20/15 – The Asymbol Vision

Chomolungma - The North Face of Everest

A little over a year ago I was invited to feature an early work of mine on Travis Rice’s online art gallery, Asymbol.

I’ve known Travis for years from living in Jackson Hole, and I was honored to join the ranks of Asymbol’s artists. To be a part of that community is cool, not to mention the inspiration I get from seeing the hyper-creativity and unique perspectives that artists like Blotto, Jamie Lynn, Todd Glaser, Scott Serfas and Jeff Curtis (I’m missing a ton here) bring to the table.

This month, I’m stoked to have Asymbol feature another work of mine, Chomolungma (seen above), the North Face of Everest. The pic was shot in 2002 on an expedition with Stephen Koch and Eric Henderson to attempt the Japanese Couloir/Hornbein Route alpine style and then ski/snowboard it as well. The experience was life-changing and the beginning of a long relationship with the mountain.

It’s amazing to look at Asymbol and see how much the company has grown in just over a year. New artists, an unreal gallery in Jackson Hole, road events – it’s definitely become a space you can’t take your eyes off. To get the download on the latest happenings I reached out to Managing Director Alex Hillinger. Check the interview and killer images from the gallery below.

Red Tetons by Mike Parillo

Red Tetons by Mike Parillo

First, let’s talk about the genesis of Asymbol. How did it come to be?

It was 2009 when Travis Rice and his good friend and artist Mike Parillo conceived of a gallery to showcase the artists and the works that they found incredible. It was about assembling all these artists in one place, which until that point didn’t exist. To Travis and Mike that was a travesty, and they set out to correct it.

So Asymbol was launched and it started out as an online gallery, an ecommerce play. Asymbol did a really good job of bringing the right artists on board, telling the right stories, and getting people energized around the group of art and artists that had been assembled.

Things really took off in 2011 when the Art of Flight came out. The movie ushered in massive awareness of Travis, and Asymbol was integrated into the film and the merchandise around the film. The movie was really a catalyst for pushing Asymbol out to a much broader audience.

How did you arrive on the scene?

I knew Trav and Mike socially. They were aware of what I did for work — using the Internet as a platform for community building and as a retail channel for a number of start ups. At the time that was the direction Asymbol was taking the business, so the timing was good for both of us. Plus Travis was embarking on his next film, and Mike was heading to LA to take his own art to the next level, so they needed someone in charge of Asymbol who had a vision for the where the company could go. The thinking was that a bigger presence online and a physical gallery would really open up some storytelling possibilities.

We literally have people rolling up their sleeves
and showing us the tattoo
of the same piece of art they’re looking at.

There’s no question that vision has been great for the company. Tell us about some of the more recent milestones.

Well the big one is the gallery opening in the summer of 2014 in Jackson, Wyoming. It’s provided a destination for people coming to Jackson who connect with our art. Our artists and photographers have a lot of followers, and not just within the snowboarding culture – we’re talking people who connect deeply with nature, mountains, oceans. A physical home for the brand allows us to host events and art openings and have living, breathing humans come into the gallery and experience the art in the real world. There’s just no substitute for experiencing art with your own two eyes.

So with the gallery we tried to create an experience. We asked at the macro level what it should feel like to walk into the Asymbol gallery? How should it feel to stand in front of a Jimmy Chin piece, or a Mike Parillo piece. If you’re someone who’s been a fan of the artist, you’ve checked out their website and followed their work and now you finally get to come into the gallery, that moment should feel like an epiphany. It’s been awesome to see fans so happy to finally get to see the art in person. We literally have people rolling up their sleeves and showing us the tattoo of the same piece of art they’re looking at.

We’ve also taken the show on the road. We did openings in Seattle and Portland. Both were really well received. We gave people the chance to connect the community with the artist and the artwork. And these are people who don’t really get to ever see this artwork in original form. Yes, maybe they saw it in a magazine or as a snowboard graphic. But when you actually get to see the fine art version, it takes you to a new level of appreciation.

And what’s most amazing is that some of the pieces people love the most were created over a decade ago. The board or the product associated with the image is long gone, but the art itself is just as relevant as when it was originally created. And that’s the beauty of this art. It’s timeless. It tells a story.

The Asymbol Gallery in Jackson, Wyoming

The Asymbol Gallery in Jackson, Wyoming

So how do you go about choosing an Asymbol artist?

It mostly comes down to fitting in with the existing collection of art we have. And it’s not necessarily about being an aesthetic fit. It’s more about the vibe we get from an artist. Do they fit in with the point of view we’re trying to express? The point of view of embracing the spirit of adventure. A love of nature. Respect for art. The process of creation.

In the early days of Asymbol, the artists were related to snowboarding, skating, or surfing. We’ve started to bring in artists who don’t have that same story, but they are a really great fit.

What’s coming down the pike for Asymbol?

One of the biggest things we’re doing now is custom printing. We produce all of our own prints in the gallery. That’s really unique – most galleries don’t do that. We feel it’s important to control the quality of the image we sell. And now we’ve opened up that printing service to photographers and artists who are looking for that same level of quality in their prints. Up until now it’s been word of mouth — ‘hey, Asymbol is not just a gallery, they’re also company that can crank out super high quality large format prints.’ So we’re in the process of formally rolling that service out. It’s about fulfilling our mission of making art accessible and to show reverence towards those who produce great art.

Also, there’s going to be a new Travis Rice film to follow up the Art of Flight, so we’re making preparations for that. Stay tuned…

Scroll down to see more work from Asymbol artists. Or check out all the work on the Asymbol website.

Koma Kulshan by Iuna Tinta

Koma Kulshan by Iuna Tinta

Cyclops by Trent Mitchell

Cyclops by Trent Mitchell

Illumination by Scott Serfas

Illumination by Scott Serfas

Another Love Story by Mike Parillo

Another Love Story by Mike Parillo

Turtle Glide by Trent Mitchell

Turtle Glide by Trent Mitchell