Whistler artist Sarah King has been receiving a lot of praise from friends and family for her Olympic gold.
OK, maybe she didn’t exactly win a medal in Sochi, but her loved ones were beaming as they watched U.S. slopestyle winner Jamie Anderson hoist the snowboard King designed above her head on the podium last week.
“My mom was like, ‘Congrats on the gold!’” King said, laughing. “I can’t really take credit for that. But I got super nice comments from friends all over the world.”
The board, made by Gnu, a Washington-based company that recently added Anderson to their roster of riders, is splashed with bright, West Coast-themed images. A sun rising over the ocean adorns one side and a moon looming above snow-covered mountains marks the other. Look closely and you’ll see text running throughout — King’s signature style. “I know Jamie well enough to know that the board represents her really well,” said Barrett Christy, who oversees the design of women’s snowboards for Gnu. “It wasn’t designed exclusively with Jamie’s input, but it was inspired by Jamie… Sarah’s artwork flows and it’s beautiful, just the Pacific Northwest imagery she uses. There’s always so much of what she’s doing to pull for graphics.”
Although the board was plastered in stickers when it appeared next to Anderson on the cover of Sports Illustrated for the magazine’s Olympic issue (another honour for which King’s friends heaped praise), Olympic regulations force athletes to remove all stickers from their equipment, whether they’re for fun or part of sponsorship deals. That rule meant the board was prominently displayed during Anderson’s big win.
“It’s a pretty amazing place to have your artwork shown,” King said. “A lot of people definitely care about what the athletes are wearing and what they’re riding. The board is obviously very prominent in competitions.”
Although King didn’t collaborate directly with Anderson on this board, her first contribution to Gnu was for the company’s Jamie Anderson Pro Model, back in 2012. “The first one I did, she actually sketched it out,” King said. “She picked the design specifically. For this one, they wanted something West Coast. That was the starting point. We went through about 10 designs and narrowed it down.”
After Anderson returns to the U.S. and wraps up a media tour she’ll be hitting the slopes on Gnu’s 2014/2015 season Ladies Choice board, for sale to the public in the fall. For that board, King created a florescent jungle-themed design. “Jamie embraces the earth and mother nature so much and that board truly represents her,” Christy said. “I don’t like to stick with the same colour schemes, but it’s nice to continue with Sarah’s style and have her interpret different elements. I’m looking forward to working with her on more graphics for next year.”