Artist Background:

Vital Force by JD San Jose

June 29, 2014
Jd portrait 20461 2 408 xxx q85

JD San Jose portrait by David Rinella

Chris delorenzo sanding 600 xxx q85

San Jose in the shop photo by Chris DeLorenzo

Kassel san jose dayatthebeach 600 xxx q85

San Jose enjoying some down time

Lightspeed bay 600 xxx q85

San Jose's Lightspeed shape taking a break on the beach

Fins 600 xxx q85

Boards by San Jose- a nice showing of fins

Chris delorenzo grinding 272 xxx q85

San Jose in the shop photo by Chris DeLorenzo

Chris delorenzo sanding closeup 600 xxx q85

San Jose in the shop photo by Chris DeLorenzo

Drumfish 2014 306 xxx q85

Drumfish by San Jose

Bob nibblett loch 2014 600 xxx q85

San Jose testing out some new shapes

8 jd surf 20567 copy 408 xxx q85

Whisper + Vital Force Featuring " Light Speed" in Putty, Butter, & Aqua Boogie photo by David Rinella

( )

The craft of making surfboards is part art, part science. Physics plays a part in the process, as does hydrodynamics. Measurements are taken, calculations are made, and processes are followed. But mystique plays a large part in what ultimately emerges from the shaping room. “In the end it’s me with my headphones on, carving,” says JD San Jose, the New Jersey surfer behind the highly coveted Vital Force boards.

JD started making his own boards four years ago because he’d ridden almost everything else that was available, buying and flipping fresh models every few months. At first, he produced them in much the same way every other board shaper does, by carving a foam core, covering it with fiberglass, and then coating that with layers of resin. What changed his process was the realization that he could use his experience as a shamanic practitioner to tap into the spirituality of each board. Now, before he picks up his tools, he embarks on a spiritual journey that begins with drumming and leads to an altered state of consciousness. There, San Jose explains, the spirit of the board is revealed. “Sometimes I’ll see an animal, like a cobra, and I’ll know that’s the spirit of the board. Or I’ll see a feather and the board will be light and thin.”


Though he does not normally talk about this aspect of his work—Whisper is honored to be the first to describe the spiritual side of San Jose’s métier—reaction to it was immediate. “Right away, people told me that my boards had changed, that they were better,” he says.


Originally, San Jose made his boards under his name but found he was uncomfortable with the attention. “I couldn’t imagine making stickers with my name on them. I’m more of a background guy—I used to be a bass player,” he says. Then, in a conversation with his shamanic teacher, he asked for a definition of the soul. “Her response was: ‘vital life force,’” he says. “And I thought, ‘that’s it.’ I don’t want to say I’m a soul searcher but I think when I’m making a board, that’s what I’m looking for.”