Skintrack Sketches: Travis Parr on remaining rooted while pushing his artistic boundaries

Graphic for the 2011/12 Icelantic Nomad ski. [Image] Travis Parr

For Icelantic Skis’ co-founder and artistic director Travis Parr, the future of his brand lies in its past. Since 2003, Parr has been pushing the boundaries of Icelantic’s topsheet design and ski-related art through lively graphics influenced by his love of world history, exploration and the connection between humans and the environment. A native of Colorado, Parr has developed his and, consequently, Icelantic’s message of “Return to Nature” based on his experiences in the Rockies.

By employing a figurative realist style in which he portrays dream-like figures developed in multiple mediums, Parr seeks to transport skiers to another reality while investigating the human interaction with skiing environments. In this installment of Skintrack Sketches, Parr discusses the creativity behind topsheet design culture and the influence of nature and the backcountry.

Graphic for the 2014/14 Icelantic Nomad ski. [Image] Travis Parr

Backcountry Magazine: What came first, skiing or your love for art?

Travis Parr: I started skiing at a very young age; I was two-and-a-half or three years old—I was probably doing art back then, too. I grew up in the Rockies as a kid, and I remember sketching a little bit when I was maybe eight or nine years old, doing topsheets for snowboards in my sketchpad.

BCM: What is the process of making the graphics for the topsheets?

TP: The process still stays true to Icelantic’s roots. It’s all raw artwork; I can’t really explain how I do it these days. At first, I painted on canvases the same exact size as the skis. Then I would get my work scanned and put it directly on the ski—[now] it still has no computer design and is a mixture of all kinds of mediums. I try to stay true to myself and to the fact that I’m a traditional artist. I’d rather draw on paper than draw on the computer any day of the week.

BCM: What’s the message of the final product that you are trying to convey through your work?

TP: I love history. We have lived in different environments all over the world to create the human existence that we are in right now. I pull a lot from whom our ancestors are and this whole interconnectedness of humans and nature. The art is returning to the feeling that we all live together in these environments and how that environment affects us. That’s what I try to put on the top sheets, that mystery of something bigger.

Graphic for the 2015/16 Icelantic Gemini Ski. [Image] Travis Parr

BCM: How has your time exploring wild places influenced your art today?

TP: That’s returning to nature for me. When you spend time in nature, you start developing a different rhythm in life where you’re firing off of adrenaline and trying to manage that adrenaline when you don’t need it. Then coming back home, I bring it with me. That changes my daily routines.

When you’re not in the backcountry you’re at your computer, at your house, relying on the everyday things that you weren’t relying on when you were in the backcountry. It’s that peace that you bring back that ultimately resets what you could be doing better day-to-day.

2017/18 graphic for the Icelantic Nomad 115mm ski. [Image] Travis Parr

BCM: It seems like it’s all about returning to nature for you.

TP: Yeah. But you also have to return [to reality]. It’s all about bringing that [natural] experience back with you to the everyday grind so that it becomes seamless. People ask, “Why do you want to go to the backcountry?” A lot of people say it’s to disconnect, but that’s the wrong word. It’s actually to reconnect. You need some time in the backcountry to take on new energy and put it into your everyday life.

BCM: If a skier on Icelantic Skis could know one thing about you and your designs, what would that be?

TP: I’m a hands-on, traditional artist. These pieces are not coming from computer programs. It’s coming from an art-making process that is big and goes back to Rembrandt and Carpaccio, or even the American illustrators such as N.C. Wyeth. They should know that I really, really care about originality.

Travis Parr currently resides in Laguna Beach, California where his continues to create. His is currently painting for a number of companies while continuing to run Icelantic Skis. For more information and inquires, see his website,


  1. Thanks for the support Backcountry Mag.

  2. Thanks for the support Backcountry Mag!!

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