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Simon Beck’s snow art in Lac Marlou in the French Alps (all images courtesy of Simon Beck)

With nothing more than just a pair of snow boots, the power of his legs, and some intuitive math, Simon Beck has created hundreds of spectacular, large-scale land art pieces onto snowy terrains around the world.

Beck’s works, which he categorically dubs as “snow art,” show intricate geometric shapes inspired by patterns found in nature such as snowflakes, spiraled cactus spears, and cannabis leaves.

Beck’s works are inspired by patterns found in nature

Another one of Beck’s pieces in Lac Marlou

A closeup of Beck’s traces in the snow

Beck, a former engineer, has been creating his snow art for more than 15 years. How does he do it? His basic method is fixing his gaze at a certain marker in the distance and walking toward it.

“Usually I work outwards from the center,” he explains on his Facebook page, which if followed by more than 270,000 people. “Straight lines are made by using the compass and walking in a straight line towards a point in the distance, curves are made by judgment. Both require a lot of practice to get it good.”

Beck’s basic method is fixing his gaze at a certain marker in the distance and walking toward it.

Passing skiers observing one of Beck’s works

A typical drawing takes Beck a day of work. “If I am not too tired I continue into the night until it is complete,” he said. His largest work, a four-clover pattern drawn onto a frozen reservoir in eastern France, took him 32 hours to make in four eight-hour shifts. That particular piece, according to Beck, was the size of “six soccer fields.”

Beck’s work is ephemeral by nature, inevitably destroyed by the elements. “You’ve got to try and get these things done in one day,” he said, “because the weather in the mountains is not entirely predictable.”

One large work, he once explained, was snowed over right after it was finished. “By the next morning, it had gone,” he said. But what really frustrates him, he added, is when a work is destroyed before it’s finished, sometimes by reckless skiers.

“You’ve got to try and get these things done in one day,” Beck said.

Straight lines are made by using a compass; curves are made “by judgment”

Beck’s largest work was the size of six soccer fields.

One of Beck’s favorite destinations is Lac Marlou, a frozen lake outside a ski resort in the French Alps. That’s where he created several of his most monumental works. He also creates large-scale sand art pieces, usually on beaches, with the help of a rake.

All of these works live through photographic documentation. “Provided I’ve got the photographers, it’s job done,” Beck said.

If you want to witness Beck’s work in action, catch him at Silverthorne, Colorado, where he will be creating a series of works between January 2–16.

“Provided I’ve got the photographers, it’s job done,” Beck said.

“If I am not too tired I continue into the night until it is complete,” Beck said.

Beck’s sand art at Brean Beach near Bristol in the UK

These sand pieces are usually raked into the sand

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Hakim Bishara

Hakim Bishara is a staff writer for Hyperallergic. He is also a co-director at Soloway Gallery, an artist-run space in Brooklyn. Bishara is a recipient of the 2019 Andy Warhol Foundation and Creative Capital...

4 replies on “This Former Engineer’s Impressive Snow Art Will Blow Your Mind”

  1. I have a question for Hakim Bishara. The resemblance to “crop circles” is obvious. I would have thought a response from Simon Beck as to his inspiration, motivation, and aspirations in his monumental perspective would be included in the article. Anything you could share?

    1. Perhaps there isn’t one. Some people just want to decorate things. I mean, nobody is asking the fireworks team from the New Years Day parade to talk about their “motivations”, because everyone knows what they are already and/or no one cares.

      1. Perhaps. I can see your point, sometimes a snowflake is just a snowflake. Beck’s work, though, takes thought, time, and enough solo energy to imply meaning. They may be primarily for commercial purposes like the fireworks. That’s why I was asking the author. I guess I’ll do my own research.

    2. Great question. One comment I read is that Beck talks about how patterns in nature motivate him to create these massive geometric drawings. Also: “What led you to create snow art?: It started as a bit of fun after skiing one day, but I quite liked doing it anyway, so I made some more, and more complicated ones. In 2009, when I decided my feet were too worn out to continue orienteering, I decided to make the snow drawing my main winter aerobic activity, and work towards building a collection of photos for a book.”

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