Don’t get me wrong, I love James Niehues’ style and incredible body of work.
As a teenager I’d pored over dozens upon dozens of his maps, imagining lines, wondering how closely each hand-painted tree matches reality, and daydream of trails I’d ski and lifts I’d ride. His art defined a big chunk of skiing’s image for a generation.
But as that generation closes, it’s been interesting to see who and what is being used in place of James and his paints.
While I’ve talked about other like Senan Gorman’s North Pole Design, Kevin Mastin’s Stray Horse Arts, and digital upstarts like Utah-based Wander Maps, a recent map for Little Switzerland caught my attention with a style of art I’ve never really seen before.
IF the first thing you think of is a video game, you’re not alone. That’s exactly the thought that came to my mind and, when Stuart shared this a few weeks back, that’s what a follower of his noticed too.
Agree. I love this map. Personally I think we need fewer niehues imitators and more homegrown stuff like this.
— The Storm Skiing Journal & Podcast (@StormSkiJournal) October 28, 2022
I also echo Stuart’s sentiment that, as we move out of the Niehues era, I hope we don’t feel like the only option is to find someone who can wield a physical brush a well as James does.
In case you hadn’t heard, video games are kinda popular. The ability to render scenes in inspiring, mesmerizing, but also accurate and interactive ways has never been more realistic for resorts and more relevant for skiers. So why not try something new, why not start with a bit more of a blank slate and see where fresh ideas take you?
Wherever maps goes from here and however much I still have a place in my heart for a Niehues map, it’s exciting to see some new ideas being experimented with. Nice work, Little Switz.
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