Snowboard graphics are wild. Ranging from the unique and beautiful to anti-aesthetic and sometimes obscene, it takes in art and design trends, individual takes from specific artists or maybe completely unrelated topics.
There was something about this variety and approach that made me put snowboards on my map regardless if I was actually riding them or not. As a graphic designer I just had to have a go at them.
It’s now November 2021. I’ve been riding for about 3 years, starting at age 30. After a few lovely seasons and a newfound love for the sport it was time to start browsing for my first “big boy” snowboard. Had to take into consideration things like flex, profile, composition, and other things I learnt on YouTube and on ski lift chit-chat.
Also figured out that wrapping a snowboard with a custom design decal is not the best way to go at it, so one thing led to another and I spiraled down the OEM rabbit whole.
Trials and Tribulations
So I started doing my due diligence. Found a few local (European) white label manufacturers and started requesting quotes and trying to get in contact with someone. But random guys with random snowboard designs and very limited budgets don’t get many replies. As much as I wanted to keep manufacturing in the neighborhood and make visiting – for example – a reality, I had to take my business elsewhere. Elsewhere being some 13 thousand kilometers east.
So off I was, sheep in the big city, driving my accountant insane with questioning (sorry Adam). Also, the low prices that made me go “f*ck it, I can do this” quickly came attached to minimum orders in the 3 digits range. Lessons were learned, to say the least. Between figuring out shipping, importing, and board specs, I started slowly etching my designs.
My design checklist was a compilation of everything I liked about my favorite brands with a topping of personal preferences. I wanted visible wood textures like Arbor has, red base like Koruas, and the exact same shape as my Salomon, but in a flat profile, like that Ride Warpig I tested last season and blew my mind. Also a powder version just so I can make it white, and top them both off in a red/white combo with techy elements.
Besides all this, the topographic map is the area around my hometown and includes some of the nearest peaks on which I spent my childhood. The print marks were included to see how much alignment the graphics have, as I’ve been warned that sometimes the “sandwich shifts” and I wanted to know if I can have perfectly aligned recommended stance markings, for example.
Not so soon enough though, everything fell into place and I was left with the final designs and specifications.
1.1 a feeling of reassurance and relaxation following release from anxiety or distress.
1.2 difference in height from the surrounding terrain.
Relief is a true twin freestyle/all-mountain flat rocker.
1.1 a state of being pleasantly lost in one’s thoughts; a daydream.
1.2 a fanciful or impractical idea or theory.
Reverie is a directional, rocker shaped, powder cannon.
Months went by and I had surprises around every corner. My main contact ghosted my after months of communication and for good reason. I was that low budget client that had tons of questions, modifications, and nothing pinned in terms of future orders. I had to make the best of my samples because a lot depended on them.
As a graphic designer I had a first hand look at what many of my own lower budget clients were facing while starting a business and it was a real eye opener.
But then I was approached by a representative from a specific company and boy the pace pick up. Updates were instant, and communication tenfold easier then before. Production timelines were set months before and estimated perfectly to-day.
And then one day some real updates started showing up.
To say I was ecstatic was putting it mildly. They looked amazing and 3 samples were made of each model by default, to correct possible mistakes. I was also pointed to the mistakes, which I found minor to say the least and offered to buy all the samples, although it was not a requirement.
Shipping was my biggest concern right now and after a lot of back and forth between the factory, the custom’s office and myself, the snowboards were on their way. A tiny ton of paperwork later I got that magical call. “Could you please come down to the gate?”
So lets talk shop
The boys, as they are, come in the following specs:
UV coated top coat
(matte finish between bindings)
Tip width: 290mm
Waist width: 248mm
Tail width: 290mm
Sidecut radius: 8.1m
Effective edge: 1200mm
UV coated top coat
(matte finish between bindings)
Tip width: 304mm
Waist width: 260mm
Tail width: 288mm
Sidecut radius: 8.3m
Effective edge: 1030mm
Talk the talk
Riding the high of getting closer to the finish line I started calling in favors. First stop was Catalin Hladi, a long time friend and collaborator who happens to be an amazing photographer and was willing to hook me up with a product photo session. First look at the final products.
Walk the walk
With the season almost ending I had just a brief chance at a couple of runs. Relief, the “flatie” is just like I imagined, a plug-and-play all-around toy that you instantly adjust to. Not much powder left for Reverie by now but whenever we went off-piste it came into its own and really lived up to the “snow-yacht” vibe.
Unfortunately there was no camera setup, no GoPros following me or cool edits to follow. Testing was done hastily as the temperatures were rising and the thing I was most looking forward to, the actions shots, had to hit the bench and wait for either an amazing opportunity or the next season.
But results were amazing and feedback excellent and having already jotted down some test days and possible clients I won’t shy away from setting up the next batches, which will (hopefully) hit production in autumn. Until then I will do my best to keep anyone interested updated by both newsletters (soon) and social media.
So far, based on overall communication with the production team, product quality, testing, interest and results, things are looking good. Next season will bring the minimum of a small batch of Relief 2.0 that will come in 145cm (ferda girls) and in 155cm Wide, based on current demand.
Until then I will keep things updated on the old Instagrams and Facebooks and I guess we’ll see what happens.