The Art of Southern Hemisphere Snowboarding

Louis Macindoe - from pro to artist to editor, with everything in between. So what's next?

Illustrations: Louis Macindoe
Richie Carroll

Louis Macindoe’s passion for snowboarding Down Under and keeping its culture alive and breathing is refreshing. Over the years, he has accomplished an incredible amount as a rider, editor, illustrator and artist. Transfer caught up with Louis to get an insight into the iconic illustrations he’s done for the mag and find out what the hell he’s been up to since he left the Transfer mothership.

Louie! It’s been a while… In fact, it’s been almost a year since you left Transfer. What’s been happening?
Greetings Transferites! Yes, admittedly I have gained some distance from Transfer for some time now. At the end of 2017, I punched the ticket as we approached the due date of our daughter Mary. I passed the Transfer torch over to now-editor Richie Carroll, who had long been the heir to the Australasia snowboard media empire. Since then, I have been working in the more sterile and corporate advertising world.

Has the sterile and corporate world you’ve moved into involved any snowboarding?
No not really. I’ve done a few odd jobs here and there for snow-related clients. I do some work for a company that taps into the Snowy Hydro, but that barely counts as snowboarding, right? Those guys do own most of Australia’s snowboarding “street spots” though.

You were always so immersed in snowboarding – the culture, the riding, editing the magazine and of course your illustrations. Do you miss it?
Yes, absolutely. I think it became my identity somewhat, and admittedly I have sometimes struggled trying to plant myself in another realm. If I look back at my life, the friends I keep, the places I’ve been and the things I’ve experienced, they were all through the means of snowboarding. I’m pretty fortunate enough to have had a pretty good run at it all however, there came a point where I had to try other avenues of existence.

You’ve played a tonne of roles as a snowboarder. You were a diehard fanatic, turned shit hot pro getting paid for a quick second, then really gave Transfer the injection of love and new found attitude with your skills of writing, illustrating and design.
My involvement with snowboarding was pretty intensive. I had to have a lot of fingers in a lot of pies because that’s how I am as a person – I get really macro on things. I couldn’t just shut up and snowboard, despite telling people to do exactly that. I consider myself quite proactive about the things I’m into – so the whole getting paid to snowboard deal came about not necessarily because of my riding but because I wanted to help in other areas. I had to offer up everything I had, from designing event flyers, to helping manage the snow component of brands I had a stake in.

Your illustrations are so unique to the Southern Hemisphere snowboard scene. Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I think the theme behind a lot of my snowboard-related illustrations only really appeal to those in the Southern Hemi snowboard web. They almost always take the piss out of snowboarding and its culture, like the lowest form of social commentary. I carried common elements across the work, in the characters I’d depict – whom were based, very loosely, on snowboarders I’d come across. It’s fair to say they are more or less just observations of the “snowboarder”.

Out of all your illustrations over the year, what’s your personal favourite?
Probably one from the ‘How to Have Fun’ regulars, which depicted the ‘backyard training facility’ with the kid doing the reverse scorpion on a PVC rail in his backyard while his dad works the snags on the barbie in the background. I looked at it today, and it immediately resonated with me. I really felt like I captured the moment in that otherwise shitty illustration.

I’d say the #15 Buyer’s Guide cover feels like a real moment too. The interior of a snowboard shop complete with the very first rendition of the Transfer hotdog man at the counter is actually based on my encounter with Big Al’s snowboard shop in Methven, NZ. I’d gone over there pre-season with former editor Alex Horvath to ride this blitz three metre dump, but everywhere was closed so we hung out in the town for a bit. We’d frequent Big Al’s store, and there were all these old banners and catalogues around and it was just all super nostalgic. I’d imagined it to be the most amazing snowboard store back in its heyday (mid ‘90s) and I can even feel myself getting a little emotional about it now.

Do you draw inspiration from anything outside of snowboarding?
All I have is inspiration, and a lot of that comes from hoarding all kinds of garbage. My cloud is chockablock with folders full of things I can appropriate and rip off. I have a few books and I like to keep tabs on people who I think I could emulate. Basically, I’m just connecting the dots on a whole bunch of things I find funny and like. I come from a pretty eclectic upbringing, so I was fortunate enough to be exposed to things that probably underpin aspects of my work nowadays. If you want hard inspiration, start by collecting Letraset.

Yeah, like manual typesetting books. You’d get acetate sheets through a mail order service, and they are full of good typefaces and little illustration and design elements. It’s pretty detached from the look of my work, but still. I am constantly flicking through them.

Does your work now still involve using all your design skills?
Right now, I’m in an all-encompassing crossover role that enables me to somehow have a say in the creative process at any given time, welcomed, wanted or not. While I do illustrate from time to time, the body of my work nowadays consists of animating, content production and storytelling. Which all sounds a bit inflated, but I’m more or less trying to take my ideas into a bigger space. I just want my work to exist in more mediums than one. I like to try different things, and right now I’m trying to upskill in a few more areas so I can join it all together and make multi-dimensional work.

Do you think if you were involved in another industry with more money and support, say surfing for example, you would have made it last longer?

It’s hard to say, as I can only really speak for snowboarding. However, I was privy to what was happening in the surf industry, and there’s no denying it was equally as turbulent in terms of money coming in and out. For me, I made the decision to transition to another outlet as I felt quite insular in my creative explorations, and I couldn’t handle that. Seeing the snowboard industry from another perspective now, I feel as if there is a lot more opportunity to be had than what I thought while I was in it. There are a handful of snowboarders out there who already know and exercise this knowledge, without jeopardising their credibility – and there lies the balance. It really depends on what you want to make of it.

For me, I had an ego problem, because I’d spent all these years snowboarding and couldn’t separate that from making more informed decisions. More support may have helped, but I think ultimately I was a little burnt out because I became so personally invested in it all, and knew that things couldn’t remain that way if I was to put my energy into becoming a Dad.

Any advice or wisdom for the young guns looking to get creative and make a name for themselves?
First and foremost, kids need to discover snowboarding for themselves. I’m an advocate of naturally gravitating towards things, and snowboarding lends itself for all kinds of interpretation. For me, it was first an obsession, then a means of experience, then a way to live, then a career. Now, it’s been a vehicle to another place, in which I can support my family. I have a deep admiration for snowboarding because I’ve piggybacked on it for so long, and snowboarding has given me so much.

I can’t encourage future generations enough to be proactive in shaping what they see as important within snowboarding. Be thoughtful in your approach, because there’s a difference between the kid who picks up a camera with the grandeur of self-promotion, and the kid who picks up a camera because he wants to make something of substance. Learn a skill to complement your snowboarding, be grateful, and kind to lifties. Snowboarding doesn’t owe you shit.


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