So these days a few changes are taking place - I'm gonna try to describe 'em the best I can.
Katie and I built a new shaping room/hangout/showroom/studio in downtown Santa Barbara over the past few weeks. Its been in the works for quite some time, but its finally done and today I shaped the first board in my new room, which was full of jitters and adjustments.
The major difference in the new space is the lack of a glassing zone. Its been just shy of 10 years glassing the majority of my own boards, and I've tried to keep up with that as best I can over the past few years; though with all the shaping on the road I've been having my friends down at Jeff Hull's shop in Ventura glass handfuls of my boards here and there to help me keep up between trips. Jeff actually glassed the second board I ever shaped, as I had decided glassing wasn't for me after number 1...then I ate my words and fell in love with it but thats neither here nor there!
The last few years of the travel-shaping thing has taught me a lot about having other folks glass my boards as I don't glass on the road usually - its built a lot of trust in me and shown me a different way to live my life - when I'm on the road, my task is simple, and straightforward, and enjoyable, and still totally exciting. Its shown me that I can let go of the thought that I have to glass all of my own boards to be totally proud of them.
From where I stand these days, in order to keep my sanity and health I have a few options; to either glass all my own boards raise my prices and attempt to quell the amount of orders I've got - or I can keep grinding away seven days a week in my one room shop with a few helping hands when necessary, which hasn't reeeeeally been working for me. I'm not currently as happy and involved in my own life as I'd like to be, so continuing on my current path looks like prolonged over-stressing and eventual burnout in the next year or two. Continuing to glass them all and raising my prices I think would defeat a lot of things that I enjoy about building surfboards - I like being accessible, I like kids in high school saving up to buy a board and coming out to order it, I like people discovering what a v.Bowls will do to their surfing, I like my boards being custom but not "boutique". I think I'd harsh that entire mellow by pricing boards too high, and thats no good.
SO my solution is rather simple, lessen my glassing as much as I can, and let a handful of guys I trust glass the shit out of my boards from here on out.
I still have my glassing space, but my glass work will focus back on experimental ideas and boards where people specifically request that I glass it - which is fine by me, but it'll take a little extra time if thats cool with ya'll.
This is a transition thats been coming for years, and I've tried a million ways to avoid it, but the timing is right, and I've settled with the things I need to in order to shift gears and now I'm excited to do it this way. The guys down in ventura have glassed enough of my boards to know how to do what I like. I stand behind their work and trust them with my boards, and I always like employing good people, so this won't be too hard!
Fun while it lasted, but I'm sure I'll look back and wonder what the F I was doing...
Two little shorts of uber homie Simon Murdoch on a twin fin Piggyback - the first clip is his first session on the board, and the latter the two settled in a bit. I couldn't believe that was Simon's first go on that board, and more, that style of board - Worth noting. Total G.
One week into Shapetastic Voyage 2014 and 32 boards down over the last 10 days - 12 more boards to go before I leave the East Coast - I thought it may be a good time to give a little breakdown of how the Voyage works and how it started. There have been some radically hilarious rumors about me and how this all works; the best being that I come from a wealthy family and have a trust fund - which would be a great conclusion to jump to, and is completely untrue, so I'll break it down; 5 years ago I was lucky enough to be invited to shape in Portugal by Rui Ribeiro at Magic Quiver Surf Shop. He ordered a handful of boards, enough for me to pay for my plane ticket to and from, Nico (Wavegliders Surfboards), the shaper I would be staying and working alongside offered me a bed to crash on, so I jumped at the chance - that ended up growing into a visit to work in France the next year, and then a stop to work on the East Coast in New Jersey on the way home - this is the blueprint for every year since, and it keeps growing. Enough work for a plane ticket, enough time, and whatever floor or couch or *fingers crossed* bed, is available, and I'm there.
Magic Quiver as well as other shops all over the world do the same with many other shapers. Rich Pavel and Malcolm Campbell have been on similar travels yearly now for a long time and have opened huge doors for other shapers to do the same. Fortunate is a word that comes to mind, and I do my best to put my head down and work for my opportunities; to build good surfboards so that I'm asked to come back and do it again. Its rare that I get to surf great waves along the way, though I have gotten lucky here and there! I'm normally shaping 13 or 14 days on end, and on the 15th I'm gone and extremely grateful, hands raw, totally exhausted and exhilarated - Last year I shaped nearly 200 boards on the road in 4 months - To say that I love my work is an understatement, and to be able to do it on the road is a great privilege. This year is the first year I've been given a hand for the Voyage, and its offering me to opportunity to travel to a few more out of the way spots and make some more experimental boards on the road - Stetson has been an extremely nice partner to develop a relationship with and I'm humbled by their support and faith.
The generosity and openness of people I've met makes me excited to start again every summer. It never ceases to amaze me how welcome people make me feel and what they so easily share - stories, experiences, wisdom, and new opportunities seem endless.
So if you want, and you try, and you aren't afraid to work, you don't need a magical bank account or a grand scheme - build lots of human relationships and keep surfers happy, they are always hungry for new boards. I grew up a very shy and quiet kid, and one thing life so far has proven is that if you open yourself, others will open to you.