lake como, nj
skiing / snowboarding, fine art, surfboard shaping
a secret spot in the caribbean. it’s littered with perfect point breaks and no one in the crystal clear blue water.
there’s a nostalgic draw that continually resurface and everything seems to go back to that very first board. a 1982 retro single fin gordon & smith board purchased at a garage sale for $75. this board, was the kind that gives you a deep connection to the wave, and this connection is what has shaped borbone’s relationship with the ocean.
imagine at least five days a week pulling up your boot straps and commuting round trip five hours each day to grind away in an office job in the city. sitting in a cubical and busying your day with the stresses of a standard career makes for a long, draining week. but for johnny borbone, this means to an end is the fundamental foundation that allows him to do what he loves.
living in an area where the surf is fickle, this nine to fiver shapes all night after work, surfs on the weekends and is making a way to connect his artistic technical skills and love for the connection to the ocean into a passion, shaped in his own garage. whether de-stressing from the week riding waves for the longest time possible or transforming resin into art pieces, he fills his days with ways to recreate and share that deep emotional feeling that was experienced with that very first, $75 garage sale steal.
how did you get into surfing?
i was never very good at conventional sports. mainly because i just wasn’t patient enough to learn the rules. i always gravitated to things where i was able to set my own pace and alternative sports have that luxury. when i was around six, i would take my boogie board out into the white was and stand up on it. this lead to my first surfboard, which then lead to skateboarding then snowboarding. but technically, i was surfing before any other board sport. i had no idea what surfing was at the time, but i love standing up on the boogie board.
what inspires you to pursue a life full of craftsmanship?
i’m an artist. I mean this in a literal sense, not an a self-indulgent sense. my main area of interest is photorealistic portraiture. i’ve been drawing and painting for as long as i’ve been able to walk, and over time it’s become one of my main passions. you have to be a little sick in the head to enjoy doing photorealistic portraiture because the level of precision, detail, and patience required to draw a face with as much expression and emotion as it has in real life is absurd. this attention to detail has transitioned over into making surfboards. now i just view each board as another piece of art, and my inner requirement to make every inch of every board perfect pushes me to keep improving.
you push yourself and make really long days, every week shaping before and after work, why?
the world would definitely be the exact same place if I wasn’t building surfboards. in fact, it’d probably be the same place if no one was building surfboards. with that being said, technology somewhat recently introduced ways to produce surfboards that completely remove the human element. in many people’s opinion this takes a level of passion and emotion out of the sport.
i’m not only contributing to the handmade slice of the industry, but i’m trying to drive it forward by showing that there’s a level of visual artistic beauty in a handmade surfboard that can’t be achieved by a machine.
what is something that really important to you?
the ocean keeps me healthy, both mentally and physically. i feel as though i should be returning the favor. we’re just guests in the ocean so we shouldn’t be leaving the type of trace we have been, especially since the ocean is a full time home to so many creatures. as guests, we should be respectful to those true locals, opposed to making it nearly impossible for them to survive. they have consciences and families just like we do.
surfing keeps me in shape and just being in the water relaxes me. in order to keep enjoying the ocean the way i do, we have to keep it clean. my passions are dependent on the ocean. because of this, 10% of the profits from every board sold are donated to the sea shepherd conservation society which works to preserve our oceans though marine life rescue.
where do you look to for motivation?
my family, girlfriend and closest friends inspire me to keep doing what i love, but mainly it’s my younger brother. we’re each other’s biggest fans and push each other to keep doing what we’re passionate about. he’s a freakishly talented musician and is currently pursuing a music career. his drive to follow his heart keeps pushing me to follow mine.
thanks for sharing your craft with us, see you out there soon. until next time…
Stranded on Land