There’s a blizzard on its way throughout the states this weekend, sending us all into a flurry of frenzied grocery store runs, status updates and weather-related cancellations. Yet something tells me that Simon Beck, the world’s most famous snow artist, isn’t complaining. Instead, he’s merely lacing up his snowshoes for an afternoon of “sketching” another great masterpiece into the snow-capped landscapes of France.
Simon Beck hasn’t always been an artist, although he does admit to doodling geometric shapes and indulging in extended Spirograph sessions as a kid. Instead, he’s trained in the profession of orienteering, a skill that proves endlessly helpful when navigating (literally) the artful path he’s chosen.
It’s a path that’s inspiring for more reasons than one. After suffering from damaged feet due to the professional rigors of orienteering, Beck could have bid farewell to the great outdoors and retired quietly in a wingback chair. Instead, he revitalized a struggling concept in today’s fast-paced world: making art just for the heck of it.
54-year-old Beck calls the art “his main form of exercise in the winter” as he creates each piece manually, walking through miles of terrain to create intricately detailed installations. It’s a feat that’s all the more inspiring as we consider its impermanence: at any moment, an unanticipated blizzard or off-course skier could erase his tedious work – for good.
Each design takes an average of ten hours to create as Beck works tirelessly throughout the day, pausing only for snacks and lightweight outfit changes when the air turns warm. The greatest obstacle is finishing his design in time to reach the ski lift to snap a quick photo before sunset – the only evidence that his art ever existed as dusk often welcomes another snowfall to cover his artful tracks.
Yet at dawn, Beck rises to create a new design all over again. “I hope to spread the message [that] the mountains and snow are beautiful and worth preserving,” Beck writes on his Facebook page. “And there are better things in life than spending so much time doing things you don’t want to so that you can spend money you haven’t got (yet) to buy things you don’t need to impress people you don’t like.”
Next up on his list? Beck plans to make a time-lapse video to share his techniques and hopes to produce a coffee table book in the near future. All lofty goals for a 54-year-old with damaged feet, but proof that, as Pierre Bonnard so wisely stated over a century ago, “Art will never be able to exist without nature.”
Image Credits: Simon Beck