ICELANTIC X STRICTLY: Behind the Collab
BEHIND THE PROJECT: A Q+A WITH ARTIST SAM WINSHIP
Where did the inspiration for this ski come from?
Skiing, art, and design have been the 3 biggest sources of inspiration in my life for a long time. They occupy the same space and thought-patterns in my brain. It was always clear to me that they would cross paths more significantly one day.
Since starting to ride for Icelantic in 2017, I think I saw an opportunity there. The history of fine art within the aesthetic of the brand is strong and Travis Parr has done a fantastic job of setting the Icelantic top-sheets apart from any other brand. So, in early 2021 I pitched Ben on doing some sort of ski project. At that time, I wasn’t exactly sure what shape or form it would take but I knew that I wanted to explore a few different printmaking mediums in the process.
What is the nature of your connection with the Strictly Crew?
I have known the Strictly Crew for a long time. In 2016, I spent the summer at Mt. Hood and was working at Windells where Gavin Rudy and Andrew Mildenberger (the 2 creative minds behind Strictly) were on the content crew. Ethan Swadburg and Levi Asher (Strictly skiers) were working that summer too. So, I guess I have always been adjacent to that crew. In 2020, Gavin reached out to me to create a set of posters for their new film Bermuda and that set the tone of us working together collaboratively and set the stage for the ski project.
How do you know Calvin and PK?
I didn’t meet Calvin and Parker until a bit later. In 2018, Aiden Ulrich and myself spent 2 months in Chile and Argentina shooting a short film piece ‘Del Sur.’ A few other athletes came down for short stints including Owen Leeper, Calvin, and Parker. During that trip I got along really well with both of them and loved their 2 really refined styles they had on their skis.
Once Ben and I started hashing out the reality of me designing a capsule of skis, it felt natural to put Calvin and Parker on in that way. We are all on the younger side of the brand but the work they have done stands up against any of the seasoned vets In the ski film world. I wanted to put on for my friends and give them some shine.
What was the design process for the topsheets like?
I have been working in printmaking for some years now and was always drawn to the photo transfer process. You print an image in reverse on a clear sheet of plastic so all the ink sits in one thin film layer (vs soaking into the pores and fibers of regular paper) and you can use a glue adhesive to transfer the ink onto water paper. When that happens you have a few moments to distort the image and choose how it rips and tears (you can see a bit of this process in the video that goes with this article).
Before we got into the creative process, I had a pretty strong image in my head of what I was looking to create. I wanted them to immediately stand out when looked at in a lineup of typical Icelantic skis. They are usually filled with color and feature one continuous painting top to bottom; I wanted to actively deviate from that and try to make something that was ripped, torn, and black and white.
When it came to the imagery, I pulled mostly from my library of photos, so there is a bit of a connection there in the mood of absent, mundane, or disregarded objects. We added a few other elements to emphasize the personality of the athletes, most notably, the image of Cal Ripken Jr. on a cereal box. Calvin was named after him and it is a cereal box that his grandpa gave to him at a young age and he still has it in his room.
What do we need to know about the difference between the two skis and their topsheets?
They are designed as a set but at the same time they aren’t. They are obviously visually and thematically connected in some ways and they reference each other, but it was important to me to differentiate them a bit. For the most part I would leave that up to the viewers to pick apart what communicates with them. A few people have pointed out different objects or shapes they see in the rips and distortions created by the process, and I I love that. I want to make a piece of work that lets people explore a bit and isn't overly literal. More just providing a few ideas, a few images and a mood, and then let people digest it how they please.
Any ideas for what could be next for the Strictly x Icelantic partnership?
Well considering I don’t run Icelantic or Strictly, I’m not sure I’m the right person to ask. What I can tell you is that I’m extremely grateful to Ben and Hanna from Icelantic for trusting me with my vision and giving me the freedom to make this project. I can also tell you that I will be forever friends and forever inspired by Andrew, Gavin, Parker, and Calvin. As long as they are putting their creative energy out into the world I will be there gassing them top and hopefully collaborating with them.
To Icey and Strictly,
If ya’ll wanna run it up again in 2022, I got ideas in the bank and I’m ready for round two…