An Interview with Ray Bergman, Digital Director

Posted By hazelbasil on Jan 16, 2009 | 1 comment

Ray Bergman is the Digital Director of Surfing Magazine and currently lives in Charleston, SC. I met Ray on the soccer field [that’s right, soccer!] through the local Y’s recreation league. It took about two seasons before discovering he was also a fellow designer! But of a different descent. I caught up with Ray via email.

What’s your name? Got a nickname? And, what do you do?

Hey there, my name is Ray Bergman.
Some people have been known to call me Raymond,

but they rarely get a response to it, so I’ll stick with Ray.
I am the Digital Director for Surfing Magazine (
Basically that’s a fancy way of saying that I run their website.
I also write columns occasionally for the magazine.
I create stories, edit them, and attempt to make our website a one-stop destination for those interested in surfing.

Does where you live inspire you? If so, how?

I live in Charleston, South Carolina.
I find it a very inspirational place to live based on several things.
1) it’s not Southern California. I’m originally from Southern California,
and the day to day life there really started to take it’s toll on me.
2) the people here on a general basis are very friendly.
Positive attitudes make my day so much easier and more inspired
that it is immeasurable to say just how much I appreciate the attitude (or lack of) down here.

When did you notice that you had an inkling of creative leanings/talents?

When I noticed that sometimes being consistent and showing up every day were part of my strong points.
I’m consistent to a fault, but I know that WITH my consistency already in place,
I can make subtle changes to the way I operate in addition to that and it gets a lot more attention / recognition.
Essentially, I show up every day and make suggestions.
You’d be surprised just how many of my suggestions are taken more seriously
and thought about since I’m involved every day and make my presence known to begin with.
If I wasn’t so consistent, I’m sure a lot of things that I have suggested and were successful with wouldn’t have even gotten a second look.

How do you stay inspired/creative?

Travel is the carrot that I constantly chase.
Whether that’s a trip to Jeffrey’s Bay in South Africa to do live commentary on a webcast
or a simple day trip down to St. Augustine, Florida –
getting out of my element and traveling is becoming more and more of a passion for me.
I’m VERY fortunate to have grown up with a family member who worked for Delta,
so the typical family summer vacation happened a lot for me as a child.
Getting out and seeing other views of the world really helps me project my views in different and more creative ways.
Looking outside of the typical “American” perspective has been pretty high on my list lately.

What project[s] is/are next on your creative calendar?

I currently work on a popular fantasy sports site that is taking on an overhaul.
Improving the user interface and experience are our top priority,
so we’re really trying to improve overall functionality of an already successful website without making it too “teched out”.
Our goal is to give the customer / player what they want without making it too bulky.
Strip it down to the most functional aspects of the site and improve from there.

Favorite ice cream?

I love strawberry ice cream.
But Ben & Jerry’s Festivus Cinnamon flavored ice cream is right up there with it.

3 colors that represent you and why:

Blue, green, & red. Blue is typically a color I work with in photos a lot
due to the fact that most of my work is done within the sport of surfing.
Blue water & blue sky tend to make appearances in about 99% of the photos I edit.
Green is a simple contrast color with blue,
so I try and tie in darker shades of green
in order to keep somewhat of a nautical theme within a lot of images.
Red is just a different color that I’m unfamiliar with,
but I love throwing in for a splash of something vibrant.


Who are you creatively jealous of right now?

Locally, Paula Sokoloski.
She’s a graphic designer that I work with several times per week
and has more creativity with design in her little finger than I have in my whole body.
She can take a standard logo design,
break it down to a simple layout and make it seem so much more than it ever was.
Addition by subtraction with clean, crisp designs.

On a more global / national scale, I’ve always been jealous of my friend Steve Sherman (

He’s an incredible portrait photographer who manages to capture each of his subjects so dramatically.

I’ve never asked him, and I more than likely will never work up the nerve,
but I would give my right arm to work with him on a photo shoot again and soak in everything I could.

Do you have a creative ritual? If so, what is it?

I usually break up my day with exercise.
That means getting out of the house to go for a surf, run, or bike ride on most days,
but it can also just mean picking up my camera
and taking photos of rough textures and objects to use as background for photo layouts.
Just getting away from my usual routine of sitting at my desk really helps.

What are 5 books that have inspired you/continue to inspire you?

I’ve had a few books in my possession that I always seem to gravitate back to.
One of them is “Electric Gypsy” by Harry Shapiro & Caesar Gebbeek.

It’s a complete history of Jimi Hendrix and it sheds a great little insight on a musician and creative
that was far more creative than we may have ever known.

Another book that I go back to from time to time is “The Psychology of Winning” by Denis Waitley.
It helps me focus and bring myself back to square 1 every time I read it.
It’s a great starting point for me whenever I get stuck in a rut or think that I’m not capable of something.
It has rudimentary lessons that seem to become more and more useful as I get older and experience more things.

I have a 3-year old son that is really into Dr. Seuss books lately,
so I really enjoy flashing back to my childhood when I read them to him.
They teach me to embrace the silly, the non-natural, and the unexpected.
“One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish” is a personal favorite, as is “The Cat In The Hat Comes Back”.


What other artists [current/past] inspire you?

Surf artist / creative director Wolfgang Bloch ( is a favorite of mine. He manages to take trash and pieces of things that mean nothing to anyone and transform them into something that can take your breath away.

Dan Walsh of Garfield Minus Garfield ( also makes me look at things from a different point of view. it almost has a Monty Python type of feel to it.

David Carson – former art director through many walks of life draws my attention no matter what project he works on.

Thanks Ray for your time!