Snowboard Design in Watercolor

January 11, 2017

We were skiing in Big Bear, the snow falling on a beautiful white lit run at 8 p.m. when it occurred to me I needed new gear. One of my favorite activities during the winter time is snowboarding and skiing. Generally I just love the snow and being in nature. Trees have also been an inspiration and a reason I love ski activities so much. When I enrolled in my first drawing class they were the subject that came the most natural for me to draw. However, there is something magical about the snow in the way it falls, it’s unique texture and beauty, and it reminds me of my home in Huntington Beach. Snowboarding reminds me of surfing, just you aren’t riding water.

My snowboard, boots, and bindings are 12 years old. I decided to buy boots and perhaps later I will buy some bindings. However, I decided to blog about this because it led to a creative watercolor project. After browsing the snow shops up north on both trips and checking out the designs for this year on all of the boards, I felt really dissatisfied with their aesthetic. Aesthetic is incredibly important to me on a board — important on everything because I am an illustrator — so I decided after dissatisfied window shopping, to design my own snowboard. I’m not completely set on any one design, but the experience inspired me to create a few illustrations of my own. 

Inking has always been a favorite activity of mine. Although I’m not formally trained in the Chinese techniques, I love their brushes. I designed a cloud illustration shortly after returning home from the trip which I used as a banner for Facebook. I kind of fell in love with this little project and thought I would share it.

My Inking Cloud Project


I thought about what type of a design I would like on my snowboard and came up with this inspired illustration. I wanted something symbolic and bold. I wanted it to be colorful and to convey a power message. I remembered from an art history course in my undergraduate studies when we covered asian historical movements a painting of a wave and wanted to take inspiration from the artist’s style. I observed waves in Huntington Beach and felt inspired by “The Great Wave off Kanagawa,” a painting created by Japanese artist Hokusai in 1830.

Tsunami by Hokusai, 1830

I find it important to point out, 1) I did not intend to copy his art, only to be inspired by his style of painting and explore how this style might inform my subject matter and theme, and 2) I think the reason I remembered and loved his work was because he has an illustrative style. If you look at his work, it all has heavy lines and a flat aesthetic. Often I vacillate between realism, surrealism, and flat icon illustration. I love all of them and appreciate each movement in the art community. I thought the flat illustrative style would reflect the movement in snowboard design toward illustrator created designs and photoshop photomontage type designs that I saw when I was shopping for a board, but move beyond this pop art style. I really wanted to break away from what I was seeing in the stores and create a watercolor, traditional illustrative and meaningful design for my own board. I’m going to hopefully order my board toward the end of the year. Here is a peek at the design:

I will be extending this watercolor piece into panels so that it will be long enough horizontally to fill the snowboard, then scan it into Photoshop to touch up areas of the design. I couldn’t decide if I wanted there to be a surfer on it or not. However, it would feel phony to me if there was because I have only been surfing once. The design was intended to convey the power of water and the feeling of surfing across snow. I’m excited to finish this project and hope you check back to see the final design!

~ Andalee