Interview: Theo Acworth
Extracted from Method Mag 22.3
Do you have a background in art, or is it a more recent thing?
Not at all! I actually have a degree in geology. But when my dad first got out of college, he was an art teacher, and he recently gave me all these art supplies and linocut stuff, which I’m hyped on. I did some of my own Nitro graphics, and a couple of years ago I did an internship with Paul Brown. I showed that I was willing to learn, and Nitro gave me the opportunity. Then COVID hit, and I worked at a little local grocery store for that summer. It was actually pretty fun. I was still painting and playing on the computer, then last year Nitro offered me a job as a graphic designer.
"I just truly, truly love snowboarding, especially in powder. No matter what, I want to create stuff that captures that feeling and will maybe inspire others to go out and try it. It’s just so damn fun that I want everyone else to experience it."
How do you balance the roles of rider and artist?
It can work, but it can also be a little tricky to give each one enough time. Sometimes I’d feel like I was blowing it with one or the other. This year Nitro gave me a cool little window where I have more freedom to ride. It’s nice because they obviously understand what I need to do in the winter because I work for them in that regard too.
Do you bounce from one medium to another, or do you have specific things that you get into for a while?
A bit of both. I’ve always been a fan of surfboards and how they’re glassed, so I kind of got into resin art. I’m the sort of person who has to go do something outside like climb or skate, then all of a sudden, an idea pops into my head, and I just have to get home and do it. I like to do different things, so I would say mixed media is my thing. I’m also stoked about painting on furniture at the moment. Most of my board graphics have been painted or drawn by hand. I’m a huge advocate for that. It has that human touch, and you start to love the imperfections.
What other things do you find inspiration from?
Lately, I’ve been stoked on old cars and basketball. Just random stuff that’s not in snowboarding. Skateboard art is so disposable, so I think they can get more wild with ideas. Snowboards are a bit trickier because they’re a big purchase for someone, but I think we need more of that skateboard art culture in snowboard graphics. Obviously, there’s room for clean boards like Gentemsticks that are just so pretty, but it’s also fun to get colourful and weird.
You’ve done a few designs with Autumn. How did those come about, and what’s it like working with them?
Brad [Alband] and Jeff [Richards] knew that I doodled and painted, so they asked me to do something for them. Working with them is always super fun and easy. They kind of let me do whatever. Sometimes Brad has ideas, and I kind of like it when people have a concept. I feel that if I contain my creativity, then it can expand. But if someone tells me that I can do whatever I want, I can get caught up and can’t think of anything!
We used one of your Autumn illustrations on our collab beanie this year. Not sure if you actually knew that?
I did, and I was stoked. I’m hyped if my work goes to a snowboard mag. I think that one is Nick Russel. It’s an abstract drawing, but a lot of those figures are actual people.
You recently made a film called Groove, which was sort of a patchwork of snowboard feelings… I don’t really have a question about it. I just wanted to say that I liked it.
Thanks, I appreciate that. We wanted to make something that was more an art project than a snowboard video. We wanted to leave it mysterious. Hopefully, it’s something relatable that people can get stoked on. We were just searching for moments, like a weird shadow on the snow or something. Stuff like that gets me super stoked.
So from your artwork to your riding and your films, you seem to pretty consistently do cool things. What’s the secret?
I don’t even know! I feel like I’m always scrambling last minute, and then something comes together. I was kind of mentored by Austin [Smith] and Bryan [Fox]. I always respected them because if they wanted something, they just went and did it instead of waiting for someone to do it for them. Even if it turns out to be shitty, at least you’re going to learn something. I just truly, truly love snowboarding, especially in powder. No matter what, I want to create stuff that captures that feeling and will maybe inspire others to go out and try it. It’s just so damn fun that I want everyone else to experience it.
You can see more of Grif's artwork here
And if you want, you can follow him on Instagram too