Current Issue
This Month's Print Issue

Follow Fast Company

We’ll come to you.

1 minute read

Snow Becomes A Canvas For Intricate, Temporary Art Works

Simon Beck trudges through freshly fallen snow to create his large-scale graphic motifs.

  • <p>Simon Beck has become Internet-famous for his amazing geometric snow artworks, each of which is approximately 500-feet in diameter.</p>
  • <p>It takes about 10 hours to complete a design. If the site is close to home, he’ll take a meal break in the middle, but sometimes he’ll continue on and do the entire design in one go.</p>
  • <p>He works primarily in the snow surrounding his apartment in Les Arcs, a ski resort in France.</p>
  • <p>Beck uses a handheld orienteering compass to establish the setting, determines distances with measuring tape or counting his paces, then creates curves with a clothes line attached to an anchor at the center.</p>
  • <p>All he needs is a little patience.</p>
  • <p>This season the conditions weren’t right until December.</p>
  • <p>The art generally lasts until the next major snowfall.</p>
  • <p>He often chooses the locations based on the ability to get a good photograph when he’s all done.</p>
  • <p>Brilliant.</p>
  • 01 /09

    Simon Beck has become Internet-famous for his amazing geometric snow artworks, each of which is approximately 500-feet in diameter.

  • 02 /09

    It takes about 10 hours to complete a design. If the site is close to home, he’ll take a meal break in the middle, but sometimes he’ll continue on and do the entire design in one go.

  • 03 /09

    He works primarily in the snow surrounding his apartment in Les Arcs, a ski resort in France.

  • 04 /09

    Beck uses a handheld orienteering compass to establish the setting, determines distances with measuring tape or counting his paces, then creates curves with a clothes line attached to an anchor at the center.

  • 05 /09

    All he needs is a little patience.

  • 06 /09

    This season the conditions weren’t right until December.

  • 07 /09

    The art generally lasts until the next major snowfall.

  • 08 /09

    He often chooses the locations based on the ability to get a good photograph when he’s all done.

  • 09 /09

    Brilliant.

For Simon Beck, snow is where his heart is. He has an uncanny knack for creating intricate designs in a fresh fall, and has been creating stunning large-scale, ground-bound art works since he started with a five-pointed star back in 2004. He’s subsequently developed increasingly complex designs while simultaneously refining his process (he claims his background/day job as an orienteering mapmaker doesn’t give him much insight, but it certainly couldn’t hurt).

Each motif measures almost 500 feet in diameter and takes about 10 hours to complete. He uses a handheld orienteering compass to establish the setting, determines distances with measuring tape or counting his paces, then creates curves with a clothes line attached to an anchor at the center. Depending on the location, Beck will shake up his strategy; for a site close to home, he’ll do a daytime session, head inside for a meal, then complete the rest at night, while with more remote sites he’ll bring along provisions and try to finish everything in one extended jaunt. "I do not stop work while I am eating, but instead reserve a section that is not demanding in order to reduce the danger of sucking food into my lungs," he tells Co.Design.

His latest collection of temporary graphics were delayed a bit longer than usual into the season due to uncooperative weather. Once there was a break in the inclement elements in December, however, Beck was out there trudging through the unblemished expanse of smooth frost near his apartment in Les Arcs, a ski resort in the French Alps. Mother Nature unleashed an "absurd amount" of the white stuff, he says. "It’s a struggle to get through it at all!" When I got in touch with the winter maestro for this post, I mentioned that I hope he had a nice holiday and new year. His reponse? "I don’t have holidays—I spend the whole of my life on holiday!" Which is, of course, awesome.

Check out his Facebook page for some pretty extensive Q&As, as well as tips on how to DIY.

(H/T Scene360)