Carving lines: Kiwi surfboard designer rides the artisan wave

Carving lines: Kiwi surfboard designer rides the artisan wave
If you are a surfer, you may have hankered after a handcrafted surfboard tailored just for you? Graphic designer Jon Chapman-Smith has just that in Blank a company that offers custom-made surfboards.

The project started when Chapman-Smith was looking for a board for himself; not finding what he wanted in New Zealand he approached a local shaper, Noe Bridler; they made a hand-made board together and joined forces to create Blank.

Blank is less a money making venture than a creative out let for the 37 year old who enjoys working on a project that is a “labour of love.”

For his day job he is the creative director and co-founder of Fuman graphic design studio.

Chapman-Smith says his boards are “niche,” using alternative shapes that are starting to become more popular and accepted in surfing circles.

The boards are made to each person’s measurements, and are hand crafted here in New Zealand, and finished with the customer’s choice of design.

Each is styled to different designs, which all benefit a specific type of surfing; from beginners learning the ropes to experienced suffers on the larger waves.



The boards are made with traditional techniques, resin tinting, cloth inlays, fiberglass and polishing. He says the whole process generally takes “between three to five weeks, maybe six to eight weeks in summer; it depends on the demand.”

Blank’s most well known and well-regarded shaper is “master craftsman,” Nick Tansley;  whose boards Chapman-Smith used as a child. Blank currently works with two other surfboard shapers, Hayden Chamberlain and Noe Bridler.

So, why choose a tailored board over a machine manufactured big brand?

There isn't too much difference between hand crafted boards and commercial boards; but he believes his boards may last longer than manufactured boards as they are designed to meet each customers needs.

Global Industry Analysts Inc. estimated that the world surfing market is forecasted to reach $US13.2B ($19.22B New Zealand Dollars) by the year 2017 so there is definitely a market for surfing gear where Blank can find its place.



Blank also makes hand-painted skateboards built by Jared Diprose, as well as duffle bags.

Instagram for Blank: @boardsbyblank

Fuman is up for an award for the graphic design of Blank's marketing, in this year's Best Design Awards. For more, see bestawards.co.nz