Tyler Warren isn’t just a surfer. Not that he couldn’t be just a surfer if he wanted — his skills on a board certainly justify lavish trips to remote island nations, accompanied by a cadre of photographers. But Tyler is different. He’s creative and innovative and fearless. And those qualities shape more that just his surfing, they shape his career.
It’s these differences that compelled Tyler to take up art while living in “the OC” — a county often perceived as vapid and empty. It’s these differences the led him to invent weird shaped boards, like his famous “soap bars”, in an era when surfboard shaping had gone stagnant. It’s these differences that imbued him with a surf style that’s all his own, a fusion between shortboard and longboard riding, with a distinct smoothness about his turns. Because Tyler Warren doesn’t just surf on waves, he dances with them, and that sort of flow is intrinsically connected to who he is.
So who is he? A man who fearlessly choose a different path. A man who refuses to conform to society’s notions of what “work” ought to look like. A man who finds a sense of peace in the studio, the shaping bay, and — most of all — on the water.
“It always feels good to be in the ocean,” Warren says about how his love for the sea has guided his approach to life. “It’s kind of cleansing to the soul, like that refreshing feeling of going in with a bad day and coming out feeling way better”
It’s tough to say exactly what made Warren fearless in the face of big waves or bold career moves, but perhaps it comes from a tremendous confidence in his expertise. If so, this confidence is hard-earned: As an artist, he’s trained at the easel of his uncle, the oil painter Kenton Nelson; As a surf shaper, he grew up hanging around the shaping bay of Terry Martin, the most prolific board maker ever; and as a waterman he’s paddled out with every pro you can think of (yes, Kelly Slater included).
The result is a certain bravery — a “no time like the present” attitude — that permeates everything Warren does. One minute he’ll be surfing, the next, he’ll dip into the shaping bay, a little later he’s in the studio, covered in paint. The idea of a “9-5” has never once entered his thought process.
“I started by making prints and printmaking you know, and then like selling ‘em at shows,” he says of the hustle that helped him craft a career. “Doing like runs of 50, then I’d like sell ‘em all. I was like, ‘Oh, I can make money doing this, then I don’t have to go work at Taco Bell.'”