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Shaper Josh Oldenburg and ‘The Art of the Craft’

An unlikely creative partnership between the Starbucks Doubleshot Espresso brand and San Diego custom surfboard shaper Josh Oldenburg brings surfboard shaping into the spotlight in the final segment of a mini-documentary series titled “The Art of the Craft.”

Along with wooden surfboard builder Martijn Stiphout of Santa Cruz, Oldenburg's passion for shaping one-of-a-kind surfboards is at the heart of the third installment.

GrindTV interviewed Oldenburg to learn more about the creative process behind “The Art of the Craft.”

San Diego shaper Josh Oldenburg, focused on the task at hand; photo contributed by Starbucks Doubleshot Espresso
San Diego shaper Josh Oldenburg, focused on the task at hand. Photo by Starbucks Doubleshot Espresso

What is it about the process of surfboard shaping that elevates this act to a “craft”?

The act of hand-shaping a surfboard is what elevates my trade to a craft. Manufacturing a selective number of surfboards each year allows me to have the necessary time to hand-shape and create one-off boards.

Inside the shaping bay; photo contributed by Starbucks Doubleshot Espresso
Inside the shaping bay with Josh Oldenburg. Photo by Starbucks Doubleshot Espresso

 

What makes your designs experimental or unique?

My designs are unique because boards from the past largely inspire me. Being able to transform those inspirations into modern designs gives me a sense of freedom to incorporate new takes on old creations.

Inspiration and other tools of the trade; photo contributed by Starbucks Doubleshot Espresso
Inspiration and other tools of the trade. Photo by Starbucks Doubleshot Espresso

What is the most challenging part about being a local shaper?

The biggest challenge with being a local shaper is the level of competition and design standards. San Diego is a mecca for surfboard manufacturing. Industry leaders such as Rusty, Chris Christenson, and Jeff Mccallum are some of the best that are consistently pushing designs and stunning consumers. Just to be considered a builder/shaper among names like that is rewarding.

Josh Oldenburg stands with a recently finished board, ready for a test ride; photo by Starbucks Doubleshot Espresso
Josh Oldenburg stands with a recently finished board, ready for a test ride. Photo by Starbucks Doubleshot Espresso

How do you keep the process of surfboard design feeling fresh and creative?

The best way to keep designs and creativity fresh is through your forms of inspiration. My biggest advantage is that I build nearly 100 percent of my boards based on custom referrals for specific customers. Tailoring my designs to fit their needs always keeps the building process new and energized.