FIN TALK with Tyler Warren
A name that has become synonymous with California surf culture, Tyler Warren is a world class shaper, artist, and surfer who enjoys as much time with a paint brush as he does with a planer. Tyler got his start in shaping at the age of 14 but found inspiration in fin and board design from a much younger age. Under the tutelage of Terry Martin, Midget Smith, Malcolm Campbell, Chris Chrtistenson, and Josh Hall, Tyler became well versed in surfing a wide variety of surf craft and getting to experience the board making process very early on.
Many of the surfboard designs Tyler has come to be known by today, such as the “Bar of Soap” based on the Mini Simmons theory, were not very popular and all but forgotten by the majority of the surf community. Slowly but surely, people took notice of the unique shapes and how well Tyler was surfing them. He came to be known as one of the few shapers who has the skills to make just about any board you can imagine. Tyler and his peers have influenced a revived approach to making traditional shapes perform at their highest level.
Seemingly everything Tyler touches turns to a beautiful piece of art, whether it's a foam blank or a plain canvas. Likewise, Tyler has a keen sense for balancing form and function in his designs. This has led to the development of the fin templates we have had the honor to create with Tyler. Over the years, Tyler has helped us establish some of our most popular fins such as the TW Pivot, Mod Keel, Bar of Soap, and Raked Flux. We got the opportunity to ask Tyler a few questions to learn more about these fins, how he balances certain shapes with specific fins, and where his surfing and design inspiration have stemmed from.
TA: How important is fin selection to you personally and how does it impact your performance in the water? Do you ever make adjustments to your fin selection based on specific conditions?
TW: Fins can make or break a board sometimes. A lot has to do with length, shape, tail design and bottom contours to get the most out of a fin.
Yes, I will change fins for certain conditions, sometimes using bigger fins for smaller waves and smaller fins for larger waves.
TA: Where does your inspiration for fin design come from? Does it originate from what you think you might pair well with your shapes based on experience, or is it more based on the feeling and feedback you get when you surf? In other words - does the cart come before or after the horse?
TW: I like fins with a constant taper and rake in the design and want it to look organic and give the surfer a feeling of hold, speed and release when they look at it and ride it.
TA: The TW Pivot is one of our best selling fins, can you talk about why you think that particular template performs so well and is so versatile for longboard surfing?
TW: I think it's a great combo of the Greenough 4a and say a pivot fin. For logs, a Greenough can maybe slide a bit easier than a pivot but with a pivot you may want more fluid drive and release on turns. I think that fin is a good blend of those two designs, and there has been a gap in longboard fin design since the mid sixties. With that fin I was trying to design something that I would see in the films like "Hot Generation".
TA: What fin setup are you most excited to shape and ride at the moment?
TW: Hard to say! I've been riding lots of quads and fishy thruster designs on smaller boards. On logs I ride a lot of my rake pivots or the Greenough Stage 3, If its a pintail I tend to go with my 10'' Raked Flux.
I am always trying different fins and making subtle adjustments to existing templates - keeps my mind and surfing evolving...
TA: You’re equally as skillful with a planer as you are with a paint brush and pencil. Do you ever try new techniques with foam that you discovered through painting or drawing?
TW: I have used some drawing techniques with shaping such as using different colored pencils to have multiple templates on a blank. I think shaping, and art are similar in process where you start off with a sketch or idea and slowly hone it into what you are thinking about.
TA: Who would you consider your biggest influence in the surfing world today?
TW: Hmm that's hard to just pick one, there are so many great surfers and shapers, Some of my favorites are people like Slater, Curren, Occy, Joel Tudor, Gerry Lopez, Wayne Lynch some shaping ~ Skip Frye, Rich Pavel, Donald Takayama, Terry Martin, and the Campbell bros.
TA: One board to take around the world, what would it look like and what fin would you ride?
TW: I would say a 6'6'' round pin with a fuller curve but pulled outline, 19 5/8'' x 2 5/8'' maybe a thruster with AM2 Large fins in front and a medium in the back.
All images shared with us by Sage Burgess. Thank you for being in the spot to capture these moments! Hope you enjoyed our interview with Tyler as much as we did - be on the lookout for our next edition of Fin Talks coming soon.