It is art that comes into its own when the snow flies.
Around 300 topsheet fans packed into Whistler's Prior factory to check out the illustrations of the 15 finalists in its annual Topsheet Exhibition.
"It was fitting to have it in the snowboard factory. It is unique and has a boutique setup, we were able to vacate a lot of machinery and set up lighting to show the artwork properly," says owner Chris Prior.
"The community's participation has been huge. We've been really happy with that."
The snowboard and ski manufacturer had around 60 submissions to the competition, now in its fourth year. Online voters and Prior staff select up to five paintings and images that will be turned into skis and snowboards in the 2016-2017 season.
The art varied from landscapes and animals, to superheroes and a queen of the mountain.
The finalists are Ali L. Clark, Baz Carolan, Cara Burrow, Claire Ryan, Emily Beaudoin, Helen Judge, Jen Regan, Jill McDonald, Kevin McKay, Laurel Terlesky, Raff Vaz, Raphael Suter, Stacey Bodnaruk, Tori Hillier, and Vanessa Stark.
"And this also reflects riders different techniques. This meant we got a whole spectrum of different artistic styles," Prior says.
The pieces went to The Gallery at Millennium Place following the party, where they will stay until mid-November. After this, they will go on display at yoga shop Forlise, in Whistler Village.
"The competition has definitely evolved. Originally, we hired artists back in 2001 and then every year we'd hire a few artists to create something under our direction. But then we changed it to whatever the artists' abilities dictated," Prior says.
"The competition has definitely gained a lot of traction over the last couple of years. It definitely gives artists a platform, particularly the up-and-coming artists. They can have their pieces exposed internationally."
Prior says they haven't decided how many designs will make it onto Prior products, but last year they took five.
"It's difficult to get from a rendering of what the finished product is going to look like, particularly when it comes in various mediums. It has taken us a few years to get to the point where we can look at a piece of art and visualize it as a finished product," he says.
"In the Sea to Sky, there are a few artists that have been in it a long time. Some had moved to Vancouver Island (or Vancouver), so we allowed them to enter. But the competition is primarily to promote Sea to Sky talent," Prior says.
"We never gave people directions, we left it up to their own talents. There is a full spectrum."
Voting ends Nov. 15. To choose your favourite topsheet design from among the finalists, visit www.priorsnow.com/vote.
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