John Wesley is a 21 year old craftsman, shaping boards out of Dana Point, CA. Founded in 2010, ‘John Wesley Surf & Design’ continues the tradition of hand-shaping fine surfboards, whilst many in the industry have switched to CnC machines.
When did you start shaping?
I started shaping after glassing my friend Dodge’s shapes he was making out of his garage. That was around my last year of high school. I had a unique school schedule that left me with a lot of time to work, surf, and start building surfboards.
What was it like working with Terry Martin?
Terry was amazing, and probably the most encouraging person in the surf industry. When I really started to get some traction, he wanted nothing but the best for me. He instilled the idea that making surfboards can be fun, if you have the right mentality. He taught me to be thankful for having the ability to shape surfboards. That attitude has stayed with me. As a result…I truly enjoy every day I go to work, and I give people the best possible board I can. All of that stems from Terry.
What’s your favorite shape, in the John Wesley quiver?
Hmm…that’s a tough question. I really like both shaping and surfing the Spacepin. On those nice shoulder high off shore days I pretend I’m surfing Tavarau or something. Lately for the small summer combo beach-break stuff, the TFP has been my go to board. It all really depends on what mood I’m in at that point in the day. I always have at least 2 logs around…I’m really trying to keep my surfing balanced.
What would you say makes your boards stand out from the crowd?
Right now I’d say it’s how personal I make each board. I’m at a point in shaping where I have my set models, and a base line for them…but love when customers come to me, and throw out ideas that I really have to think about. I mill them over, then bam… it hits me. I go straight to the shaping room and blend all their ideas together, to make a functional board that’s exactly what they want. I would sum it up by the overall attention to detail I take, in every step of the process. I’m not just making boards that look different; the function and theories behind each board make them what they are.
You mentioned that your girlfriend lives up in the Seattle area…have you surfed in the Pacific Northwest?
No, I’ve never surfed up in the Pacific NW. I have spent time in Vancouver & Victoria. Everything about that area is absolutely beautiful. I’ve heard a bunch of about point breaks hidden away in coves, which I’d love to surf one day. Maybe see and orca go by….I don’t know.
You use a lot of great shots taken by, or featuring the Swansons. What’s your connection with them?
Yeah…Greg and Alex Swanson are really great kids. They’ve helped me out a lot, in more ways than one. We met up after I left the company I was shaping for. I told them that I wanted to do this for real…and on my own. They were really supportive with everything. I wouldn’t be where I am at without their involvement. It makes everything I do a team effort, and not just me.
How was your recent trip to Portugal?
Portugal was amazing… truly a trip of a lifetime. The waves and the countryside is something out of a book. I personally love Europe, and to be able to go and shape there because of Rui at Magic Quiver Surf shop…was unbelievable. It pretty much made my whole year. I’d like to go back at least twice a year.
What’s on the menu for John Wesley in 2012?
Basically, just keep pushing forward. To deliver the best possible work we can…with only hand-shaping . There will never be a CnC’ed JW. With Alex & Greg’s surfing and photography work… and my good friend Brandon doing a lot of design, we have a few projects for summer. Basically the team goal is to keep bettering ourselves in everything we do. We also have a few colabs coming up…
1. Alex Swanson
2. Christoph Haiderer
3. Greg Swanson