You don’t have to look too far to see some unique art around Bozeman: the electrical boxes lining Main Street, murals on the sides of buildings, paintings in downtown shops or our very own Exit Gallery on campus. Yet you don’t expect to discover a local artist’s work on the chairlift at Bridger Bowl — unless you’re sitting next to Greg Swain or somebody with Caravan skis, that is.
The budding local ski company heard about Swain’s artwork through a mutual friend, and after seeing some samples they asked him to create topsheet graphics for their artist edition which is new this season. “I started to work on the graphics this summer. I’ve done three for them since then, now I’m working on next year’s,” Swain said, describing his designs which are first drawn with micron marker then colored with India ink fabric pastels.
Although he is an avid snowboarder, Swain plans “to learn the art of the double plank” on his new set of Caravans. Skis make a great jumping-off point since it is the dominant sport around these parts, but he is ambitious about finding new markets to showcase his work. “I want to try and do snowboard and skateboard graphics for next season,” he said. “I’m just looking for the right company to do it with.”
After growing up in Fairfield, Conn., Swain headed out west in 2003. Hitchhiking and hopping trains across the country, he eventually found himself in Bozeman and stated that “I ended up liking Bozeman out of all the places I went, so I stayed here.”
Swain’s affinity for Bozeman and the outdoors is clearly expressed through his artwork. One oil painting of his shows Sacajawea Peak on a sunny pre-season day and is the first in a Bridger Bowl series meant to share personal highlights from the season. His landscapes are beautiful and vibrant, and sometimes slightly surreal. The ski topsheet designs in particular depict natural scenes with a tinge of fantasy. Swain describes his style as “a combination of my imagination and the reality I see everyday.”
You can check out more of Greg Swain’s work on his website, swizzleboards.com, and don’t be surprised if you start to notice his art on the mountain or at the skatepark.