Making Surfboards with Aaron and Drew AustinMaui-raised brothers Aaron and Drew Austin own a surfboard glassing business in Brooklyn, NYC called Kings Surfboard Glassing. Aaron went to school for photography, and has been in New York for almost 10 years, working in the industry. A few years ago, he got into surfboards with his good friend and decided to open up a business full-time with the help of Drew. When they aren’t surfing Rockaway Beach, they're working hard at the shop. Their goal is to make a positive impact on the NYC surf community, which grows stronger every day.
What originally drew you to New York City?
Aaron: What drew me to New York City was the energy. Just how ambitious people were. I’m constantly creating things, whether through photography, collage, surfboards, or paintings. People are totally committed to their crafts here, and I wanted to be around that.
Drew: I just found myself inspired by the city and the people. Also my family, having Aaron and our sister Natalie out here was huge for me.
How does your upbringing in Hawai‘i inspire your work?
A: My work is deeply rooted in my upbringing in Hawai‘i, from the colors, to being on the beach, to just my true passion for surfing. There’s not a cooler thing you can make with your hands, right? I’ve had a surfboard under my arm almost my entire life, to be giving that joy to someone else, is a pretty incredible feeling. I’m always happy about it.
D: It means everything to my work. I wouldn't be doing what I am doing with my Hawai‘i upbringing.
Have you found any similarities between Hawai‘i and NYC?
A: There’s a community feeling in New York, just like in Hawaii. It’s usually artists and other creatives that are helping to build the surf community. There’s also a ton of passion for surfing in New York, which a lot of people don’t know. When they think of surfing in New York, they typically think about the cold water, you know? But from the surf shops to the board builders, to the surf schools, there’s an incredible drive to surf and get better at surfing, but still have a blast doing it.
D: Absolutely, I feel like in Hawai'i there is so much life and love that goes into peoples craft that the outcome from whatever they're doing is always something special and in NYC people hustle so hard to make things happen you can't help but notice the beauty in the craft as well. In both places it feel like creatives really just are putting themselves into their pieces.
What does your artistic process look like?
A: When I have the freedom to do whatever I want on a surfboard glassing-wise, I really like taking the shape, figuring out where it’s gonna be, who’s gonna be riding it...and then I kind of decide on the color scheme, the colors that pop, and the layout from the cut lab, to the pin lines to the spray that all complement the shape of the board. It’s not just throwing colors on there and hoping it works. There’s a vision behind whatever I’m doing.
D: Aaron and I will kinda discuss the shape and history of it. By looking at the past we can kinda bring aspects of traditional surfboard building while also adding our own touch.
People don’t always realize there’s a surf community in NYC. Can you talk a little bit about that?
A: There’s a ton of passion for surfing in New York. From the surf shops, to the board builders, to the-the surf schools, there’s a lot of really cool things going on within the community in New York. And that’s happened in the last few years here. The surfing community in New York is made up of creatives, from painters, to sculptors, to web design, marketing, publishing books. This group of friends that I surf with, they inspired me. Rockaway in the last few years has really spurred this creative movement and surfing has a big part of that. People are creating businesses that they want to run and own because they love that space so much. They’ve come from the creative field and they have those entrepreneurial skills to create a business in a community that they love. And that’s what we’re doing with Kings.
D: It simply just gets way too cold for people sometimes and the city has such a huge pull to it, surfing is one the last thing people are thinking about in NYC. For us we just really wanted to form a community out here where shapers and surfers felt comfortable and supported. We want to uplift our shapers the best way possible by giving them the best product possible.
Top 3 places to surf in or around NYC?
A: My favorite places to surf in New York are, of course, Rockaway because I can get there in 20 minutes. There’s some pretty fun waves and I always see a bunch of buddies when I go out. I spend a lot of time in Jersey because I’m regular footer and they mostly have rights. And Long Island, there’s a ton of spots in Long Island, but it’s a drive.
D: The Rockaways and Long Island are two most accessible places, and for some really good beach breaks New Jersey is only an hour and half drive away.