It doesn't not work…There's never been a more beautiful way of describing our collective open-mindedness when it comes to surfboard design today. A decade ago, we were all clamoring to get on the same old sled: Three fins, 18-wide, throw in some rocker, and we were happy. But today, we're embracing the craft as whole—warts, asymmetrical rails and all. "Get weird" is our battle cry. It's with this mindset that Tyler Breuer of New York City founded his eclectic exhibit, It Doesn’t Not Work. Now in its third year, the event is attracting leagues of shapers who display their latest concepts to their peers and who sing the praises of the odd, brilliant, and wonderful shapes on display. We spoke with Breuer after last weekend’s gathering at Picture Farm Gallery in Brooklyn and talked about the exhibit’s history, his favorite pieces, and why he thinks we're entering a golden age in surfboards.
For those who are unfamiliar with the exhibit, can you describe what it's all about?
Basically, we're supporting the fringe side of the craft by having shapers submit non-traditional boards to our exhibit in New York City. There are so many people tinkering with board design these days, and there are so many backyard shapers doing rad things. I have this belief that the backyard guys are progressing design right now more than the mainstream is. Some of the best boards have been happy accidents, like Occy's ’84 board with the misaligned fin. That's the genesis of this whole project — to celebrate the craft as a whole, no matter how different the shapes are, and to get surfers and shapers together to collaborate.
How'd you come up with the name for the show?
That was actually from [shaper] Dave Murphy, who came up with the entire idea for the exhibit. The name plays into how subjective board design is. You can look at a board and say, "It doesn't…not work. It'll float," no matter how funky it looks. Does it really work? Who knows? That's up to the rider, and they're all different. One person's lemon is another's magic board.
How has the feedback been since you started in 2014?
Our first year, we had 10 to 14 shapers. Now, we're more than double that. It's growing, but we're trying to keep it as rootsy and close to the original show as possible. We're intentionally trying to not make money from this and just make it for the people. Keep the expectations low, no obligations, and make it similar to what it was supposed to be: A bunch of people having a good time and celebrating the love of the craft and the community. We actually had our first sponsor this year, but they were just donating beer for the night. We're all so busy with our day jobs that we don't want too much pressure. We just want to keep it light and easy and fun.
Was there a submission this year that stood out to you the most?
Oh man, where do I begin? There was this guy, Johnny Borbone. He does these crazy micro-teardrop, super-pulled-in tails. It looks like you have to practically stand on the nose, but man, they're gorgeous to look at, the beautiful fishes and single fins with deep channels. There were some paipo boards and some other designs that bordered on art pieces. There was a guy named Kyle Black who submitted a crazy twin-hull board. It almost looked like a stingray. I'm really curious to hear about how they go in the water.