It’s rare that anyone in surfing wouldn’t know the Jones family name, but for those that need a refresher, Brock Jones is the son to one of the sport’s greatest shapers of all time, Bruce Jones. Brock currently is at work with his own budding shaping business in Southern California and Europe, around a year after his father’s passing.
Bruce Jones grew up in parts all over southern California, and was an avid beach camper in places like Rincon, Trestles, and Doheny Beach, where he actually caught his first wave in 1960, at the ripe age of 15. Jones’ love for everything surfing developed over his life working from surf shop to surf shop, and being constantly immersed in the surf culture that is Southern California. Bruce found his niche and began shaping boards in the early 60s for the likes of Hobie, Brewer, and Gordie, until he branched out on his own and began his thriving shaping business in Sunset Beach, California.
Bruce Jones Surfboards, and the shop based out of Sunset Beach, has recently closed in light of Bruce Jones’ sudden and tragic death in January of 2014. However, the Bruce Jones brand and legacy in Southern California is not gone. Apprentice to his father, Brock Jones is continuing his father’s tradition of excellence, ingenuity, and style in the surfing world. With the same passion and skill set as his father, Brock is launching Jones Shapes as a concurrent shaping business to his father’s surfboards which he is still producing.
Catching up nearly a year after the loss of his father, Brock gives us the inside scoop on where Jones Shapes is headed, as well as the future of Bruce Jones Surfboards for fans near beaches in and around Southern California, and at countless other breaks globally.
What sort of inspiration has your father, Bruce, had on your love for surfing and the shaping business?
I guess my dad broadly and indirectly inspired me to be and work like him. He always left an impression on me. He was quiet and stoic. If he had an issue, you rarely heard about it. He always appeared calm and positive. I’m not sure exactly where it came from, but he took that attitude to work with him every day and that struck me as simply cool. He wasn’t always organized, but he knew how to plan and take calculated steps and in the shaping bay was where one noticed this the most. He approached his designs and shaping with a functional methodology and a clear head. That left an impression.
In addition to that, my dad never really put pressure on me to surf or shape. I appreciated that a lot, as I saw many of my friends being pushed into things like weekend soccer and boy scouts. I hated boy scouts. Bruce just took me places and showed me things. That was my biggest source of inspiration. I think the time he devoted to me was special. Shaping, listening to his feedback and applying his knowledge was my way of giving back to him.
What is one of the most important lessons or skills your father taught you about shaping?
This might sound strange but the first thing he taught me was how “to see”. He would always tell me, “Shaping is seeing.” Before I was even allowed to pick up a tool he would have me examine his work to see if I could SEE any highs or lows in his rough planing. When I finally started finishing off his rough shaping, he would often leave behind little flaws purposefully to test me, to make sure I was paying attention. Sometimes I caught them, sometimes I didn’t, but that was his way of teaching me. From that I learned how to step back and be a little more mindful of what I was doing.
Secondly, he taught me how to do everything by hand, which makes me feel incredibly responsible to the craft. I think the coolest thing he taught me in those regards was how to really “let loose”, as he would say, with a Skil 100 planer equipped with a sanding drum.
Moving forward, what do you want your customers to take away from Jones Shapes’ logo: ‘Give, Love, Fly’?
My father truly believed in his designs and methods, which I think were born out of a love for seeing how much pleasure they gave to so many people. That is the craft spirit that I am embracing as we move forward.
To add to this, part of what I want our customers to take away from Jones Shapes and its slogan ‘Give. Love. Fly.’ is progression, with a tremendous regard for the influential craftsmen who came before us and who I am still learning from. I want our customers to know that I am devoted to my industry’s history and legacy.
We’ve noticed your designs for Jones Shapes are very streamline and retro, with occasional wood inlays. How would you explain your personal shaping style?
I tend to prefer sleak, uninterrupted outlines with gentle curves. My dad was obsessed with curves…ellipses, which were always a focal point in his lessons: how to make an outline flow so that it has function and rack appeal. This is important when designing a template or banding a rail. I think that my personal style hasn’t deviated too much from my dad’s in these regards.
I definitely enjoy working with wood tail blocks. Though they don’t have much or any function, I believe they show off one’s commitment to craft and are a great decorative feature.
What can surfers expect in the future for Jones Shapes?
In general, I think there is something sexy about the Bruce Jones design tradition, and I’m excited to show that off in a new way and to a younger crowd. We can definitely expect to see the Bruce Jones staple shapes like the Retro Noserider, for example, but I look forward to continuing my dad’s obsession with ellipses and finding new curves. I really enjoy pulling curves from old templates and applying them to more contemporary rockers and deck, rail, and bottom contours. This has worked well with my Calafia model that I designed last year: a gently curving outline (influenced by the Yater spoon) combined with our noserider rocker, soft rails, and more contemporary bottom contours.
How would you say your boards and designs stand out from competitors?
This is the question I ask myself often. What I’ve always felt is that my dad’s designs provide easy access to wave riding. Jones shapes are distilled down to beautiful yet simple forms that make getting into the surf easy, fun and functional. No extras, no fluff, no frills…nothing in the way.
Where can California residents get their hands on a new board?
Kanvas by Katin in Surfside, CA, just down the street from our original location. They not only offer Bruce Jones stock, but also take custom orders.
How many boards (approximately) did your dad shape?
Counting all the boards he shaped before and including Bruce Jones Surfboards, I would estimate at least 50,000.
Seeing talent passed down and carried on is one thing, but seeing a father-son legacy take flight, and weather the storm, is truly the most precious part of the surfing world. Cheers to Brock and company from all of us here at The Surf Channel, and best of luck on the future of shaping quality boards around the world.
To get your hands on a new stick, or for contact information, visit BruceJones.com