This January we’ve been diving into the spirit of learning for learning’s sake. Recently, we asked Chris Blue, Operations Manager at 7TILL8, to let us into their world to show us a thing or two about learning to shape. We were keen to dive into all the emotions, ideas, inspirations, and challenges that come up when we embark on something brand new.
What type of challenges did you come up against while trying to learn how to shape?
A big part of learning is accepting that the challenges and mistakes are not only inevitable but inform the process.
Not having a shaping bay at first, encouraged me to look into the AutoCAD to CNC Cut Blank route, — I didn’t have the space when I started so at the time, I figured I could just get the board 90 percent of the way there and shape the remaining of it outside if I ended up having no other option. The 7TILL8 shaping bay was definitely a blessing.
I’ll say there’s still a lot I don’t know about shaping. I’ve learned that shapers, more often than not, get their knowledge from other shapers. And if we think about the surf from a demographic standpoint, this actually isn’t surprising or intriguing to me at all.
What type of emotions have surfaced during your learning journey?
Excitement — I’ve learned my brain and body like learning new things and especially, in new ways. The feeling of starting a new practice or learning something new is ultimately invigorating for me.
What has been the greatest contributor for gaining confidence?
Imposter Syndrome is a really wild thing. It took me so long to get into surfing let alone shaping and usually, the fucked up question that comes up for me is “Do I belong here?” I could be in the water or in the shaping bay alone, but the culture around shaping and surfing is still very Bro-Mountain-esque.
How does your background in sculpture play into all this?
There’s always an urgency to have my hands working on something – shaping, sewing, dirt bike, drum samplers, etc. NYU was a conceptually heavy program — and since, there’s been something very rewarding about having an image of something in my head and subsequently going through the process of bringing it to life.
What have you found to be the most helpful tool in this journey of learning?
Having a good sense of how my brain and body work. This awareness makes for a more enlightening process, being that I may in fact learn something I wasn’t looking for.
What keeps you learning and shaping?
Motivations are usually influenced by a mixture of what I am reading, listening to, or watching. Lately, I’ve been listening to my guys, Luster and podcasts featuring George Heaton (Represent Co.) intending to learn more about his company and approach to supply chain. But it was actually hearing about George’s experience with 75 Hard (a program created by Andy Frisella to improve physical and mental health) that I found to be motivating as a learner and shaper.
What are the takeaway lessons you’ve gained from learning to shape?
Shaping isn’t any less wasteful than fashion or the art [industry] — I’m not interested in making a ton of shapes or boards. In fact, with the model I’ve been working on, I’m pushing myself to think about ‘What’s the smallest quiver one could have?’