusted with such a monumental task?

A major part of my design career has been in magazine and specialty publishing. I’ve designed magazines and related collateral for many industries over the years including, motorsports, real estate, and particularly the surf industry.

As a lifelong waterman, you knew of Hobie prior to taking the lead on this project. Did any of your ideas about him change as you worked on the book?

Growing up surfing in Huntington Beach, San Clemente, and Sano, I kind of grew up with the Hobie brand. I was also exposed to the Hobie brand from my experiences in the sailing world as a part-time crew member on sailboats and an overall sailing and windsurfing enthusiast. I even crewed on a Hobie 33 a couple of times for some Thursday night beer can races.

Working for many years at Longboard Magazine exposed me to Hobie and his incredible accomplishments in the surf industry and beyond. The more I learned about the man during this project, the more amazed I was as to how deep into the surfing, sailing, and skateboarding world Hobie and his relationships extend.

Additionally, I had the privilege of working with the Hobie staff in Capistrano Beach and collaborating on several projects through Longboard Magazine. I also worked with the book’s author, Paul Holmes, while working at the magazine.

What dictated the look and style of the book?

I worked closely with Paul Holmes and Spencer Croul to develop the look and feel of the book based on their initial input on the project. The design formula came together pretty quickly, actually, as I had a pretty good idea of what they were looking for.

How difficult was it to blend the copy and the photos coherently, and how did you and Paul Holmes make this happen as a team?

Having worked together before, it was fairly easy to interpret what Paul had in mind for each chapter. Fitting all that great photography in each section was the hard part. There were many interesting images that ultimately didn’t get into the book, mostly due to the overall page count limitations. Fortunately for us, Hobie’s life was pretty well chronicled, so it translated into a visually and editorially stunning book with lots of great content.

How long did it take you from start to finish?

Overall, the project went about six months, but the core page production, Photoshop work, and prepress was squeezed into two-and-a-half months. It was a lot of work and long hours, but I enjoyed every second of it.

Was Hobie Alter happy with the results?

While I didn’t interact directly with Hobie myself during the process, I do know he was happy about how the book came together. Overall, I believe everyone involved is happy and it was a great honor to be involved in this project. I learned a great deal about Hobie Alter and really appreciate the enormity of his contributions to the surf, sail, and skate industries and how he helped shape a lifestyle.

Do you have a favorite section or photo?


Page 25, the early years

I really love the early chapters of Hobie’s life and learning how he got his businesses initiated as well as his sheer ingenuity and problem-solving skills that made him a huge success at whatever he set out to do.


During the design process of the book, we were receiving Hobie’s comments and opinions on everything from the stories to the photos we were using. Having his input and ultimate approval was just icing on the cake during this time. Once the book was finally printed and delivered, we had the honor of attending the official book signing in early December and watched Hobie sign countless books for his loving friends and followers.

Hobart “Hobie” Alter passed away quietly with his family at his side on March 29, 2014. The man that brought so much joy to so many is now a fond memory, but his contributions to the ocean lifestyle will live on forever. As we like to say…. “Have a Hobie Day”!


Hobie paddle out

Hobie Alter Memorial Paddle Out, Dana Point, CA


To purchase a copy of  HOBIE: Master of Water, Wind and Waves go to:

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