Interview of Kim Kimetz by Jean Pierre Banville
1- The Basque people always had a special relationship with the Ocean. They were, with the Normands (the Vikings), the ancient masters of the Atlantic. Is it still the case?
The Basques are still very much attracted by the sea. More and more young people go back to the Ocean and try the life pf a fisherman. There are also a lot of surfers and they have a spiritual relationship with the sea. You must also bear in mind that our gastronomy is mostly seafood!
2- The Basque Country has some of the best waves on Earth but those waves have less exposure than Australia or Costa Rica. Do you have an explanation?
There has been little exposure in the media about the Basque County. Yes, surfing is growing quickly and we get more and more surfers from everywhere. It is only a matter of time before the crowds come in.
3- I forgot to introduce you in the first place: Kim Kimetz! You are the most unhinged shaper in the Basque County and we all know that Basque people are quite unhinged already! Could you tell me more about your shop: Surftiger?
My shop is located in Tolosa, a little town close to the mountains. It is only 15 minutes driving distance from the beaches. I am going to try to move closer to the water this coming year. Also I will travel to California soon to start a new surfboard project. Surftiger is still at the experimentation phase and most artists understand what I really want to do with surfboards’ shapes.
4- How this experimentation did start?
Living close to a beach and observing the surf culture since I was very young, it took skateboarding to do the trick. I started making art, playing music, draw graffiti, and skateboarding. All of those brought me back to surfing and my creativity went straight to the shape business, where I have learned its history and the shapers.
5- Is it difficult to make a living from surfing in the Basque Country?
Let’s face it. It is difficult life, but there are benefits too. On the one hand, you have to spend all of your time on shaping surfboards and that is not simple. On the other hand, alternate shapes are getting fashionable and people are more open to them. I have met a lot of people already, and my life revolves around surfing. So I cannot be happier!
6- Surfing divides people or brings them together?
Surfing definitely brings people together.
7- I understand you are traveling to the U.S. very often. Why?
I like it! California is always on my mind and my heart. I feel good being there. The history of surfing is very much alive there. The waves are good too and it inspires me. I have tons of friends over there and there is my girlfriend as well. In other words, a major reason to go!
8- What is your favorite shape?
The V-bottom and the shape of the end of the 60s. I enjoy shaping longboards from the early 60s too. I like the big flex fins and the good D fins on a pig shape.
9- What is the creative process when shaping a surfboard?
First, it is a long process because you have to think about the board, the fins, the artwork and all. Sometimes it comes in a flash but more often you have to think about it. You look at books and old magazines, listen to music. Perhaps you write or paint about how you feel. It is an artistic process. You then find a balance between shape and art design and try to make the best board out of it.
9- Spending long hours shaping a piece of foam… Does it foster introspection?
In my case, yes. You lose all notion of time in a shape-room. I like to work at night. I usually wake up at 3am and to start working then. I am more focused when there is no one around.
10- Is being a shaper sexy? Are you a sex-symbol because you shape some Surftigers?
Actually, you get all dusty. Your jeans are covered with resin, your hairs give you the look of a madman after a few hours of sanding. Worst of all is when you get black rings around your eyes. I don’t believe it could be considered sexy.
11- Is there a link between photography and surfing? Do you like black and white or color pictures?
Surfing is a photographic dream! I like the contrasts that you can get with B/W photography of boards/surfing/shapes.