By: Joseph Licata
Who better to have making your next board than an architect and fabricator?
That’s what I though when I first spoke with Tyler (the Architect) and Mike (the Fabricator), of Wax Surf Co., about their boards. Boards mind you that are all beautiful pieces of wave-ridding art.
Maybe it’s the architectural nature of their lines or the simplistic coloring that makes them stand out, but all I know is that they do just that, stand out. I for one can’t wait to have my name on a custom job, hopefully just in time for summer sessions.
So in between chats about rails, color and size I ask the boys to share a bit about where their from, what’s inspiring them, and the process for a custom wax job.
What inspired you to start shaping boards?
Board building began out of necessity for us; being fresh out of college, boards were too expensive to buy but we were determined to have our own. We had access to shop space in Brooklyn and we’re used to working with our hands a lot, so we had the space and a real eye for the craft. At that time we had no idea how much we were about to fall in love with board building. Even though it was a frustrating battle learning how to shape and glass boards in the beginning, we kept at it. It was a real challenge. The act of crafting a board is so pure because its characteristics are performance driven; the shape is born from the feeling of surfing and trying to transcribe those feelings into realized geometry. Somewhere between the challenges of making a board and the love for surfing and understanding shapes, we became so completely addicted that it can be hard to convey. The feeling of shaping your own board, surfing it and having the time of your life is not like something either of us have ever felt. Every time I get in the water I think about how that feeling informs the shaping process and is manifested in the boards, which has helped us to evolve in our designs and shapes.
A lot of your shapes have really interesting design features, tell me a little bit about them and how you came to include them in your shapes.
Learning to surf out at Rockaway and not being very influenced by the super-saturated market of white performance short boards, we always wondered what a board design for east coast waves should look like. Steep, fast and powerful waves yield late drops, lots of close-outs and a really fast ride on bigger days. Some of the characteristics of our boards include an increased planning hull or planning areas, straighter, sharper or more down-turned rails which result on stubby noses and tails that are feathered out to being really thin. Since there are so many shapes and not enough time, a lot of the feedback that we take to shaping room is from our customers. We give them a basic idea of the principles of the shape and then customize that for their ability, size and goals for their own personal surfing. Getting feedback from a variety of surfers on a particular shape that is varied and customized for the individual has really told us a lot about our shapes and their respective details. We really pride ourselves on being able to provide a new experience and feeling for surfing since we try to so hard to interpret someone’s break and their surfing style. We make a board specific to that person.
Where are you guys from?
We are from the wild west, not the west coast. Mike is from Colorado and I am from Arizona. Not being from major metropolitan cities, as newly graduated architecture students, we were drawn to the biggest city in the country. We both came here to do architecture and had no idea we would discover something that most New Yorkers have no idea about even though they live on a coast.
Tell me a bit about the custom jobs… what’s the process look like?
I really like the analogy of the fitted suit; of course you can go buy a suit and you could look great in it if it fits you well enough, but a custom suit just has a different, more personal feeling. Anyone can buy a board off a rack, but I know that if that person spent five minutes talking to the shaper, that would board would be at least slightly different. Like the suit, it’s not that one is really better than another, but there is something special about partaking in the process of something that is a part of such an enthralling experience. The factors are you, the board, and the waves, and we believe that a custom board can really tie those things together in a personal way. For us the conversation with the future board owner is really special. Having done this so many times it’s always interesting to see what people value in their surfboards, from overall shapes to the most minute details—it’s really cool to learn about how people’s experiences surfing have shaped their own perception of what they think their surfboard needs to be. When a board is being shaped for a rack it is still a beautiful thing but when we shape boards we’re not thinking of making the sale or getting boards in shops, we are thinking of the conversations that we had with the future owner and trying to be as honest about that as we possibly can
THANKS WAX SURF CO.