Simon Beck didn’t set out to become a famous snowshoe artist, but that’s what happened. The former cartographer studied engineering at Oxford, but for the past ten years he has been using only his feet to make amazing art in the snow and sand.
Beck plans out his designs with the help of tools from geometry and geography, but it’s still strange to see him walk exactly where he needs to to make them. His designs can take 12 hours or more of walking, and for an average-sized piece, he takes about 40,000 steps. It’s beautiful, creative, good for you, and short-lived.
Beck’s art doesn’t last because it is made of snow and sand, which are always being blown or washed away. This is how it is when you make art in nature, but it doesn’t bother him at all. In an article for Artsy, he said, “Most people will only ever see most of the world’s artwork as photographs,” he said in an article in Artsy. “Even with the Mona Lisa—probably only a minority of people have actually seen the real thing, but everyone’s seen a photograph of it.”
And the pictures really are something to see. On Facebook and Instagram, you can see some of the things he has made out of snow.
One of the hardest things about working in the snow is that the weather can change as you work. The snow could melt or become very icy.
Or, other people might not know what is going on and mess up your work by accident. For example, there’s nothing to stop a skier from plowing right through a design.
Beck’s sand drawings are a different kind of challenge. Sand art is hard because you have to time the tides and deal with the wind and other beachgoers, but the end result is worth it.
Beck sometimes uses his art to talk about things going on in the world. For example, this drawing has 81 triangles, but he says he didn’t shade 77 of them to show “the 77 countries where LGBT people are given a hard time.”
Beck has made more than 300 land drawings, and most of them were made in Europe. But in January 2020, he will spend two weeks in Silverthorne, Colorado, where he will make between five and fifteen of his famous snow sculptures.
ABC News did a story about Beck and his work. In it, Beck talks about how he does some of his work and how he uses a ski pole to measure parts of the design.