Prior's ski and snowboards —picture perfect 

Stark and Beaudoin selected as Topsheet competition winners, with Kupskay wildcard

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED - Wild Life The winning designs for the Prior Topsheet competition by Vanessa Stark and Emily Beaudoin (l to r).
  • Photo submitted
  • Wild Life The winning designs for the Prior Topsheet competition by Vanessa Stark and Emily Beaudoin (l to r).

Prior Snowboardds and Skis has gone (mainly) monochrome.

The Whistler-based ski and snowboard company's fourth annual topsheet art exhibition has come and gone, with artists Vanessa Stark of Pemberton and Emily Beaudoin of Victoria named as this year's winners.

Their artwork — Stark's iconic great horned owl and grizzly, with Beaudoin's impressive bison and bear — will grace next year's crop of skis and boards.

There are splashes of colour, but black graphic drawings on white cover most of the space.

The prize for winners is two boards or sets of skis with their designs.

Stay While is the name of Stark's piece, the third time she has won the competition.

Stark says she wants people to find their own stories in the piece, since she has incorporated a topographical map of the Whistler region designed into the background of piece. People can see where they've skied — and where they'd like to ski.

"This year, it was pretty cool to be in the top two," she says.

"Stay While is all about connections, connection to the mountains, between nature. The same sort of feeling you get when you go outside. It's about staying wild, staying true to your nature."

Stark says she appreciates Prior's interest in regional artists, combining local business with their work.

"I'm happy to participate. I think it's a really cool idea, to rally local artists," she says.

"Especially for people who haven't shown their work much before, it's a great way to get their art out there."

Company owner Chris Prior says: "There was online voting (for the winners) and the factory crew here (helped choose)."

He says the designs will be added to skis and snowboards for the 2016-2017 season.

The variety of the designs is not limited.

"There is a full spectrum of people's tastes. We try to cover as much as we possibly can and we try, given the amount of soft snow we're getting these days, to take on board that surfy kind of riding style," Prior says.

Last year's winners are currently available on the website at

"The completion has always been really successful in terms of engaging the community, and giving the artist the platform to get exposure and promote them," Prior says.

"A lot of artists who have participated in the past have moved on and don't have the time to put a month into coming up with artwork. It has been a good stepping stone, it's engaging, and we happen to get top graphics. A win-win situation."

Prior says he has also commissioned a piece for next season's topsheets by Whistler artist Kris Kupskay, who was away surfing in Costa Rica while the competition was underway.

"His piece would definitely be suited to an older client who is more a 'soul surfer,'" Prior says.

Kupskay calls his piece El Nino.

"I'm on this massive surf kick in life. Me and Chris Prior have this massive surf bond. Whenever we've hung out, before we talk about anything else, we talk about surf trips, waves and islands — and pineapples, obviously," he laughs.

"So he is introducing a surf concept to his line and he said I had to be the person to do it. I said, 'Dude, I wait for calls like this. It's insane.'"

So the board design comes from what Kupskay calls the resulting "redline energy." It has a spinning tornado that turns into a wave over an island, with a hibiscus flower and palm trees.

El Nino, like the others, is in black and white.

"It's cool, really clean and reminiscent of those 1970s or 1980s surf logos," he says.

"It's plain and simple and ready to get, with good vibes. It's super punchy so... the features are really popping. It was a fun piece to do."

Costa Rica, from which he returned on Dec. 20, provided the inspiration.

And he believes it will appeal to those who love and live between Whistlerand Tofino.

"Surf inspires everything," he says.

All the competitors' artwork is on display at Forlise in Whistler Village.


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