Finding my better self
March 1, 2017
Words: Helene Ravlich
Zach Snyder: artist, nature lover and Icebreaker.
Zach Snyder’s official title is Product Graphic Design Manager, but he has a much more creative way of describing what he does. “I bring the character of outdoor experiences to life through a uniquely Icebreaker perspective,” he says, and his approach is both inspiring and inspired.
We delve a little into what makes this creator and avid lover of nature tick...Do you have a signature style, and how would you describe it?
My style seems to have two personalities. One is carefully constructed: a deliberate, geometric-looking graphic breakdown of the stories I hope to tell. The other is loose, fast, and undisciplined. It’s a sketchy and more raw, unfiltered way to tell the same stories. They almost appear as two sides of a coin.Do you work in certain artistic media alone, or have you explored a few over the years?
I’ll try anything. At one point or another pencil, pen, charcoal, acrylic paint, oil paint, and alcohol dyes have all convinced me they’re the answer I’ve been looking for. I can never get far away from the pencil and pen, though. That immediate, unfiltered, connection between a thought and making it appear on paper is unbeatable. Digital mediums are also wonderful. They’re different. As an artist you have to understand what each medium has to offer and know that going in. In truth, my favourite pieces are mostly collaborations: starting with a traditional medium and then taking it digitally to push it in ways I can’t quite make work without a graphic pad.
Sometimes the best pieces are the ones that people either love or hate."
There’s something bigger about our experience in the outdoor world than words or a single image can create. I don’t think I realized it at the time, but when I think about it now I realise I was trying to capture the visual memory of time I’ve spent in the outdoors. Snapshots of a hike, or climb, live in a series of angular impressions, of bold colours. It felt very graphic. The lines are strong, alive and passionate.How long did they take you to create?
Hours and hours. Weeks. I was talking to a friend once, who hired a lot of artists and illustrators over a long period of time. He told me he always took their time estimates and quadrupled them to know how long it would really take. That anecdote still makes me laugh and it’s pretty true. When you care about what you do, you lose sight of how long it really takes. It feels like no time at all.
Yes. Usually that is what works best for me. Great creative processes are often wandering. You may start out having a pretty good idea of what you want to create, but then you need to take some side roads on the journey along the way. You need to go down a few paths that turn into dead ends. Sooner or later that unguided wandering will reveal something you never could have planned to find.Having said that, how do you determine which of the designs makes the final cut?
You put on a different hat. Art is very personal experience, you get close to it. When it comes times to look at what will connect with other people you have to look at it differently. Look at it not as a creator, but an observer. Asking other people helps with this as they inevitably broaden your perspective. Sometimes the best pieces are the ones that people either love or hate. When you get that kind of reaction, you know you’re onto something great!
Oh, this is a hard one. They’re all so different. What comes to mind right this moment is rock climbing in Red Rock Canyon. It’s located outside of Las Vegas, Nevada and the beauty there is surreal. The stark, warm colours, red, sand, white... It’s outrageous. A highly seasoned climber took me up some of his favourite routes, and he’s a man who loves big exposure. Being on the face with vast openness all around you is literally breathtaking.What do you believe you were you put on the earth to do?
Sometimes I think figuring out the answer to that question is the purpose itself. You know – it’s the journey, not the destination. For me a part of that means looking out for other people. Finding those ways in which you can help make it a better place.Lastly, we’d love you to finish this sentence: nature means to...
...finding my better self.