Lib Tech boards feature Ryan Davis’ memories
Riders whose creative canvas is the flank of a snow-covered mountain or the waves of a rumbling surf often find themselves also artists in other mediums. Inspiration seeps in from the natural environment later to be captured in pictures and paintings that, in turn, inspire others—and hopefully compel them. Lib Technologies understands this, and allows its graphic artists—cultivated in the field—pure freedom of expression. Ryan Davis is one of those artists. He’s long been snowboarding and surfing in the Northwest and is known in the industry for his role at Spacecraft clothing. One of nicest guys you’ll ever meet and as hard-working as they come, Davis doesn’t just play in the great outdoors, he paints his memories from them on Lib Tech’s artist series boards. I asked him to home in on this concept. Here’s a quick interview.
You have deep roots in NW surfing and snowboarding. When did art become a force in your life?
I was driven to art before snowboarding. I wasn’t the best academic student, but I was always drawn to art. If I could focus my energy on my art, I could stay out of trouble. After high school, I went into a graphic design program, and got connected to local snowboard shops like Mt. Baker Snowboard Shop, and made their company logos.
You first got a job as a snowboard finisher for Lib Tech. How’d you get them to feature your art on their boards?
I threw my portfolio in front of Pete [Saari, Lib co-founder] and got some… pats on the back. But Jamie Lynn was acting as art director and he chose some of my art as potentials. In 2001, they chose to use some of my graphics. Over the years we boarded together, shared surfing as a stoke. Now I’m asked to submit each year.
What does your art depict?
Lots of nature. Memories from snowboarding. Lots of trees—certain trees that I’d see at the top of a chute. And lots of birds. I’d draw them many times, and they’d sort of evolve. Now, I’m probably more inspired by surfing. I’m constantly trying to draw the waves that I’m imagining. Lately, I’ve really gotten into using photography, color and texture all together; a mixed medium.
Does Lib Tech guide the direction of your designs?
One of the things that’s unique about Lib Tech is that there’s almost zero art direction. There’s really no other snowboard company that does that. There’s no bottom line where all the artists’ works has to relate to each other. It’s cool that Mervin [Lib Tech’s manufacturer] has been able to find these talented artists, who are struggling, but cool. Now they’re making it happen for themselves.
How does it feel to see your artwork cruising down the hill?
It used to just blow me away. You see somebody in the lift line with it and you feel like you have a common bond with that guy. I think it’s really great to see somebody rocking a board with my graphic. It makes me want to take a powder run with them.
(Resurrected from my original interview published in Sports Northwest and edited for the web.)