Interview With Josh Martin — Continuing the Legacy Of Terry Martin
Interview With Josh Martin – Continuing The Legacy of Terry Martin
Shaper Josh Martin comes from a surfing lineage few people have. His uncle was big-wave pioneer, surfer and shaper Mickey Muñoz and his dad one of surfings best master shapers, Terry Martin. Terry was one of the core innovators of surfboard shaping, his experience started in the 50′s and he shaped for Hobie for most of his career since 1963. Growing up with such rich history to draw from made Josh into the master craftsmen he is today. Josh shapes under the same label his dad did for so many years, Hobie, as well as under his own label, Martin Shapes. We recently had the honor of interviewing Josh about carrying on the legacy of his father and shaping.
Photos courtesy of Josh Martin
You grew up learning from your father, Terry Martin, one of the industries best and most influential master shapers. What was that like and how did your dad help influence your shaping?
We had a great father son relationship. He involved me in his interests and took interest in mine. Lots of ocean activities, camping, fishing, lizard and snake hunting, building things, relationship to our Creator, etc… I was in his shaping room at a very young age. Maybe 5 years old. He gave me a reject blank which I promptly carved eyes and gill slits into the rails and slapped a fin on the deck so as to create a “shark” board. I was and still am a bit more artistic in my approach to shaping. Probably comes from my moms Muñoz side of the family. She shapes textiles and natural materials into functional art in amazing ways. A brief look at my uncle Mickey’s watercraft creations would also give you a good idea. My dad was more math minded and liked to develop systems for streamlining his work. He was very patient in respecting my artistic side, yet instilling structure to my process. He provided me an opportunity to production hand shape in the late 80′s. Lots of short boards under my belt those years for Just Add Water, Gotcha, Dive n’ Surf even some Stussy’s. He kept a sharp eye on my “sheik beak” skills! It was a little intimidating to say the least calling myself a surfboard shaper for many years. I suppose I’d placed myself in a bit of a self imposed Terry Martin shadow when it pertained to shaping. Heck! his were big shoes as the most prolific and accurate shaper in history. He was always my biggest fan though and I am grateful for his influence every day.
What was different about your Dads approach to shaping from everyone else?
I’m not so sure it was so different as it was more refined. Many of the guys he shaped with in the 60′s and 70′s used tools and methods similar to his. It was the golden era of production hand shaping. I personally witnessed him hand shape 10 stock boards a day 5 days a week for years and years. His production method was accurate, refined and extremely efficient. It’s been said that he shaped over 80,000 boards. If you do the math that is actually a conservative estimate considering he had a 60 year shaping career. At least 30 of those years were a solid 8-10 boards a day. I say put him in the Surfers Hall of Fame!
Where are you at right now with your shaping?
It is easy, fun and satisfying. I’ve been blessed to have been given the skills so that I have a plan of attack for whatever I’m asked to or inspired to shape. One day you’ll find me building a traditional Balsa out of rough lumber and the next a batch of eps performance “latest things”. My dad would say he’s “having a gas” shaping for a living. Ha! whatever that means. I’d say that’s true for me.
Are there boards you have been making a lot of or enjoying making more than others right now?
I really appreciate all of them (the boards). It’s more about the surfer than the surfboard for me. I like to be at the surfers service. Imagine myself in their wave then shape them the right tool for enjoying their ocean. I shape a lot of traditional longboards. I suppose if I had to pick a favorite right now it would be shaping one of Rachael Tilly’s personal boards. She worked directly with my dad in the shaping room and does so now with me. She is an incredibly advanced surfer for her age. It is no accident she is our current women’s world longboard champion. Handcrafting a very refined, foiled and thin 9 foot piece of EPS into something she has so much fun and success on is a special privilege.
You love your Skil 100’s. Why is a Skil 100 so much better for making boards than any other planer?
I simply learned to shape with one. It was my dads planer of choice. There were not many options back in the 50′s and 60′s. The Skil 100 was really the best available option. I suppose if I’d learned with a Hitachi then it would be the best. The Skils are heavy, fragile and require service to stay working. They also work really good in my hands for sculpting foam. I like caring for and using them. Probably same reason some people keep and drive old cars. I prefer to drive my old Dodge diesel stick shift pickup.
Are you still shaping for Hobie or just under your own label, Martin Shapes?
I consider Martin Shapes to be a legacy that began with my dad and it is currently living within me. That legacy was grafted into the Hobie brand in 1963. It continues to be part of Hobie in that I hand shape Hobie Surfboards in the same fashion my dad did for nearly 50 years. I also shape boards simply under the Martin Shapes brand for those individuals who request them. There are some new and exciting things that look to be on the horizon for the Hobie brand. Hobie has been arguably one of the greatest ever surfboard brands. There seems to be a renewed interest in curating the roots of Hobie Alters surfboard legacy. I’ll relate it to film. Digital photography is great but we’re shooting real film, have a darkroom and develop our own pictures. Hobie’s continuing to build surfboards from US Blanks foam made right here in California, hand shape that foam by myself and Gary Larson with our Skil 100′s, the best glassers hand laminate them and they’re ridden by great surfers. I look forward to being part of that.
You also make Fins. Can you tell us about some of the fins you make?
My first job was at Hobie Surfboards in the late 70′s as the shop clean up kid. I quickly moved to making fins. It’s part of my story. I continue to make fins when I have time mostly because I simply enjoy it. I have some really great wood I’ve been building some surfboards from the past couple years. I’ve been repurposing the scrap into blanks that I send to Rainbow Fin. They build stellar functional works of art from that wood into a couple fin templates of mine. They do a better job with it that I would. Love working with them.
Where can people purchase/order your boards and fins?
Anyone can place an order through Hobie Surfboards or any one of the 5 Hobie Surfshops and specifically request I shape their board. I have a website and store at www.martinshapes.com and a regular Instagram feed @martinshapes. I welcome custom order inquiries directly. Contact me best via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
For more info on Josh Martin check www.martinshapes.com