When Moment’s Luke Jacobson asked Jonathan Ellsworth if I might be interested in designing a graphic for a limited run of the Blister Pro, he may not have realized that he was feeding the adolescent fantasies of a skinny gaper kid from Idaho who hadn’t even stopped snowblading to start skiing when the Bibby first came out.
I’ve always had an issue with drawing on my gear. Back in high school, one of the older guys sharpied his name and number and some doodles on his basketball shoes. By our next game, mine were covered in trees, mountains, bearded old men, and dragons. For some reason, my teammates did not make as much fun of me as they should have.
As I swapped the basketball court for the mountains and the bench for chairlifts, I found myself drawing more, and my gear became even more … personalized. Sharpied logos of brands I wished were sponsoring me covered my helmet, and I destroyed the resale value of everything I owned with paint pens and permanent markers. By the time I actually started selling my art, I’d left a trail of distinctive doodles across everything I owned that paint would stick to.
Last fall, I got bored waiting for snow, and painted an entire pair of skis for the first time. I was planning on retiring them and putting them on the wall, but I ended up skiing them all year, and was shocked by how many positive chairlift comments I received.
When we got back from our New Zealand trip this past fall, Jonathan asked me to whip up a new cover image for the Blister Facebook page, and this is what I came up with:
Through a string of fortuitous social media happenstances, Luke Jacobson at Moment saw some of my art, and then when he and Jonathan were working on this year’s Blister Pro graphic, he thought it would be cool to have me work up my own design.
I’ve wanted to have my art actually printed on a real ski for a very long time, but the fact that it was going to be printed on a Blister Pro — a ski that so many gush about how great of a ski it is — upped the ante and the pressure.
I took one art class in college, and I didn’t take a lot away from it other than the fact that there are a bunch of different ways to draw naked people. So my particular process is the product of a lot of trial, error, and instructional YouTube videos.
With the Blister Pro I started out making a list of stuff that I thought I wanted to include — notes like Super Burrito, Heli, Garden Gnome. Usually, I’d do a small rough draft on an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper to figure out what I wanted to put where, but with the Blister Pro, I just dove in. I taped a bunch of sheets of watercolor paper together to get a canvas the size of the ski template, then just started drawing. I sketched everything out in pencil, then outlined and shaded in pen, all on the watercolor paper.
Then I separated the huge ski sized piece of paper back into individual sheets and scanned them one by one. Once that outline was on my computer, I cleaned it up a little bit in Photoshop and started coloring. My process here is still crude and developing; back in the day, I started off coloring things in Microsoft Paint with the touchpad on my first laptop, and I haven’t come that far since then. I use a cheap tablet, and I just sling pixels around and hope they come out looking nice. It’s a lot easier than actually painting, though, since I can erase stuff.
All in all there are about 30 references to Blister-related people, places, and things worked into the graphic. Some are obvious, like the Kea and the map of Taos underfoot. Some are hidden deep, and you’re going to need to be some sort of Blister nerd to catch all of them. There are references to three beloved dogs — two obvious, one not so much. I also included a self portrait (Hint: I’m not wearing a shirt) and a bunch of other Blister reviewers and editors are pictured, or at least have some object to represent them.
And hopefully, the fact that there’s a huge demon parrot swooping in front of a personified moon helps keep the graphic interesting to those who don’t know the whole history of Blister.
This “CW” version of the Blister Pro will be available in a limited run from Moment this January. And if you happen to run into a kid with permanent-marker mountains on his helmet, paint-pen doodles on his boots, and a pair of these on his feet, be sure to call me out. I might even try a backflip if you heckle me enough.