[Editor's note: Sierra Snowboard graphic design guru Phil Wiles picks his five favorite boards of the day.]
Here's the third, and probably final, roundup of what graphics have caught my eye. Obviously there's a lot more good stuff out there that I didn't get chance to snap due to booths being too full and my meeting schedules not working out perfectly, but I hope this has stoked some of you out on what's going to be coming your way for the 2011 season.
1. Arbor Abacus
Arbor's all-wood style graphics have a small but devoted fan base and Arbor boards have some of the most distinctive visuals in the industry. With the Abacus they've taken that classic Arbor wood vibe and made it look sharper and more modern by taking the wood grain and turning it black.
The white graphic looks great but also has an interesting concept behind it. The Arbor tree has been repeated, flipped and manipulated so the overall image resembles a pair of lungs. When you understand that the forests on our planet are often called 'the lungs of the world,' link that back to the Arbor logo being a tree and the whole wood vibe going on with the topsheet, then you get a really tight board
graphic that has a interesting story behind it.
2. Burton Method
If you're gonna drop $1,500 on a snowboard it'd better look like a $1,500 snowboard, right? When Burton released their new top-of-the-line snowboard last year at SIA everyone drooled at the specs but the overwhelming response to the graphics was a lot more muted – yes they looked tech but something seemed missing.
For 2011 Burton have definitely addressed this issue. We've mentioned this before that one of the 'hot' trends of 2011 is metallic inks and the Method really utilizes this technique well – making the visuals of this board match the price tag with a silver metallic background covering the entire board length. What was interesting at the on-snow demo is that despite thinking this board might look a little too 'bling' – when you slap a pair of bindings on it and get it on the snow it seems a lot more subtle than I first thought. Yes it says "look at me," but it doesn't scream it.
The sleek metallic background is offset by a color gradient going from turquoise to dark blue through the center of the board including the ICS channel areas, which is really a sweet touch. Another excellent little detail is that the words 'Burton Method' are printed in white in a hieroglyphic style in the recess of the channel.
The subtle range of blues on the topsheet is reflected in the base design. Burton has produced a poppy base which still works well with the tight color scheme of the topsheet, working geometric shapes into the graphic and having a section on each board showing the core of the board which is a great touch.
So, rest assured, if you do drop the big bucks on the Burton Method you'll be getting a board that looks like a million dollars.
3. Forum Spinster
Bright colors and edgy illustrations don't just run through the men's line at Forum – the ladies get a look-in too. This board looked great at SIA but even more impressive at the on-snow product demo at Winter Park. The simple, bold illustrations and super bright colors really stand out on the hill amongst the hundreds of other boards there.
The illustration is a retro line drawing of a popular female stereotype – prom queen, princess, etc., and at first glance that's all you see. But when you get closer and check the detail, all the girls are ripping the flesh from their faces. It's a pretty cool twist on the 'person beneath the façade' vibe and, for me, it works as you don't realize what's happening in the graphic until you're really checking it out properly.
The super-bright colors are repeated on the base with a really strong 'lightning bolt' Forum 'F' shooting in to split the heart – again it's real cool to see a topsheet and a base that are both strong and work together both visually and conceptually.
Definitely a graphic for a strong, confident girl – shy, retiring wallflowers need not apply.
4. Capita Green Machine
Another of the main 'hot' themes for 2011 board graphics is the use of photomontage as a design technique. Most companies have tended to keep the photomontage technique on the rough, punk end of the trend but Capita have produced a sophisticated design with a mixture of natural elements, scenery, animals and geometric shapes.
What's really impressive is the way that Capita have combined all these disparate elements to work so well together in a harmonious design. Whilst this design really emphasizes the new direction that Capita have taken for their 2011 graphics, it still has the Capita sense of humor people know and love.
In the centre circle of each board is a sepia tone photograph of someone from the ‘Wild West' but with an animal head 'Photoshopped' onto the body – it's such a cool and funny image and despite its random nature it, the image feels right at home in the design.
Beautiful colors, fantastic imagery and techniques, good contrast between detail and empty areas – combine them all and you gotta great graphic.
5. Capita Space Metal Fantasy (SMF)
The 2010 version of this board got a lot of the ladies at Sierra stoked and is definitely one of the most popular women's board graphics for the current season. So, it's definitely one of the most anticipated board graphics for 2011 women's boards and it's interesting to see how Capita have handled the design to keep the coolness of the graphic whilst incorporating it into the new Capita style for 2011.
First the bad news – no unicorns. But it's still super retro cool all the way. Patrick Nagel inspired portraits, ‘80s art deco colors and disco shapes give the whole board a Miami Vice look. The reason this board works as opposed to other retro designs is the skill and care that's been taken on the design – no quick rush jobs here, so it feels more like a 'homage to' rather than a 'rip-off from'
Photos by Phil Wiles at the SIA Snow Show 2010