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Sketching the Slopes: The Artist Behind Ski Trail Maps

Sketching the Slopes: The Artist Behind Ski Trail Maps


– Well, I love painting the
maps because it gets me out in the weather like this. (camera clicks) It’s pretty awesome to come into a resort and look up and see my map. (enchanting music) I’m James Niehues, and
I’ve painted ski maps of some of the biggest
resorts around the world. I’ve painted 194 different maps. This is North Star out at Lake Tahoe. And a Mexico ski area. Then we have Snowbasin here in Utah. This is an image that skiers see. They judge the mountain by the trail map. You want to portray the
mountain as beautiful as it is. I was a advertising
agency man for awhile. In 1987, I painted my first trail map. They used my map. I loved it right away. I could paint and do a little travel, and learn how to ski. Whenever I get a call from a resort, the first thing that I’ll
do is scope out the mountain and see what I’ve got to work with. I work heavily from aerial photography. Or I’ll go up in a plane, I’ll
take a pan across the whole mountain in a shot. From this, I take it back to the studio and I get on my computer
and select the ones that I want to work from, print ’em out, and then I reference all
the material that I can get and start my sketch. What I will have to do is manipulate the different elements of the mountain and get it on a single plane of paper, on a single page. (bright music) What I like to do is show the skier what he’s skiing through. And help the skier identify
where he is on the mountain. For a large ski resort,
it’ll take me three weeks of painting, but that doesn’t
include all your prep work. So realistically, it’ll
take me three months. Do I have a favorite mountain? Wow, I’ve done a lot of them. And a lot of really exciting mountains. There’s a lot of things that
I love about doing this job. I get to fly in some of
the most beautiful spots in the world. I’m gonna keep doing
this as long as I can.

47 thoughts on “Sketching the Slopes: The Artist Behind Ski Trail Maps”

  1. I never do this but I really want to thank you for the consistent great content you guys have been showing us. Really thank you. There is not a channel out there that matches this channel, the versatility and beauty of all your videos. Brings hope for the world and shines a light in places where we would not think to find beauty. Thank you

  2. Wow, we don't have this in the tropics. Um, just curious… Those trails are straight, so did they just chopped of parts of the forest to make them? Or is it the other way around, planting trees and leaving space for the trail?

  3. The most fascinating thing about this video was that there is a Nederland in the USA. Netherlands in dutch is Nederland.

  4. this channel keeps widening my views on how this world works and how people out there are pursuing their passion. this is beautiful.

  5. Jim is a master. My company takes this beautiful artwork, and makes it interactive by pulling in current conditions data to reveal which trails and lifts are open/closed – or which have snowmaking, grooming, bumps or a race course setup. We just launched version 2 and here's a link for a video demo: http://www.propellermediaworks.com/interactive-trail-maps-ski-resorts/

  6. Wow! What a dream it would be to be your apprentice and continue your legacy! You are Amazing! two of my greatest loves: Skiing and Painting!

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