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Kings Surfboard Glassing Q&A
Apr 25 '23

Kings Surfboard Glassing Q&A

Q&A

Kings Surfboard Glassing is a Brooklyn-based glass shop built on true craftsmanship and dedication to producing the most high quality surfboards in the world. We caught up with brothers Aaron and Drew Austin after a recent surf trip to El Salvador.

Aaron, you were telling me that you, Drew and some friends were going to El Salvador to try out some new demo boards — what boards did y'all take out there?

 

Aaron Austin: Yeah, we brought down five brand new boards that we spent the last couple of weeks working on. Drew has been working on some of these models for almost a year now and we really wanted to test some refined versions that he and I are really excited about.

Drew Austin: Yeah, ever since I started shaping I had a pretty clear vision of the boards. I wanted to aim them more towards alternative high performance. With a background in Shortboarding from my youth and a redefined love for surfing via alternative surf crafts in my late teens, I figured I wanted to go with something right in-between. This trip really allowed us to do the R&D needed for some of these designs consisting of a small "airboard", a modern fish, varying round tails and a single fin. I think another trip is gonna be needed real soon...

Where were you in El Salvador? Have you been before?

 

Aaron Austin: We started the trip at a spot we are familiar with in the Southeast Usulutan region but had to move West quickly to La Libertad in hopes of more swell. We found some fun waves around El Zonte, Punta Roca and even further out in La Libertad, but it was a mission almost every day to find something worthwhile.

 

Did you get any waves?

 

Aaron Austin: We definitely had hoped for bigger, more consistent surf, but had a lot of fun exploring a bunch of new spots in hopes that a new one would have something more to offer. All in all it wasn't a complete skunk. We surfed everyday, enjoyed good friends' company and really got to soak in the local culture.

Drew Austin: I laid in a hammock...a lot.

 

What is Kings Glassing? When did the project start? 

 

Aaron Austin: Kings Glassing started in the summer of 2021 when I got a studio in East Williamsburg. I had been glassing and working on surfboards with a buddy in CT, John O'Reilly, heavily throughout the pandemic when almost all my photo work disappeared.  Originally I got the space thinking I'd really start exploring some resin artwork ideas I had and then glass the occasional surfboard when it came through, but once I started a dialogue with local NY shapers, I found that there was a real need and I was excited to help. Drew moved to NYC that same summer and helped me with the build out then started sanding some of the boards that were trickling in. He started shaping a couple months later and Kings became his little baby too. It's running like a standard glass shop right now, no art panels or ding repair, just shaping, glassing, spraying and polishing boards for the most part.

 

Where did you and Drew learn to surf / where did y’all grow up?

 

Aaron Austin: We grew up and learned to surf on Maui. Our family took a vacation there in the summer of 2000 and we ended up never leaving. Drew was just a toddler when we "moved" there so he was jumping on a board at a really young age and trying to keep up with me and our middle sister.

 

 

What made you interested in starting Kings? What made you interested in starting a shop in Brooklyn, NY?

 

Aaron Austin: Moving to NYC ten years ago and having to really dial in my quiver for the East Coast conditions really sparked my interests in surfboards. Growing up and surfing in Hawai’i everyday I didn't think too much about what I was riding. I just grabbed whatever was around and would get a new board every couple of years. The waves are so consistent and powerful in Hawai’i that I never felt like I needed to match a board to a wave like I do here. My interest in glassing really started when I ordered a custom from John O'Reilly and he let me do the resin abstract on it with him. I had always admired board builders and glassers from afar, but not until that moment did I feel like I was capable of doing it. 

The shop in Brooklyn is close to where we live and central to our community. Once it became a reality, I was focused on becoming a bigger part of the growing NYC surf community and excelling board building on the East Coast. Being pretty open with who comes into the shop and reaching out to those in our surf community who have not historically been a part of the board building industry are aspects of the business that I want to continue and grow. Building three boards and raising $14,000 for Laru Beya has definitely been a highlight of the shops so far.

 

When Drew started working at the shop he reminded me about a story growing up that I had totally forgotten about. He was really young, like 8th grade, and had a project to shadow someone in a career that they admired. He chose Peter Labrador, a local ripper and surfboard shaper. Drew was super excited to hang out with Pete and learn how a surfboard was made, but then my parents transferred him to a different school and the project was sidelined. Drew's passion for design started pretty young. While he was at school in Santa Barbara he was exposed and mixed with a whole new group of board builders and surfers. This probably had the most influence on his desire to shape.


How did it feel to pick up the camera again and get in the water while you were in El Salvador? 

 

Aaron Austin: I really haven't had the time to take any personal photos since I started Kings. Photography was such a big part of my life for so long that I know I'll never be uncomfortable with a camera in my hand and the joy of taking a good photo still rings the same as it always has. I didn't mind throwing the camera in the housing and swimming around this trip because I didn't miss much surf-wise. It's something I'll always struggle with because I'd much rather be surfing than shooting, but I did really enjoy getting some good photos of my friends and brother on the new boards. Might even catch me at Rockaway with the housing more often...might.

 

Special thanks to our friend Kay Kim who was with us for a little while during the trip. He jumped behind the camera so Drew and I could get a couple photos together.

 

How is the summer looking like for you guys?

 

Aaron Austin: Busy! Orders are starting to come in for Drew after the slower winter months, we have a couple visiting shapers that are doing residencies, and I am working on more merchandise. Lots more in the works so it should be a very exciting summer.

 


How can someone go about getting a board from you guys?

 

Aaron Austin: You can reach out to us through our email or DM's. Drew just updated his website with a new intake system where he's offering a phone call to chat about your custom.

  

Kings Merchandise and Stock Surfboards

Aaron Austin — Studio Aaron Austin

Drew Austin — Austin Handshapes