what i can't live without

What Geoff McFetridge Can’t Live Without

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photo: Getty Images

If you’re like us, you’ve probably wondered what famous people add to their carts. Not the JAR brooch and Louis XV chair but the hair spray and electric toothbrush. We asked graphic artist Geoff McFetridge — the subject of the recent documentary Geoff McFetridge: Drawing a Lifeabout the BIC pens he buys in bulk in Tokyo, the “inelegant” diving watch he’s had for decades, and the nylon tote bags he’s been using to haul his surf gear since the ’90s.

$6 for 12

These are my day-to-day pencils. They’re just simple pencils that have really good erasers on the end. When I’ve worked with animators, they’re like, “I only use Black Wings” or whatever. They’re probably better, but there’s something about a simple yellow pencil. With a lot of the studio pencils, the eraser wears out before the pencil does. It’s always a bonus when you get one where the eraser is still there.

I almost always draw in pencil, but these are a nice variation. A Japanese guy gave me this pen that just had his logo on it. And I started to draw with it and I couldn’t believe it. It has this superhard tip. It’s just a totally different pen compared to the BIC Clicks made in Mexico or the U.S. The tip felt rock hard, and then it was really smooth. So when I go to Tokyo, I buy 20 of them and just give ’em out or use them in the studio.

I wear white T-shirts almost every day. These wear really evenly — I’ll wear them until they’re destroyed, but they have a good life span. And the fit is really good — I’m a medium and it fits right. I used to wear Velva Sheen shirts, but I like that these are made locally here in Los Angeles. They’re made of reclaimed cotton fiber.

[Editor’s note: McFetridge wears this tee with a pocket, but that style has been discontinued. We’ve linked to a similar style without the pocket.]

I only run on trails — I don’t really do any road running. I’ve been running in Nordas now for about eight months. I normally run in the Altra Olympus, which is a great shoe that has a wide footbed. (I’ve put a ton of miles in the Olympus, and because they’re already so wide, if it stretches out at all or starts to wear, I think you sort of notice it more. It gets a little “floppy”-feeling.) But the Nordas are incredible. I’ve really put them through a lot, and they’re holding up way more than a regular trail-running shoe — they have a super-strong upper and a grippy Vibram sole.

I just discovered a few years ago that oats — just oats — are 15 cents a serving or something. When you go to the store, there’s all these kinds of oats, and I’ve tried them all: five-, eight-, ten-minute oats. Then, finally, I just bought a bag of organic oats. It’s just delicious. You just cook it on the stove with boiling water — so simple. To me, that was a revelation. And I like the packaging, which is basically a brown bag.

I use these pads for sketching, writing notes, and just keeping track of things. For me, it’s about the size of them. I can fit ten things or more on one page. It’s a rougher, slightly thicker paper, so I can go in and paint on them, or I can draw with pens and they can handle it. And then from there, I’ll pull things from that book and draw them and trace from them. It’s something I’ve used for decades, so I just like to stick with it. It’s something I don’t have to think about.

I have a bunch of these French nylon tote bags. They have a really good design that was copied a lot in the ’90s because they’re so simple. They had these big versions, which you can’t even get anymore, that can hold, like, four wet suits. You could almost climb into them. I’ve even carried my daughters in them. And they had a little inside pocket that zippers shut. You can basically just hose them out and throw ’em on the beach. They hold value from the memories I have when I first bought them, using them on surf trips.

I love Suunto because they still support their old products. All my Suunto watches are 10, 20 years old, and they keep doing software updates and they can get you parts and new bands. They’re cool because they don’t record anything, but if you’re on the trail or on a ride, you can check the altitude, or if you’re at the beach, you can be like, What’s going on with the barometric pressure? What are the winds gonna do? You can buy them on eBay for $50. It’s this really high-quality diving watch that’s sort of big and inelegant. But that’s what I like about it.

Both these things make skating better. Dialing in your setup is a luxury of being an adult. New bushings make your trucks turn twice as good and it just takes a little effort — and it only costs 12 bucks. And you can buy any bearings, but these are just the best. They cost, like, three times as much, but they’ve been around since I was a kid and I would never buy them. But now as an adult, I’m buying them.

I’ve been in this neighborhood in L.A. for 15 years, but lately, crime has been pretty bad. My studio got broken into about a year ago. It’s nice to feel secure, because getting broken into is a real violation. But now I really rely on this system. You don’t have to wire it — you can install it yourself, and it takes a half hour to install the entire system. And it beeps if anything gets triggered.

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What Geoff McFetridge Can’t Live Without