A few weeks back we were fortunate enough to visit Diogo Appleton in his workshop in Lisbon and learn from his beautiful craft. As Madrid natives we're quite oblivious to surfing as a sport, but can surely appreciate the artistry that goes bringing a surfboard to life. It's this creative process that really caught our attention, and getting to see it first hand through Diogo was truly a privilege. We hope with this little piece you can get to appreciate the greatness of Diogo's work, and of Diogo as a person.
How did your relationship with surf start?
I think the very first memory I have from surfing I was around 8 years old. My dad used to build surfboards between the late 80’s and early 90’s so it felt all very natural for me to go to the beach and spend a lot of time in the ocean with my Dad, i was very lucky.
What made you shift your attention to board shaping ?
When I made the decision of no longer competing I started to look at different ways of how I could ride a wave without losing all my high performance abilities but at the same time applying all my skill in different surf crafts, so shaping my own surfboards made a lot of sense and was a great help to find the best designs that could suit my needs and style.
Did learning how to shape change how you experience surfing?
Definitely, the possibilities are endless when you are able to build something, but I have to say that it took me some time, still does, to adjust my time between the beach and the shaping bay. I think the fact of being able to build my own surfboards and doing it professionally contributed a lot to express myself but it also takes a lot of my energy so I don’t surf everyday like I used to, but when I do surf on a board that I made it's worth all the time spent working and not surfing and I can hold something that I am really proud of.
Turning to your work, what should a client expect from your boards?
Like any other shaper, I have my own models and my own style of shaping and people come to me because they can relate to what I do I guess. I don’t really make something that you can’t find on my instagram and I am very honest about that. All my models are customized to every level of surfing and body type, I am really skinny so I think its easier for me to shape something that I could see myself surf but its also really satisfying and challenging to make a board with more volume. I Think my level of surfing gives me a lot of confidence to talk about surfboards and ultimately it's very helpfull to suggest the best model for a specific clients needs.
Is it important for you to know the client personally?
Definitely, it’s always more productive if we can meet while we are ordering the board, but unfortunately thats not always possible due to the fact that I also ship my boards over Europe, so I always suggest to send me as much personal information as possible so I can have an idea of what type of surfer you are or what kind of waves you usually surf.
What's the favourite project you've been a part of?
I have worked on a few little projects for my friends or even for myself, but I think the most challenging project so far was when I did 12 boards for Corona during the Wct event in Peniche, all the boards had pigments and glass on fins and I think I had 15 days or something to make it happen, very stressfull but a good way to push your limits.
Have you always been interested in making things with your hands?
Not necessarily, in school I never felt I was good enough or even belonged to sny sort of art program but I always enjoyed being part of its activities, everything started to make more sense when I was practicing on how to use my hands on a surfboard blank and began to master the tools.
How would you define your personal style (fashion style)?
Sorry, I have no idea how to answer this question :(
Surfing is said to be quite an unfriendly sport for newcomers, what would you say?
Yes, that's very true. Nowadays there’s to many people in the water and most of the time it gets really challenging and dangerous if you don’t know what you're doing in the water. In my perspective surfers are unfriendly with other surfers, no matter the level of surfing, beginners are just an easier target to scream at. It's a fact that there’s more surfers than waves so there’s always a lot of tension in the water. I wish surfing vibes could be more similar to skateboarding vibes sometimes, they really know how to enjoy themselves as a group and not just as individuals.
If a friend of yours came to Lisbon for a whole day, where would you take him or her?
I love spending time at the beach so I think we would spend some time at my local spot, Carcavelos. Probably we would have a late lunch after surf next to the river. To finish the day we could go to a football game and watch Benfica play. After the game maybe a few drinks followed by a dinner in the city with a chance of going out to Lux.
What other city would you like to live in and why?
Australia is my second home, not sure where I would exactly live there but that's where I would definitely go!!
Someone you admire and why? Of any walk of life.
My Future wife is definitely someone I look up to a lot, she is so positive about everything and never stresses about anything, I am literally the opposite and it’s really cool to have someone by your side that helps you to be more peaceful.