Thursday Creative Callout: K2 Ski Designer Ryan Schmies

Thursday Creative Callout: K2 Ski Designer Ryan Schmies

Since the original K2 Public Enemy, artist and designer Ryan Schmies has created art for over a hundred pairs of skis. With fervor for skiing and design, Schmies has successfully blended his two passions together.

Ryan Schmies is responsible for some of the most iconic ski designs of the past decade from the original K2 Public Enemy to the current Hellbents. Now the head of K2 Skis creative department, Schmies continues to create eye catching graphics that look good flying through the air or slaying lines in Alaska.

Freeskier recently caught up with Schmies and asked him a surplus of questions about the future of ski design, where he gets his inspiration, how he got to where he is today and more.

What did your artistic history/resume look like before working at K2?

Well after drawing a crude representation of Jesus and a police man on a super club napkin at the age of 2. I hit up the first ever High North Ski Camp back in 1998 and met a bunch of great people. Two years later I was working summers on the glacier and doing art for Shane and the camp. I was also doing stuff for PoorBoyz, MSP and Freeze mag.

Not long after that, my friend Mike got the call to be the K2 Team Manager and he asked me to start drawing some skis while I was at college in Wisconsin. That is back in the day when I did the first Public Enemy.The following year right before graduation I did more skis for K2, got my degree, packed up my car and drove out to start working full-time at K2 and skiing NW pow:)

When I got here, all my neighbors told me I had to wear flannel, drink coffee all hours of the day and listen to grunge music. It was weird.

What is your official title at K2?

K2 Parking Lot Attendant and Facility Vehicle Maintenance. I also make the ice cream and clean the keg lines.

Schmies Rocking Out!

With skis being such a unique (narrow and tall) shape, how do you go about creating art that will fit onto skis/how do you visualize it?

It has gotten so much more fun to design with wider skis, but on the other hand, the level of difficulty has increased as you have more surface area to fill…or not to fill. So if it is detailed hand drawing, my time to create a single pair has doubled at least. Mostly it is drawn full size onto a large sheet of paper or many 11’ by 17’s ghetto-taped together. Next comes the painfully slow task of scanning the art into the computer and piecing it back together.

Some designs are a compilation of separate drawings, while others are drawn only within the ski shape template. No matter how you do it though, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, and when it doesn’t you get upset because you just spent 9 hours making it. That isn’t too gratifying. However, I try and visualize it in my head before I start and put it down roughly on some small ski shape printouts.

What is your favorite ski that you have designed? Why?

That is a hard one…I just broke the 100 ski mark this year, so there are a few to choose from.

Ummm? I guess the HellBents are always fun to create…and I really like the new 2011/12 Seth ski I just made. Actually all of Seth’s pro models have been super fun to work on.

Most meaningful though would be the McConkey Memorial PONTOON though. The real credit goes to Shane and to all the photographers who captured the amazing moments the graphic is comprised of, but it was satisfying to be a part of that process.

2010-11 K2 Hellbent

Where do you get your artistic inspiration?

Long periods of sensory deprivation. I take my cats and enough food/water/ PBR for the three of us. Then lock us into a big old wooden K2 crate we used to use for SIA that now resides in my basement. Wrap it in pillows and duct tape so my girlfriend can’t hear me scream while she sleeps. Then around four days later I have a pretty good idea of what the new line-up will look like.

On more than one occasion I’ve run out of food and had to eat Mr. Meowgi’s… Oh and I also gain inspiration from brauts, cheese, the Green Bay Packers and Wisconsin beer, in no particular order.

Where do you see ski art/design going the next 10 years? Are we headed out of the 80’s throw back era and into one full of unicorns and rainbows?

No, it is going to be all about a giant company logo/ logos in the tips and the name of the model super big on the tail. Repeat one or both on the base really big, or it’ll be swapped out for the company’s website address.

I however have a soft spot for kittens that fit into shot glasses.

A surprised Schmies and happy Matt Margetts

Do you have any artistic goals outside of designing skis? Handbags? Watercolor?

Oh, I like it all. Well, with the exception of handbags. Skis have not gotten old for me, I still have a head full of ideas for some crazy stuff…which I guess could work on other objects as well. The good thing about K2 though is that it is just myself, Joe and Drew. We get to dip into everything that has the logo on it. Clothing, print, web, product, poles, helmets, bags, etc., it keeps it fresh and entertaining. I do enjoy working outside of that set of projects on occasion. I did some of Seth’s new boot, which was fun as it was a new shape and form for me to design on. We’ll see what the future holds though. I would really love to design a house.

Any shout outs?

Freeskier for the questions, everybody out there that appreciates what I do, my family and friends, Sophia, the CP/MWAS, K2 for keeping it real and last but not least, Shane Szocs.

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