Stoked to share this window into the world of top bonzer Austin. He tells us about his Jedi mind tricks, sunset sliders, art and the importance of shaping skateboards. Enjoy!
Hi Austin, how are you?
I am well. Just getting my day started.
I had a great weekend! I had a chance to ride to a board I have been shaping. It has been raining here a bit so it was good to get out and was super fun! How did your weekend turn out?
Great. Where is here?
San Francisco, California
What board were you shaping?
I am working on a board that is in between our Super Fatty and our Da Kine skateboards. It is a double kick that has a 19-20in. wheelbase with a little rocker and pressed with 7-ply maple. It’s light, the rocker is great and the wheelbase is prime.
When did you start shaping boards?
Well, I started working with wood growing up. My friends and I used to shape 5 foot pieces of wood, put skateboard trucks and wheels and go head first down hills. But I shaped my first skateboard when I got out of college. It is really fun to shape wood, try things you might like, find things you don’t. I recommend to any rider to cut a new shape out of an existing shape or solid wood you will have a great time.
“I recommend to any rider to cut a new shape out of an existing shape or solid wood you will have a great time.”
If you already like a shape – why cut it?
If you like a shape don’t cut it – done and done. Call me crazy but there is most likely something you might want to change about your board either with performance or aesthetics. On top of that… who wants the same board as everyone else? But I am sure you have a shape in your quiver that never gets touched or take a raw piece of wood that’s what I started shaping with. Shaping is really fun! It’s an experiment in discovery even if your shape sucks your efforts are not wasted. Since when is skateboarding all about performance anyway? It’s fun to play,have fun, dammit! You will find different shapes allow you to explore different things and a good shape doesn’t sacrifice performance; it enhances it.
“Since when is skateboarding all about performance anyway? It’s fun to play, have fun, dammit!”
What is wrong with the boards on the market?
It is always nice to improve on performance features from what it is on the market. You have that liberty to do what you want. For me it is really fun to ride different sizes and shapes they each have a different ride and feel. I like having a quiver. Shaping satisfies my curiosities and my desire to make f$#^ing rad skateboards. But giving super talented skateboarders the chance to make a skateboard empowers them and definitely brings something new, different and typically better to market. What is most rad is not only the board but what the skaters do with it after they shape it and that definitely helps make our market bigger.
“Shaping satisfies my curiosities and my desire to make f$#^ing rad skateboards.”
What are your favourite shapes to make?
I really enjoy it all. My favourite shape is when it’s so rad you can’t do anything but put it down.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Trumbull, Connecticut.
When & why did you move out to Cali?
I moved to San Francisco in 2001 to go to college.
What took you out West?
It’s all bigger and better in the west.
What did you study?
I studied Psychology and Marketing.
That doesn’t really sound fair to the unsuspecting.
It’s not what you think. I learned how to help people. It’s funny that people think you’re psychoanalyzing them or something but I don’t know how to do that. That’s all in your head ha ha.
Do you use your powers for good?
Always for good. Marketers are good liars but I don’t believe in that BS. For me, it doesn’t make sense to confuse people.
Can you share some instances where you’ve used your powers to spread stoke?
Have you heard of the Golden Gate Park Race? It’s a race I host to bring the skaters of the Bay Area into San Francisco to have a rad time. It’s pretty awesome; we race through Golden Gate Park, BBQ at the beach and then have a slide jam in the afternoon! The purpose of the event is to bring skaters together and it definitely spreads stoke! If you are in the Bay Area come to the Golden Gate Park Race–January 25, 2015; Race starts at 12 noon. http://goldengateparkrace.tumblr.com/
How did you get into skating?
I got my first skateboard when I was like 6 – it was all plastic but was super stoked on it and I will never forget it, it was all yellow! I skated most of my life but when my friends were trying to learn tricks in the 90’s I would hike the hills and skate the hills around them. When I came to San Francisco I started to skate the most I ever had. The hills in San Francisco are endless and pure and Muni provides the cheapest lift to the top. It was and still is my way of getting away from it all. It’s Bonzing to the max!
What do you like about skating hills?
WWwwwwhhhhhhaaatttt! The hills! I like everything about them. They are pure; they take you places and keep you going. Drifting and being on the inside of a turn feels pretty amazing. Tackling all and everything in between is radical. My heart is in the hills.
“Skateboarding can provide pretty unreal experiences and we describe those special times with the word Bonzing. When you nail that trick you been working on, slay that canyon line, or your kicking with a rad crew and its on – that’s Bonzing!”
What is Bonzing?
First and foremost it is a skateboard brand of shapers and artists from San Francisco, California. We shape skateboards to be timeless, savage and durable and exclusively support skateboarders for our artwork. To prevent deforestation we press our skateboards with FSC certified wood and a portion of every sale goes directly back to the shaper and artist who created your board.
Skateboarding can provide pretty unreal experiences and we describe those special times with the word Bonzing. When you nail that trick you been working on, slay that canyon line, or your kicking with a rad crew and its on – that’s Bonzing!
How does one become a Bonze?
I don’t know how you become a Bonze but if you want to Bonz, getting rad and having a sweet time is what you need to do.
Do you have initiation rituals?
Make a dope video of you skateboarding and having fun.
Are you an artist first and skater 2nd?
I would say I am a skater first but aren’t they the same? Right?!
What are your favourite Bonzing moments?
That is a big question but they typically involve the San Francisco hills, Sunset Sliders, Norcal and homies!
What’s your relationship with the sliders?
I have been here from the beginning and helped form the group. I sometimes organize the nights, drive the bus but ultimately help Big Dave any way possible!
Who is big Dave?
Big Dave is the reason the Sunset Sliders exist, he is the reason we have a rad bus that takes hoards of skateboarders weekly in San Francisco and on epic skate trips in the summer and throughout the year. Dave is a genuine, loving person, who loves skateboarding. If you ever get a chance to meet him you will not be disappointed.
Give us some insights on those early days!
Ok… the 1st sliders session Dave, Doug and I skating Quintara. I was skating with gloves and pucks… typically I would stand up slide, power carve, no gloves. Now I skate with gloves all the time. It’s definitely a trip to think about. Big Dave set out to make a rad crew in San Francisco and he did! The Sunset Sliders are family.
Aside from shaping boards, what do you guys do?
We have an awesome apparel line and sell skaters artwork. We also defend good times! Read it here first; Bonzing is a dope brand and you could pay attention to us because we exclusively support skateboarders for our artwork, to prevent deforestation we use FSC certified wood and a portion of every sale goes back to shaper and artist. But you should pay attention because we are rad skateboarders doing awesome things and creating unbelievable, timeless and kick ass skateboards. I would say, don’t you care about directly supporting skateboarders? Don’t you care to get something that is not corporate gnar? Don’t you want something that is rad, raw and uncut? If you care than it’s in your interest to check out Bonzing Skateboards.
Have you done much skating outside NorCal?
All of California is great for skateboarding, the northwest has some amazing skate parks and hills and I have enjoyed skating Vancouver and Giants head in Canada.
Tell us about events you’ve put on in the past!
They are rad and awesome and I hope you can attend one. I host the Golden Gate Park Race and an annual Art show for Bonzing that features artwork of skateboarders. From 2008-2011 we hosted the Downtown Run Around. We had a half pipe and BBQ right in front of city hall and had races through San Francisco throughout the day, I might bring that event back.
When did you first put this art show on?
The first Art show was in 2012 and this year we will have another in the fall. All of the art presented are created by skateboarders.
How does the skate community respond to this event?
They love it! Creativity and expression are skateboarding and its an awesome to see your peers doing exactly that in a different avenue.
What’s your plan for the rest of the year?
This year we are introducing 4 new boards; a street deck, a hybrid and a completely new downhill line up! If you are looking for a new deck check BonzingSkateboards.com. We will also be having more art shows and events so stayed tuned.
What do you do when you’re not skating?
Enjoying the lush habitat of San Francisco, chasing girls, eating good food and shaping skateboards. I also work part time for the San Francisco Symphony.
Pick 3 numbers between 1-20.
3, 8, 16.
3 – what crime are you most likely to go to prison for?
Something I didn’t even know I did.
8 – what did Lincoln keep under his hat?
His middle finger!
17 – What is Victoria’s secret?
She is whore, but a really good whore.
Thank you so much for all your patience and time. Wish you continued bacon, stoke and bonzing!
Big shout out to Team Bonzing, Sunset Sliders and my Family. I love you all.