Let The Paint FLY!

 Interview with Alaska artist Annie Brace

March 18, 2021
Photo - CorsoGraphics

Snowboarding and art have always been inseparably linked. Not only are many snowboarders passionate artists, but a snowboard topsheet is the perfect functional canvas for showcasing eye catching artwork. The unique dimensions of a snowboard offer ample real estate for featuring a graphic story that makes a statement and helps define the personality of a board model.

Since our first snowboard line in 2010, Jones graphics have always featured mountain landscape art. The rugged contours of mountain terrain both inspire us to ride and to pick up a pencil or paintbrush and celebrate the places we love through our own artistic creativity. Jones founder Jeremy Jones rarely goes a day without spending some time drawing or painting mountains, and all the artists we feature on our board graphics share his same endless passion for translating stunning mountain views into stunning mountain art.

Alaskan fine artist and graphic designer Annie Brace is one of several talented artists that we work with on snowboard graphics. Based in Anchorage, Annie is surrounded by an insurmountable surplus of mountain inspiration on a daily basis. She filters all the natural beauty she sees living in Alaska into richly colorful paintings and digital drawings. For the past two seasons, we’ve been honored to use Annie’s bold yet sublime mountain paintings on the Twin Sister. The 20/21 Twin Sister features one of her paintings of Denali, Mount Foraker and Mount Hunter.

We are thrilled to work with Annie and excited to introduce her to all our fans. Read on for an interview with Annie detailing her artistic background + design process, and look out for many more of her magnificent mountain graphics featured on future Jones models.

Tell us about your artistic journey. Where did you learn to draw/paint and when did you start creating mountain art?

I’ve always gravitated toward drawing since I was a little ankle biter growing up in Iowa. Out of the handful of things my mom kept from my childhood, one of them was a self portrait I drew with crayon that said, “When I grown up, I want to be an artist”.  

In high school I was that kid that skipped lunch and study hall to clock more hours in the art room. Whether it be working with charcoal, painting or throwing clay…. that was my happy place. I knew I loved art of all forms. For college, I went to an incredible art and design program at Iowa State University. After graduating from college, I married up and hit the Alcan Highway to Alaska in the days to follow. What was intended to be a two year adventure in Alaska is going on 17 and there’s no looking back.

After working as a designer at a landscape architecture firm for several years, I took a leap of faith and ventured out on my own to create my own graphic design firm, Corso Graphics. Through Corso I have worked on a ton of different art projects around the state, including many focused on the environment, parks and trails. As my graphic design business thrived, I slowly began to salt and pepper my own artwork into my projects. This eventually opened many more doors that included illustration and fine art work, to the point that I stopped taking most graphic design jobs so I could focus solely on my artwork.

How has living in Alaska influenced your evolution as an artist?

The juxtaposition between growing up in Iowa, and now living in Alaska is obvious, but there is also an ingrained beauty they collectively share, a comparable pride for the richness of the land that feeds them. From the rolling farmlands of Iowa to the abundantly overflowing salmon streams of Alaska, you can’t help but be influenced.

Alaska is home to endless beauty and inspiration. It is a playground for outdoor enthusiasts and artists…and if those passions happen to intersect, well, you are truly lucky. The local art community is healthy, vibrant and notable. It is a true community, a melting pot of talent that spreads as far and as vast as the land we inhabit.

How did you get connected with Jones to start creating snowboard graphics?

Jeremy’s wife Tiffany saw my artwork on Etsy and took the time to contact me about a snowboard graphic commission. There are a lot of really great artists out there and I was honored and fortunate to be tapped for such an incredible opportunity.

Tiffany and I had some lovely back and forth conversations, connecting on many different levels about stories of compassion, inspiration and motherhood. She is warm and just so down to Earth. I also really appreciate her efforts to seek out artists from a grassroots level.

What are your favorite artistic mediums and which medium do you primarily use for creating snowboard graphics?

I love to dabble in lots of different artistic styles and mediums. I joke that each style scratches the itch of one of my many personalities.

When I have the urge to get down and dirty, my favorite thing to do is slap some acrylic on the canvas and let it FLY! I’m a very messy painter, and it is quite liberating. To the contrary, I am also drawn to the delicate and precise nature of pen and paper. There is something very therapeutic about the intricacies of lining in each individual mountain face in black and white. Once the line work is done I usually scan the drawing and apply color and embellishments digitally. The flexibility of this application is fun because it allows you to really work on your own custom color stories without too much commitment. If you don’t like how one color plays on another, it is easy to adjust it unlike acrylic.

Describe your snowboard graphic design process. Do you change the canvas layout or design process for a piece that you're hoping will be chosen as a snowboard graphic?

My creative process is quite fluid. I don’t usually have a game plan or composition in mind, I simply shoot from the hip and let the paint flow until it lands just right.

My process usually begins with picking out a background color and essentially finger-painting the canvas background. I then spray, swipe, flip and flop the paint around until I like where it’s at, then I wait. I turn the canvas from one side to the next until it dictates to me what it is to be. Once the vision is formed, I delve in!

One of the most challenging things for me when creating designs for snowboard graphics is the fact that they are based off of real mountain peaks. Most of my other mountain paintings don’t depict a specific peak. I don’t think of this as a negative thing, in fact I would call this a healthy challenge because it requires my mind’s eye to expand and adapt.

What inspires the vibrant color palettes your art features?

I paint what I feel, not what I see. This allows me the luxury of exploring palettes that spur from reality. When you turn that corner and a screaming pink mountain top greets you, there is a feeling that is associated with that moment. It can be hard to convey such explosive beauty into words, but I believe it can be captured in a painting through the use of dramatic lines and vibrant color.

How does it feel to see your art on a snowboard?

It always feels amazing as an artist to see your work out in the wild, especially when the collaboration evolves into something much bigger than the initial scope of the project, as this partnership with Jones has.

I recently finished up a custom hand painted board for POW (Protect Our Winters) for the #crushitforclimate initiative. When your passion lends itself to a purpose greater than you, that is where the rubber meets the road. I love to use my art to help make a difference and convey intentions of healing and connecting through a respect for nature and protecting the planet.

It’s also a thrill to see my art on a snowboard because my kids love snowboarding so much. I’ve really reveled in watching them learn the sport in recent years. They are already little rippers!

What are you looking forward to artistically in 2021?

With all that has transpired over this last year, I think we all have a renewed sense of respect for the simple things in life. The expected things. The things we take for granted. It was more evident than ever that in a world full of chaos and uncertainty, art has a way of threading the needle of hope. I want to create more art that moves the spirit, that reminds people of loved ones they’ve lost, that fills a home and mind with hope and happiness.

See more of Annie’s art at www.corso-graphics.com and on instagram at @corsographics.

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