Meet the Craftsmen! Bugg Custom

Our fantastic guest photographer Nick Corkill has been out and about meeting and photographing some of the local surf talent in Bristol and managed to get some time with Chris Bugg. Chris has his own company making and restoring boards but he has been on quite some journey to get here! Nick’s interview and photos are below and we hope you find it as interesting as we do!

 

Bristol; UK, home of Banksy, Massive Attack, Skins, cider and… err… surfboard shapers…

Wedged within the new ‘student breeding facility’ i.e. Halls and Primark is the old Police CID station in which you’ll find Anglo-Norwegian board shaper Chris from BUGG CUSTOM. Chris came over to the UK 15 years ago, and somewhere along the way of DJ’ing, cleaning boats, and a budding career in gardening, he ended up in California shaping for LOST Surfboards. I went down to his small factory to find out what the crack was…

So Chris, from the top…. Why? When? How?

About 10 years ago my brother in-law introduced me to surfing, after I’d had too many accidents skating, resulting in some pretty major operations. I developed a fascination with boards and a weird obsession with what exactly went into building the things. I basically just winged it using old surf magazines and hanging out every day in the surf shop to get an idea of the shapes and dimensions involved, and then just gave it a go! I’d shaped my first board soon after.

Between working in the local surf shop in East Wittering, Sussex, doing some odd jobs in the Marina down the road, and installing plants into the side of office buildings(!), I started shaping boards for some mates in my spare time.

It came to a point where I was in a rut, I didn’t know what I was doing with my life, all I knew is that I loved shaping boards…

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So, I sold everything I owned (and I mean everything!) took the two boards I had and went to FISH FRY; a shapers get-together uniting complete beginners and professionals. It was a great place to meet like-minded people and I was hoping to meet a shaper who would give me some guidance or take me under their wing!! This is when I met Kasey Curtis from LOKBOX and he really liked the idea I’d come up with for one of my boards; I’d made resin inserts for the empty boxes you get when you ride a 5 fin option.

A couple of hours later and a couple of beers down I asked him for a job. He put me in contact with Matt Biolos from LOST who basically just said “come out and we’ll see what you can do” !

 

I went to Indonesia for a few months, surfed my brains out, and went straight to California after. I didn’t know anyone and was loitering around ‘The Alley’ waiting for Matt. I spent my first two weeks moving blanks around, sweeping floors etc. before they handed me a board to shape. The guys there liked it and had me go and glass it and finish it over at GHETTO HOUSE; run by Paul Berton who taught me everything I know about glassing and finishing. They run a real tight ship down there and there’s no time for mistakes – you learn quick or you’re out the door. I learnt quick. I did some work for BASHAMS factory and picked things up from everyone I met; all these people have incredible talent. Terry Senate taught me everything about hand shaping and probably has around 50,000 boards under his belt.

I was flying back and forth to the UK for over three years; spending my time in England trying to sell boards to pay to get back out to California because the UK me cabin fever, drowning in a local pub somewhere…

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HOW ARE YOUR BOARDS DIFFERENT FROM ‘OFF THE SHELF’ OR ONLINE?

The customer can come in and be a part of the whole shaping process, really personalising the board to their spec and adding any important detail they desire.  We also specialise in resin tints and have done some cool cloth inlays. It’s also nice for people to see exactly how much work goes in to a hand shaped board and how the process differs from mass manufacture.

You’re also supporting local industry which is really important as there’s tonnes of boards out there made in countries and factories where the people making them don’t surf or really know anything about surfing. And not forgetting here we wont discourage the customer from bringing in beer…beer is good.

Why Bristol?

I came to Bristol as my US visa was up and I had nowhere else to live, so I moved in to my girlfriends here. I found there’s a huge number of surfers and more outdoorsy kind of people here than in a lot of other cities. I guess as it’s so close to Wales, Devon and Cornwall where the most consistent UK waves are.  That combined with the city offering so many jobs which draw people in from those kind of surrounding areas, you get a South West UK surfing community settling here.

Bristol has a more laid back vibe and feels a lot less fast paced than places like London. It has loads to offer in terms of surfing; there’s a local surf club which have weekly meet ups as well as being closely linked to Surfers Against Sewage,  Surf GB, and Christian Surfers, as well as lots of other upcoming exciting Bristol based surf projects.

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Anything interesting coming up in the near future?

With the expansion of the business we hope to offer a full range of eco boards. There’s a lot of research that goes into making a board ‘eco’; not just materials but its manufacturing footprint etc. too. It’s not easy in an industry which is traditionally so potent to the environment. Ironic, really considering what surfing is all about.

We’re having our one year anniversary party here on the 16th of April with live music and surf art from Maia Walczac. Everyone is invited to come down and check it out; follow me on Instagram and Facebook to checkout my designs and keep up to date with what’s going on in the workshop.

 

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Photo Credit – Nick Corkill