Bored with the current direction of mainstream snowboarding, artist and professional snowboarder Corey Smith decided to do something about it. The resulting line Spring Break Snowboards brings the activity back to the basics with handmade wooden snowboards meant for making beautiful powder turns and reviving a love for nature.
Not only do these wooden beasts look like a blast to ride, Smith hand shapes and paints each for a one-of-a-kind board worthy of hanging on a wall. The "business model" is unconventional too; rather than buy a board, Smith asks interested parties to donate to Spring Break to replenish materials and otherwise keep the company alive. Five hundred bucks gets you a board of your choice from the "collective" quiver, but existing and future work will sell at to-be-announced Spring Break art shows next fall.
Smith, current Art Director of COMUNE clothing, has always been a strong presence in the evolution of style and individuality in snowboarding (pioneering today's "tight pants" movement), and may very well spark another trend with his newest venture. We recently caught up with the mastermind behind Spring Break Snowboards to learn more.
What made you grab a hunk of wood and carve a snowboard?
I was in Tahoe for most of the winter filming for the upcoming COMUNE snowboard video. It didn't snow for the month of January and I was getting cabin fever, just dreaming about riding fresh powder. I thought, "Why not see if I can make some handmade boards?" Once I had a few boards built and realized they were functional I decided to start a fake snowboard company as an art project. .
What inspires the look?
I was reading a book about this surfer in the '70s named Bunker Spreckels and how he shaped really unique boards. It really inspired me to think differently about contemporary snowboard design. Many of the shapes come from conversations with friends and just thinking about what kind of wild shapes we can come up with. The pill shape seems to work really well. I was surprised how well the powder holes in the back worked. They really allowed the tail to sink in the deep snow just like a swallow tail board.
Is the process closer to shaping a surfboard or snowboard?
Well, I've never shaped a surfboard. I grew up in Portland, OR skateboarding and snowboarding so surf culture is pretty foreign to me. I am really interested in learning more about surf history and board development though, since snowboarding and skateboarding were born from that.
What materials and techniques do you use in the production process?
I really just use wood, fiberglass, polyurethane and the t-bolts for the bindings. I'm embarrassed to even let people know the redneck technique I use to bend the shape into the boards haha! It's really just been trial and error learning how to make a functional snowboard by hand.
Where are you based?
I live in Los Angeles in the summer and Lake Tahoe in the winter. I'd really like to build more boards this summer so I have a bunch for all my friends next winter when I hope to return to Tahoe.
Why are Spring Break Snowboards worth checking out?
It makes deep fresh powder accessible to anyone. Since the boards float so well in powder you can ride mellow, relatively avalanche safe terrain. If you ride a traditional board in deep snow you can only move on steeper terrain. With these boards you can just hike stuff off the side of the road, you don't need a helicopter, snowmobile or even a lift ticket.
Thanks to COMUNE and Kevin Castanheira for helping make my vision a reality and documenting it.
Photos by Kealan Shilling