The second part of the interview with Donald Brink is right here!


Take five minutes mate.

Credit: Parkin

Donald has a passion for life, the sea, but most importantly, his family. He wants to show the world how many possibilities you can have in the surf industry and how this creative process can become your job, or, your joy. His honest answers made me realize that at the end, we are all the same. Dreaming of something bigger, trying to strike for our goals. The path isn’t the same for everyone, but the love we feel for the sea is. As he told me, ‘’for me, surfing isn’t so much about an extended activity. I often just jump in the sea just to stay connected.’’

How long does it take you to finish a board?

You listen to a customer needs and you executed it. How long you spend making a board doesn’t mean it will be any better. I pace myself and I spent enough time on the board to get the look and the feel and how it rides. It’s no race, but it’s also not a numbers game for me.

What aspect of shaping do you like the best? 

I think seeing something change in front of your eyes while you’re working with tools, this is probably my favorite part. I get excited for every board I start shaping and whether it’s a wooden board or foam board, just starting with something big and ending with something small that you’ve imagined – that never gets old.

What’s your shaping philosophy?

My boards may look a little complicated, but I strive for simplicity and the concept in the shape. Good design and a simple flow, I feel this is what I design. They may look a little tricky, but when you are breaking down, it’s all the elements that work together.

What is unique about your boards?

I mean to push the limit of asymmetrical designs, and to be honest, it was nothing I was really familiar with when I started shaping. I grew up with a fascination for retro boards and all the twin fins and fishes that work pretty well on these waves, which make sense because of the way they were designed. I then embrace this part of the design. But the frustration of trying to ride something like that were very obvious. That’s why I assume the asymmetrical changes. That’s what I’ve been committed to: trying to make the right board for the right person to fit with their surfing. The way you feel on a surfboard is more important than the way you’re going to ride it, it’s about the elements. Making a board flow is about different parts, what you can put in and out of a board.

Are you conscious about the environment while shaping your boards?

Yes, I am. I don’t make that many boards for big companies so I am a little less concerned about the impact I have on the industry right now though. I design the most progressive and functional boards that I can, using whatever materials are available, but I am and have been working for long on boards that I can design within available specifications , environment referred materials or more sustainable option. I try to make the best boards, so if I can cooperate on something that is more beneficial to the environment I am 100% behind that and I do feel it’s the way the industry is going. It ends up with what surfing is at the end of the day: appreciating the environment and the way we approach that and what we choose to ride and how we ride it. It’s a lot more about the attitude than just building a board.

We tend to believe that when it’s good for the Earth, it’s automatically more expensive? Is it true?

Mine no. One of the reason I am creating a sustainable board, it’s because I think it’s going to last at least three to four times longer than a normal board. Which is, in my opinion, more sustainable and if you just built something with a different product it wouldn’t last any longer. So, if you can minimize your customer resale value – they save you to work more often. You are creating less products, which is a way to benefit the industry rather than creating bad products more often. That’s quite difficult when it comes to surfboard because, well, they’re so fragile. I tried to design boards that when you get older and bigger it will still be able to work. It’s called the Fancy Free, it’s on my website. The look and the construction of the board they only come one way, and that’s how they come. You make a bigger impact when you do fewer things I think.

You recently did an exhibit of your work, how did it goes? Do you think it’s important to share your passion for the sea with people around?

I had an exhibit at the Surfing Museum. It was an honour to be part of an expo like this. The conversation was great! The reality is that we are just blessed to be able to play in the ocean and all the other things we get to enjoy, and that we need to remember it more often. Sometimes it’s less about the boards than people might think, but that passion leads to really good boards and sustainable flow.

It seems like you always have a few projects at the same time. A short film with you have been released months ago, taking scrap wood to shape a beautiful surfboard. What do you like the most about this work?

I really enjoy building wooden boards, I think they are special and unique. Riding a piece of wood got an amazing sound and the feeling of riding a wave with it, unless you did it, would be quite difficult to explain. I really enjoy it, but it doesn’t make sense to buy woods to build a board. I’ve been working with VISSLA and the relationship is really good. They brought me a board, right in the beginning, and I could just see the birth of this brand, it was unfolding. I asked them for the pallets left for the first project of board and they were kind of intrigue of why I needed the wood and I was just like ‘’give me the woods, give me the woods’’, I wanted to create something that carries the foundation of a brand. It was a board made of wooden pallets, which, to me, was a good story, but the biggest and most underlined story was there was a story in the wood. It was the birth of the brand. To must create a memory of how it started, using that woods for something that was more beautiful and inspirational was what I wanted to do.

What are your future plans and goals? 

I got a lot of things, without giving too much away. I’ve got some projects I’m busy working on, trying to get the right people involved. Like I said, I really enjoy what I get to do, but I’m also realizing that I’m not a pro in the industry and I take that seriously. Sharing what I do is really important to me, not to get an exposure, but to spray the thought. Just to be able to show these things to more people with hope that they are going to inspire them. I’ve got some travel coming up that I look forward too, shaping in different countries. For me, it’s a dream to go at these kinds of places and see what they are shaping with and to see different perspectives. This isn’t a rocket science, you can go and build boards anywhere. 

Credit: John John Anderson

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