It began back in 1995, when Smith started snowboarding. Soon, he was a pro for CAPiTA Snowboards, producing imaginative videos parts that showcased his unique approach to snowboarding. These days, he still designs board graphics for the brand, while finding time to pursue his creativity across a bewildering number of fronts. As well as being art director at COMUNE, he’s a curator of the Drop City art collective, and founded Spring Break snowboards, a brand that allows him to explore his interests in art and snowboarding through a series of unique handmade abstract wooden snowboards.
You get the point: Smith is a blur of multi-disciplined activity, which is why we were lucky to snag him for our Looking Sideways show at the Vans Wangl Tangl in Mayrhofen last year. Here he talks about his career in creativity.
Hi Corey. First up maybe some details: you grew up in Portland. How did you get into art and snowboarding? Which was first, and did they influence each other early on?
Well I grew up skateboarding. But it rains a lot in Portland, so unfortunately you can only do that for a few months a year. This was an obvious reason to start snowboarding. Especially with the year-round snowboarding on Mt. Hood – my home mountain. As far as my creative endeavours go, I’ve been drawing and painting since my childhood.
Who inspired you early on, in snowboarding and art? Riders, artists or something else?
I’ve taken inspiration from so many artists. I love seeing and appreciating great work from other people almost as much as I enjoy creating my own work. We’re all just humans sharing ideas and concepts about how to live life and make it more enjoyable. I could list artists that have inspired me – both obscure and famous – but it would take up the rest of this interview, haha!
You’ve been associated in both a snowboarding and art and design sense with CAPiTA for a long time. How did that hookup come about? And how did it evolve from from being a sponsored rider to working with them on board graphics and designs?
Well, CAPiTA originally started almost as an art project for Blue Montgomery and Jason Brown, who was one of the most underrated and influential riders of all time. CAPiTA was probably one of the first snowboard companies to really incorporate artists and snowboarding together. You have to remember that in this was a kind of the Dark Ages for snowboarding graphic design and creativity, with big, homogenised badge logos and Forum Fs everywhere. Almost every brand featured headphones as a graphic, and Trevor Andrew was TRZA of something.
So when CAPiTA came out with signature artists boards and really progressive graphic design, it really stood out. Their catalogue, the Book of CAPiTA, was designed to look like a Mormon bible, which was something pretty advanced for the time. They were also really open to rider input when it came to design, which wasn’t always the case back then, a time when there were a lot of industry people that didn’t really snowboard but were still show how able to shape the culture.
Anyway, I just really identified with the brand because it was very skate influenced and I knew I wanted to ride for them. Ten years later, I’m still here doing board graphics for then. They’re always open to my ideas and we always have fun developing new stuff. They always have the most progressive graphics in the industry and it’s fun to see how they influence snowboard design and graphics.