If one came across one of these drawings in the middle of Iowa’s farmland it would be common to chalk up credit for such amazing art to some sort of extraterrestrial beings. However, a snow artist named Simon Beck, who was born in London in the 1950s is responsible for hundreds if not thousands of intricate designs made by using the medium of snow.
According to 303 Magazine, Beck originally majored in Engineering at Oxford which prepped him to later pursue a career as a cartographer. It wasn’t until sometime later in life when Simon began spending his winters at Les Arcs, France that he tapped into his ability as a landscape artist or snow artist.
After speaking with Simon via the ‘intraweb’ a few short weeks ago, he filled me in on a little background beta regarding his art. Simon always trained for a hobby of his called competitive orienteering. He spoke about how his art and his training could go hand in hand, saying ” in 2009 I made the decision to take it seriously and make it my primary form of winter exercise (replacing training for competitive orienteering), and give the snow drawing priority over skiing when conditions were good.”
Lucky Colorado residents were able to check out Beck’s work in the desolate snowfields outside Silverthorne, CO between January 3-16th as he visited and helped kick off the new year with some of his designs! 303 Magazine also reported that he would help kick off the First Friday Community Events there!
Simon made his first piece of snow art on the Club Med Lake just outside Arc in or around the year 2000. I asked Simon what inspired him to start making such masterful art.
“It happened more or less by chance. I made a few drawings for fun, but with no digital camera, no access to the internet, it was not for a while until I realised there was nobody else doing anything similar, and it had apparently not been done before” -Simon Beck
As I scratched the surface a little deeper, I wanted to know why Simon continues to work so tirelessly making such breathtaking art, that in most winter climates could be swept away or covered up in a matter of hours. Simon explained to me that most of the work he does is simply for exercise and self-satisfaction. Occasionally he is commissioned by corporations wanting him to draw their logo in order to use for advertising. Most of all, it sounds like Simon just enjoys using his background as a cartographer to go out and play in the wilderness. He just wasn’t cut out for working in an office just like many of the rest of us.
Simon did mention that he has photos of almost all of his completed drawings and saves the rights to some of his favorites which can only be seen in his book, Snow Art. What a great conversation starter for the coffee table of any outdoor enthusiast or artist!
So how does he do it? It’s not like he can stand back and look at the big picture as he works. In our conversation, Simon explained that a little bit of all his experiences go into making one of these drawings. He often drafts plans and then uses a magnetic compass, some mathematics and his knowledge of geometry to aid him along.
“The first stage is accurate measuring, l use a magnetic compass and distance determination via pace counting. This is the most chalelnging part, but if you get this first process right then it gradualy gets easier as the drawing progresses.” – Simon Beck
Some of Simon’s drawings take several sessions to complete. He has to be very careful that he has the proper weather window available when working on such elaborate pieces. In 2013, Beck made a drawing on the reservoir in Arc that he reported taking 4 sessions of 8 hours.
Here is the progression of one such drawing
Simon also explained to me that when he is not making snow art, he enjoys skiing and competing in orienteering for fun.
When there’s no snow to be had, Beck spends lots of time at the beach. There he can spend hours training in the summer by walking or jogging in the sand. Also, you guessed it; Simon makes about 20 drawings per year on the beach.
To find out more about Simon Beck’s ‘out of this world’ artwork, follow him on Instagram and stay up to date on Simon’s future designs.