Making It: Shawn Stussy

Interview by Carletes Saez.

My personal introduction to Shawn happened in the late 80s when I saw his signature in a skateboarding ad for the very first time. I was about 10 years old at the time and it caught my eye. I could’t really read what it said, but it was beautiful and different – that was all I needed to know.

Time has passed, and not so long ago, I came across what Shawn is up to now. I discovered he sold his old namesake company and has gone back to the roots of what he loves. I got interested and wanted to know a bit more about his crafts.

When I saw them, I got the same feeling I got that first time I saw his signature. The surfboards he shapes are beautiful and different, just like the ad from 20 years ago. Shawn is not polluted by trends, or by people pushing and telling him what to do. He just does his thing – constantly delivering quality in a very unique way…the Mr. S-Double way… always standing firm. Here, he tells me a bit about how it’s done.

At what age did you get interested by surf and it’s culture? How did it suck you in? When did you decided to become a shaper? Do you remember the first time you got obsessed with surfboards?

I was 13 when I first really started surfing, and also 13 when I made my first board. It was from a cut-down old tanker that my older sister had alongside the garage. It was the summer when the shortboard revolution hit. Both longboards and the new shortboards were made for one summer only…then all of a sudden you never saw a longboard again. Poof. Gone. That was until Herbie started to ride his big boards at Trestles in the 80s. That kinda was the only time you ever saw a longboard outside of San-O.

Your art is truly amazing. What is your background in art – were you formally trained or did you teach yourself somehow? Please, tell us a bit about how it all started.

I have no background in art. I grew up around a family-run printshop, so I think I got some layout kinda gene from that?… I don’t know, nor do I think too much about it. Shit just needs to flow from wherever it comes from.

Please describe your creative process, style and how ideas are born?

Again, I can’t try to explain that kind of thing. For me, it’s all about the project, what is needed to do today to move down the line. Could be shaping one day, then working on some hats or choses the next…just deal with what is in your face that day, wrap your mind around it, and try to make some good decisions.

Where do you look for inspiration, in and out of surfing? What are you general influences, anything that inspires you, favorite artists, blogs, music, objects…?

I really just keep my eyes open and work on being engaged in my surroundings. So many things are thrust at you now. There is no way to keep up on all the hipster stuff unless you are just glued to your screen. And that is no way I can live my life. I get inspiration by hanging with my boys and just being alive. How is that for a vague answer?…

How do you approach creating a new shape or model? Do you have in mind a specific tipe of wave or surfer when you are shaping?

Many types of waves, many types of surf styles, many years of experience, some good idea mojo…put all that shit in the blender and see what happens!

What do you find yourself enjoying most these days? How have your interests changed and evolved over time?

I enjoy the journey. What is on the plate for today? I am actually the most happy working in the yard all day, not answering the phone and knowing the tide will be just right in the late afternoon.

Could you tell us 5 things people don´t know about you?

1. I am not as dumb as I look, THANK GOD… 2, 3, 4 and 5. you don’t know these things, and I am happy to keep it that way.

What would be your favorite 5 records of all time?

Wow, that is a really hard question to answer…the group would for sure include Tom Waits, David Bowie, Chet Baker, Rolling Stones, Stan Getz, Champion Jack Dupree and so many more. It is just weird to pick five…

I really enjoyed the look of your new boards, the bold colors, the clean shapes and the concept of the crafts. How was the reception of your new project, s-double? Are you happy with it? What is your goal for it?

Stoked you enjoyed the look of these boards. No goal, just life. Shape ’em up and have fun.

Could you give some tips to someone who wants to become a shaper or who wants to start his/her own project or business?

Learn to hand shape before taking the computer route. Nothing compares to hogging with an old Skil 100 planer.

For more of Shawn’s latest, check out his website at http://www.s-double.com/