The Winter catalog makes its online debut tomorrow and in grand anticipation we’re pulling back the curtains to give our readers some insight into the collaborative graphic genius behind our 2012/13 Roxy snowboards.
As much as we’d like to say they’re just really cool boards (because they are), there’s a whole lot more heart, thought, tech and creative energy that goes into the boards that are ecologically handcrafted in the USA at the Mervin Factory in Sequim, WA. Today we’re giving you a brief glimpse into the collaboration between Roxy’s own designer Yuhei K., Kyre M., Roxy team riders (including Kjersti Buaas pictured below), and Thomas Sullivan and the rest of the design crew from the LA based design firm National Forest.
We caught up with National Forest and asked them all the tough questions.
As an artist, how important do you think a board’s graphic is, and why?
National Forest: A great graphic can be very important. Snowboarding is about expression, having fun, and feeling great. Being stoked about the look of your whip is a good step in the right direction.
NF designed the 12/13 Roxy snowboard line, can you briefly walk us through the process?
National Forest: Sure thing. The process begins with a lot of “What if we did this?” conversations. We dig up favorite books, posters, pop culture references, old photos, etc., and pool them together for a big mind- -meld of intuitive concepting. We formulate abstract ideas and begin drawing, setting type, or designing with the conversations, references, and specific snowboards in mind. In the beginning we make intuitive marks; then we step back and ask ourselves, “Where is this going? Is this new? Is it good?” We’ve found that this is the best path to create a new vibe that we know we want but can’t quite describe. Our rule of thumb is if we’re uncomfortable with an image it’s good because it’s new and uncharted. As the images take form we meet with Roxy and the snowboarding team, via our friends at Mervin to discuss the progress and invite them to add their contributions to the pool of ideas. We collectively decide which creative paths to follow and then fine- – tune the images. We tweak and refine until the pictures are done and ready to send off to the factory. We all meet at Mervin HQ, located in Sequim, WA (near Seattle), for one final multi-day press check followed by high-fives and beers.
Where do you get your inspiration for the graphics? Do the Roxy team riders contribute inspiration?
National Forest: It is important that each design has a heartfelt expression at its core. We think this level of sharing, risky as it may be, is what allows visuals to resonate deeply and communicate with other folks. These expressions come from the Roxy team, outside artists, or our personal experiences.
Do you think a good board graphic can make you ride better or make your day better, and why?
National Forest: Yes ma’am! I’m stoked on my current set-up and as lame as it may sound, when I feel cool, I ride cool. If you roll to the disco knowing your steez is just right you’re going to strut like a king, look girls straight in the eye, and crush it on the dance floor. The same goes for a day on the mountain.
NF works on a lot of very impressive, national and international campaigns for big brands, are there any similarities in how you approach a national campaign and how you approach designing a snowboard line?
National Forest: There sure are. We work on a lot of self-initiated projects and, as you mention, some big global ones. With all of our projects, big and small, we try to share the same message: “It’s important to experience and share joy, it is important to find time to be in the present, and we can collectively create a ‘cool’ that everyone is invited to enjoy.” We find the message important to remember in our personal lives and are excited when we can help steer big companies (Roxy included) to spread the word.
A few of the 2012/13 designs feature work from prominent artists, can you tell us a little bit about the artists and why you chose them?
National Forest: Sure. There are three contributing artists who collaborated with NF on the 2012/13 line. Two of the artists, Imants Tillers and Michael Nelson Jagamara, are friends of Torah Bright, a shredder on the Roxy Snow team. Torah suggested the two collaborate to create the key image for her signature Eminence C2 BTX board. Thomas, one of the crew here at NF, suggested we reach out to Theo Altenberg for a collaboration on the Banana Smoothie. Theo is a great German contemporary artist who has been making amazing work since the ’70s. He’s also a cool-ass dude.
Do you have a favorite board from the 2012/13 collection and why?
National Forest: I dig the Inspire. I like the simple irony of a rainforest jungle scene with rainbows and tropical birds slashing through the snow. It’s a silly notion but I appreciate the gag. Can you get me one in a men’s 162 wide?
Have any of National Forest’s employees ridden a Roxy snowboard?
National Forest: Not yet. But I’m happy to say we have a new shredder with us who will surely be taking some turns on a Roxy whip come first snow.