Interview with large scale snow artist Simon Beck
While most artists use a paintbrush or a chisel or Photoshop to create beautiful artworks, Simon Beck uses something entirely natural to him: his feet. He walks in snow for hours on end to create geometrical patterns that will only last as long as Mother Nature wants it to.
He took some time to answer a few questions about the hazards of his work, where he gets inspiration for his designs, and his dream destinations.
How did you get started making snow art?
It started as a little fun after skiing one evening. Back in 2004, I was still taking orienteering seriously and used to train in the forests in the valley or hike up the Aiguille Rouge, the mountain above Arc2000, after the lifts closed in the evening.
One day I couldn’t be bothered but wanted a little exercise, so I got my Silva type 54 compass I use for surveying orienteering maps and went onto the little snow covered lake outside the building I live in, plotted 5 points in a pentangle and joined them up to make a star.
I then filled in the 15 triangles that resulted and later added some circles and the result was impressive, especially as there is a nearby chairlift that gives a bird eye view of the lake. When fresh snowfall covered the design, I did another more complicated design.
You said you prefer doing your snow drawings at night. Isn’t that more dangerous?
No more dangerous, I just need a head torch. Skiing down afterwards is definitely dangerous, and has to be done with extreme caution!
How long does each piece typically last before nature has its way with your artwork?
The aim is to complete it in one session, and the days are too short. I don’t like getting up early. I like to start when it is warmer, and perhaps with the sunshine. Also working at night means less skiing time wasted! Usually they last a week, although there’s great variation.
All of your designs are so unique and different from each other. Where does the visual inspiration come from?
The inspiration comes from mathematics and nature, although some are copies of crop circles.
Do you have any dream destinations that you would like to create snow art on?
Arctic Norway, the Matterhorn, nearby lakes, the 3 Zinnen, and lots of other remote lakes requiring flying.
What’s the best thing about being a snow artist?
The best thing is that I am starting to make money from something I like!