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Shaper series: John Werner, the outlaw is in

Outlaw Johnny Surfboards label
Outlaw Johnny Surfboards label
Outlaw Johnny Surfboards

Because it takes all shapes, the spotlight is on local shaper, John Werner. Currently shaping under Outlaw Johnny Surfboards, John proves that he is more artist than outlaw. Find out why he is the future of surfboard shaping in this exclusive interview!

John Werner shaping in his shop
Rob Henson

On Being an Outlaw
Outlaw Johnny Surfboards is a fascinating, albeit a southern and charming name for a surfboard label. While John is not quite a gunslinging bandit, he is rather capable of shaping a “gun” surfboard. John shares the reason behind the catchy branding:

Chip Bynum started calling me that after he saw the lifeguards continuously running me off from surfing the pier at 61st Street and other non-surfing [designated] areas.”

It seems this rule-breaking, fugitive turned his nickname into a highly coveted work of art.

Humble Beginnings
Like most up-and-coming shapers, John began shaping in his garage. However, he truly has a skill set that few shapers possess; in this sense, he is an outlaw. First and foremost, Werner is a humble artist. He makes most of his shaping tools himself, like fin box jigs and various sanding tools. His custom shapes and artsy paint jobs have got customers lining up to pencil in their orders.

The Bali Room
John Werner’s boards boast a “comfort-fit ride with high-performance results.” He is able to shape such wonders whilst listening to Rasta music or playing a surf film in what his bros coined “The Bali Room.” In keeping with the tropical, outlaw theme, John notes that his garage shop smells like “a musty pirate ship.” The surf shop walls are adorned with a variety of Texas motifs, surf stickers, surf posters, graffiti headshots, and the state flag of Hawaii. “Having lived in Hawaii and having a rad Hawaiian wife are also huge inspirations for my surfing and board building,” suggests Werner.

John describes his shop as “raw” and “having tons of soul.” This is probably because he is constantly drawing on inspiration. Werner indicates the surfers who inspire him the most are: “Duke, Bonga Perkins, Kelly Slater, and Rob Machado.” The shapers who encourage his craft are: “Bob Martin, Terry Davis, Stephen Pearson, and Tom Maxwell.” He does not mind if a client wants to come over and put their input in throughout the process, either. John also speaks of faith as an inspiration. His mom, Libby Werner, had great faith and was healed of cancer. Giving back continues to be a part of his board room meetings. Outlaw Johnny Surfboards is hosting a surf competition around June to benefit a child named Isaac, who recently lost his battle with cancer.

“I first started apprenticing under Bob Martin in Dickinson, Texas,” Werner said of his start to shaping. In 2011, Bob Martin offered to teach him after he witnessed Werner’s potential. John had fixed a repair in a board once fashioned by Bob. Because Bob was there to guide John through the process, his first board turned out “almost as good as the boards I’m making now,” John observed with gratitude. While John is keen to talk-story with local shapers, he primarily implements techniques that he learned from Bob. Werner expressed kind sentiments regarding the mentorship relationship: “Bob Martin will always be my mentor, and one day, I’d like to pass this on like Bob did with me.”

Experience and Evolution
A lot has changed since John Werner was a young grom hitting the beach. While shaping “shortboards with nice bottom contours” are John’s favorite to create, “matching surf styles with custom shapes” pushes him to be innovative. It is this mindset that has enabled his boards to be under the feet of five surfers at the 2014 TGSA State Championships. The wisdom and experience passed down by Bob Martin combined with John’s thirst to create different shapes has led to a natural evolution in his shaping. As a result, he is an outlaw whose boards are wanted. In great demand and with all of the custom orders pouring in, John is slammed. In the future, his boards will be sold at Southern Spears and Texas Surf Co. John Werner, new to the shaping world, can offer a fresh take to help shape the future of surfing. He is definitely the shaper to watch.

Board Recommendations
“I would recommend wide or thicker boards [for Texas],” suggests John. He currently rides a thruster, which he made for himself. He alleged that it also works well in Galveston surf. In fact, the thruster is his favorite board to ride.

Words to Live by
“God is love.” –John Werner

To order a custom board, contact:
John Werner
Outlaw Johnny Surfboards
906 Sealy St. Galveston, TX, 77550
p. (832) 341-5600
Shortboards start at $500
Funboards start at $600
Longboards start at $700

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