Tell us a little about yourself…
My name is Alex Schaffer Czech, and I live in Santa Cruz, California. By day, I teach art and graphic design full time at Los Gatos High School. When I am not managing my teaching job, taking care of my kids, remodeling my house, or navigating daily life, I run a clothing brand called “uroko” that features my artwork. When I find a crack within the semi-organized chaos that I call my life, I try and fish or surf. My biggest problem is that I love and find joy in everything that I do.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your artwork?
I am inspired by so many things in life. I find inspiration daily when working with my students. I was a punk rock kid in my youth, and love how teenagers see the world with a youthful set of eyes that haven’t been worn down yet. My own kids love to draw, paint, build, and create. I love their carefree attitudes and ability to not have boundaries when creating. It reminds me to enjoy what I do and appreciate the process.
Nature is my biggest muse. I find beauty all the way down to the cellular structure of things. If you pay attention and look closely at things that surround you, you will be blown away by the color, shape, dimensions, composition, and orchestration found within the organic and inorganic compounds that surround us.
Where did the name Uroko originate from?
I am a military brat from generations dating back to my Grandad. I moved a lot when I was young. My “step” Dad was stationed at Kadena Airforce base in Okinawa, Japan when I was a kid. I learned to love the Japanese culture and language during these years. I later studied the Japanese language in college. When I was trying to come up with a name for my brand, Uroko, I wanted something unique and distinguished. I started thinking of how to identify with fish in other languages and came across Uroko from the Japanese language. “Uroko” means fish scale/scales. It’s not an easy name for some people to say, but I am good with that.
What’s your connection to fly fishing and the outdoors?
I have been an outdoorsman my whole life. From the age of 4, I grew up fishing with my Grandad up in Washington State during the summers. We would fish in both fresh and saltwater. We traveled to Canada every summer as well, and would fish the lakes in the northern part of British Columbia. I also grew up fishing out of San Diego, where I am from originally. I started surfing when I was ten years old and have been chasing waves ever since. When you surf and fish, you always have something outdoor related that you are chasing. My happy place is on the water.
Can you tell us a little more about the process of your designs?
I use multiple tooling methods when creating my designs. My roots are in the fine arts. I still do a lot of my drawings in pencil and then come back in and ink them. I enjoy using Adobe Draw on the Ipad, but you can’t replace the experience of setting your pencil on a piece of nice paper and drawing. When I draw, 4 hours feels like 30 minutes. It’s the most meditative act I do. I am always trying to find another way to use line to communicate water.
Where’s your dream travel destination?
I really want to go surfing and fishing in Morocco. It has been on my bucket list for a long time. I love history and anthropology. When I travel, I like to immerse myself in the culture and learn about the people.
Sweet or salty?
Salty … not at the world though. Salt makes me think of salt water – my favorite thing to be around.
What’s on the horizon for you?
We have a lot happening in 2020. For the West coast, we have several new retail shops in the Los Angeles area that are bringing us on board and a handful of retail shops in the New England area. We understand how important community shops are and want to be a part of it. We’re also in the process of building a YouTube Channel that will feature fishing and surfing adventures, “How To’s”, interviews, cooking, and other lifestyle moments we want to take a moment and celebrate.Thank you for the opportunity to introduce Uroko. I hope you all dig the sticker collab.
Company website for The Tribe to check out more?
Our main website is WWW.UROKO.life
You can also find us at https://www.etsy.com/shop/theartsea/
Based in southern Colorado, Ryan is a photographer, outdoorswoman, fish chaser, and proud mama to two wild Outdoors-loving kiddos. When not wrangling little ones or cattle dogs, you’ll find her on the water, on a trail or on the road looking for the next piece of water and (hopefully) high country trout.