‘It Doesn’t Not Work’ pushes the limits of experimental surf craft in Brooklyn

Editor’s Note: The opening day for It Doesn’t Not Work has been moved to Saturday, May 20 with shaper drop-offs and installation beginning at noon and a Mike Nelson retrospective photo slide show beginning at 8 p.m.

For the past three years, a gallery in Brooklyn has played host to an exhibition that searches (and sometimes finds) the outermost limits of experimental surf craft.

It Doesn’t Not Work is the brainchild of Dave Murphy, Tyler Breuer and Toddy Stewart, and it offers shapers the opportunity to showcase their wildest incarnations of surf craft.

Murphy, founder of Imaginary Surf Co. in Brooklyn, took his event idea (that was a platform for shapers to experiment, collaborate and exhibit) to the NYC event aficionados of Breuer and Stewart — Breuer being the man responsible for the New York Surf Film Festival and Stewart having the connection with Picture Farm Production and Gallery as a director and editor.

Since then, it has been an exciting spring weekend filled with camaraderie, surfboard talk and creativity sparking. With the fourth iteration about to go down May 19-21, we caught up with Breuer to find out about what has become the surf event everyone in the NYC surf community looks forward to each year.

It Doesn’t Not Work kicks off May 19. Photo: Courtesy of Andreea Waters/It Doesn’t Not Work

In it’s essence, what is It Doesn’t Not Work?

Basically, it’s all experimental crafts that may or may not work, or “it doesn’t not work.” We wanted to get together local shapers to cross-pollinate ideas, get them sharing and create a really nice vibe to have a really good time.

From the beginning we wanted it to be as loose and easy as possible. We try not to make it too big of a thing with sponsors and something that feels too formal.

We wanted it to be very inviting, not feel intimidating and make people feel like they’re not going to be judged.

Open their minds to alternative surf craft at an early age. Photo: Courtesy of Andreea Waters/It Doesn’t Not Work

It’s definitely a much more laid-back vibe than lots of typical surf events.

Yeah, it ends up being more like a hang out of like-minded people with open minds. Some are more experienced than others, some are first-time shapers. It’s really cool, they all talk and crossbreed their ideas to a certain extent. A lot of people have formed friendships out it, which is really nice.

How many submissions do you typically get?

The first year we got about 20 shapers, last year it was a little over 30. This year we’re right around there. Anywhere from 25 to 30 shapers. We allow them bring almost as many boards as they want. We just try to fit everything in when they get there.

Friendships being forged over experimental surf craft. Photo: Courtesy of Andreea Waters/It Doesn’t Not Work

Do you ever deny submissions?

We have yet to turn anyone away. We’ve told a shaper here or there that six boards might be a bit much, can you do three instead? This year if anything, we’ve opened it up so that the zine we’re producing for it is going to include images and interviews with shapers from all over the world who couldn’t be here but still want to be a part of the concept.

So it’s open to more than just shapers in the Northeast this year?

We felt like there are a lot of shapers out there who love the concept and would love to be here, but unfortunately cannot. So just send us an image and do the interview questions and you’re good to go.

There are a lot of guys doing similar things all over, they don’t have access to it in their area. So it’s nice to give them some exposure.

Boards and surf photos abound. Photo: Courtesy of Andreea Waters/It Doesn’t Not Work

And we’re also going to have Mike Nelson and Matt Clark do a slideshow. They have incredible depth of New York surf history, so they cover almost the last 20, 30 years. Mike especially can really give some perspective to the fresher faces in the surfing community who are not as aware of the history of surfing in New York.

What have been some of the more outlandish crafts you’ve showcased?

[Laughs] There are so many. One year, a friend Albert brought in this board he made out of cardboard and foam from his TV packaging. He then wrapped it in packing tape. He took it then to the Fish Fry to try it out. That was definitely one of the weirdest ones.

A lineup of different surf craft. Photo: Courtesy of Andreea Waters/It Doesn’t Not Work

Everyone comes in with some different concept or angle. Mike Becker last year brought his bisect board, which is the board that folds in half.

Mike Becker explaining his bisect boards. Photo: Courtesy of Andreea Waters/It Doesn’t Not Work

Another one is Scott Tedeschi who has the surf shop Lightly Salted in Asbury Park. He printed outlines of surfboards on rice paper and mounted them on rectangular blocks of foam.

And Jeff Taylor, this guy is a legend. He made a mobile shaping bay. We usually set it up in the side room with lights and a rack and everything. He used to work for Winterstick Snowboards when they first came out in the late ’70s. They have that crazy fish shape. He does them on these finless boards, a similar Winter Sticks shape.

Jeff Taylor showing off the finer points of his Winterstick-inspired fish. Photo: Courtesy of Andreea Waters/It Doesn’t Not Work

Do the boards ever get ridden?

We try to run it the same weekend as the New York Fish Fry, so some of the shapers bring their boards down to see if there’s actually merit to the ideas or not. That’s really neat.

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