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Help me design a topsheet for a frontside carver...

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 

So I run a composites company that makes carbon sporting goods. This year we will be releasing our own brand of advanced/expert frontside carvers (first model will be 78 underfoot w/ a slalom-esque sidecut). We want to know what your favorite topsheets are. They do NOT have to be your favorite performing skis, just your favorite graphics. Thanks!

post #2 of 28

 Hello and welcome.

 If your going to be doing ladies skis I for one am sick to death of graphics that look like tattoos and we don't all love pink! Some ladies are really put off by the graphics on the VJJ which apart from having a name which sounds like a kindergarten kid saying "vagina" appears to have been decorated with pubes! (Hot topic on theskidiva site a couple of months ago.) Perhaps something thats makes you think classy and fun instead of "I love sex" (which we probably do but don't want reminding of when skiing with the kids) Just my opinion.

post #3 of 28

I am fondest of minimal graphics such as DPS. My favorite design approach is Kastle (all but the twin tips).

post #4 of 28

These have always been towards the top of my list.  The old Legend Pros, as well as Vist skis in general.  Simple, timeless, classic, instantly identifiable on slope ... you get the gist of it.

 

 

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post #5 of 28

Cross post that the OP might find useful.  Excited to see how these skis turn out.  

http://www.tetongravity.com/forums/showthread.php/198554-What-are-your-favorite-topsheets

post #6 of 28
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all the great input.  With these and Skibum's link there seems to be a consensus that solid colors or simple landscapes as well as a simple pinstripe are preferred.  This gives us some good ideas for how to put some of the carbon on display without making it overall look too busy.

 

Lily:  my significant other (and co-owner of Sandwich Tech) feels the same way about "women specific" graphics.  She is skiing our 165 with the medium flex option and thinks your "classy but fun" was well said.

post #7 of 28

http://www.on3pskis.com/worst-topsheet-contest-winners/

 

Try not to put any of these on a ski, huh?  Oh, and welcome to Epicski.

 

All carbon composite skis?  Seems like Goode didn't break into the ski test big leagues until they put some wood in the core of their carbon skis.  Ah well, I'd rather have a set of light skis pulling down on my kneecaps on the lift at the end of the day instead of some heavy ass metal Volants.  As long as they aren't too skittery.

 

Topsheet design - here's my $0.02.  Graphics are very much an individual taste thing.  What I do like is the textured topsheets - think snakeskin - that hide scratches and dings better than smooth flat topsheets.  I can't think of any recent skis for an example, would have to go back to my 2004 Head Mad Trix Mojo to put my finger on an exact example.

 

I do like the simple organic designs - like the new Watea 98, the Sir Francis Bacon, and the Eric Pollard opus model especially.

 

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post #8 of 28

I would suggest symmetric graphics vs. asymmetric, better for swapping skis left and right, something that is done a lot to keep edges fresh for a frontside carver. Since you are dealing with carbon and carbon is a technical material and you are starting with a technical ski, I would suggest using it in the graphics, but it has been done, to an extent.

 

 

I do a lot of ski reviews and would be glad to help with on snow testing. PM me.

post #9 of 28

For frontside/carving skis, I've always liked Head's graphics.  Clean, classy, and fast-looking.  For example the new Xshape STX.

post #10 of 28

I love the simple designs with solid colors.  My K2's are horrible, looks like they used the same design machine from the 80's.

 

What not to do:

 

post #11 of 28

I think you should do something Patriotic for your topsheet!!
 

post #12 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpikeDog View Post

All carbon composite skis?  Seems like Goode didn't break into the ski test big leagues until they put some wood in the core of their carbon skis.  Ah well, I'd rather have a set of light skis pulling down on my kneecaps on the lift at the end of the day instead of some heavy ass metal Volants.  As long as they aren't too skittery.

 

Spikedog, the Bacon and Opus have both been very popular answers.  Our skis are not trying to set weight records like early Goode.  Carbon has its strengths (modulus) and its weaknesses (ultimate strain).  At the same time an advanced ski should have a very different flex torsionally than longitudinally - that is where carbon comes in.  While a good wood core is indispensable for alpine skis (regardless of weight added over foam) due to shear strength, metal laminates are not.  Metal affects vibration amplitude, but not decay (true damping).   We do have a proprietary damping system which will be seamlessly laminated into every ski.  Sorry...geeking out a little and derailing my own thread.  Back to graphics!


Edited by SandwichTech - 11/20/12 at 10:29am
post #13 of 28

Patriotic is not a good idea; it limits the market appeal.  Why would I want a stars-and-stripes, or anyone in the rest of the world, other than Americans?  Besides, it's cliché beyond the point of reasonableness.

 

I have a design background (not skis, mind you) and the old adage of "less is more" is appropriate here.  Avoid the "busy" stuff, too much stuff creates visual clutter and a gag reflex response.  Unless of course, you're targeting 13 year olds who have no idea of the sublime (and aren't buying their own skis, by the way) and think lots of crap is somehow "cool". 

 

In any event, the real basic question you need to ask is: "Who is the target audience?"  That then drives the design response, which drives the concept, which then governs the details.

 

So who is your customer/client?  If it's people like us at Epic, we'll be likely looking for something simple, bold, clean, potentially stylish, and not offensive.  If your target is 13 year old, then those design elements are out the window and you can throw any mish-mash of loud, abrasive, colourful, busy graphic symbology (real or representative) and they'll think it's __________ (<---insert latest pop culture word for "good" here).

 

 

On a side note, technical frontside skis are generally more narrow, so less actual surface area to work with in terms of design, unlike fat powder skis. That said, there's also a connotation that technical skis could theoretically be more "technical" in topsheet design (see Elan 88XTI, by Porsche Design Studio.....sleek, simple, "technical" looking) rather than what we often see on Freeride skis.  Perhaps I'm reading a bit too deep into it, but as you know design ellicits some sort of emotional response (if done well), and even subconsciously people will draw the connection.  Frontside skis rarely have "picture" designs like Spike shows (those are beautiful, by the way); they generally have more patterned, abstract, technical designs that aren't compositions.  Again, I would refer to Elan's new designs....sexy and simple.

 

Ok, that's the design geek in me almost going off on a tangent.  Don't get me started LOL.

post #14 of 28
Thread Starter 

philpug, you make a good point about symmetric graphics.  We do intend to use carbon in our graphics.  The braided biax fabric is too good looking not to.  I just want to make sure that the overall appearance does not suffer because of my love of carbon :)   Where do you ski?  We ski Cannon and will be setting up a demo day there this year (but we are happy to meet up with people anytime).

post #15 of 28

1000

 

The problem is that you want to set yourself apart with a ski that says, "Carve."  Ski Logik did this with the Occam's Razor, both in name ("Razor") and in design (the curves look like a blade or an arc a ski might make).  The graphics of a carbon weave look cool, but it doesn't say "carve" as well as a topsheet with  lines or a "blade"/radii design.  If the ski carves and you are new without a loyal following , why not have a topsheet that screams "carve?"  I am no graphic designer and can't help in finding the right design...I just know it when I see it.  My alternative would be what was listed above in using a VIST  type of design.

post #16 of 28

I really like the look of the new 4FRNT Cody.

 

Also, many of the Moment designs.

 

And +1 on the Pollard Opus.

 

I own none of these skis, I should add, so I'm not the slightest bit biased.

post #17 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gunnerbob View Post

On a side note, technical frontside skis are generally more narrow, so less actual surface area to work with in terms of design, unlike fat powder skis. That said, there's also a connotation that technical skis could theoretically be more "technical" in topsheet design (see Elan 88XTI, by Porsche Design Studio.....sleek, simple, "technical" looking) rather than what we often see on Freeride skis.  Perhaps I'm reading a bit too deep into it, but as you know design ellicits some sort of emotional response (if done well), and even subconsciously people will draw the connection.  Frontside skis rarely have "picture" designs like Spike shows (those are beautiful, by the way); they generally have more patterned, abstract, technical designs that aren't compositions.  Again, I would refer to Elan's new designs....sexy and simple.

 

Ok, that's the design geek in me almost going off on a tangent.  Don't get me started LOL.

 

Gunner, please feel free to go on a tangent...this is exactly the kind of design-input we are looking for.  The comparison between freeride and frontside graphics that you described is a discussion we have often.  As we will be a semi-custom brand, we can offer a variety of graphics on our site, but want to make sure that the frontside message remains clear.  Also one of these graphics will be primary and become our stock model.  Keeping this balance is why the DPS topsheets are so appealing to me.  They can be slightly technical to appease the frontside aspect, yet they are different enough to still portray the "boutique brand" message (something we dont want to lose by going too Euro-race).  I imagine a fly on a wall at DPS overheard a similar discussion with their use of advanced composites.

post #18 of 28

All depends on your target demographic, no? I'm an old guy, not so into ruthlessly classic minimalist designs, although something to be said for Kastle or Vist. Less can be more.

 

OTOH, doubt you'd sell many to folks under 30 whether minimalist or not because it's a narrow ski. And from a purely commercial viewpoint, I'd avoid something that screams "handcrafted," like SkiLogik, because most people who are gonna appreciate it are over 40 and spend way too much time on their table saws making, ah, inlay tables. duck.gif

 

Maybe you want to establish a theme that you can elaborate as you make skis with more surface area later. IMO PM Gear skis have a nice design, sort of Buddhist post-modern, over clear, so lot of the carbon shows through. Also like the Opus evolution, and it's worth a look at Prior's site for some great top sheet designs that involve nature. Some of the quasi-photographic stuff, like H2O or 4FNT or the new Rocker2 series from Salomon can work, especially with a mountain/snow theme.

 

Would only advise you to hire an actual graphic artist and stay on top of your design goals, not theirs. Bad art is still just as bad if a pro skier does it on the plane to events, or a builder decides 75 photo collages are cool. (Moment et al. are you listening?) Finally, you always have the dark side beckoning, literally, and I'd guess it's over, very last decade. Demonic clowns or their barf, skulls with phallic snakes, etc. Rossi, Nordica, and K2 are the worst offenders here, but a few of the Indies have climbed aboard too. Funny how ski graphics people lose track of how dated - or even offensive - their stuff can look, like Atomic's "thug art" from a few years ago. As a reality check go see what high school and college students are wearing. No, not the 5% on skateboards. The 95% with the purchasing power. Right now it's ironic garage sale/retro. Hipster. Suspect that'll be trendy on topsheets very soon now. 

post #19 of 28

whenever hear something about carving-carvers suddenly flippers pop up in my mind...wink.gif

post #20 of 28

I like asymmetric skis that make one image.  I think it's much more appealing to look at than two skis that are the same.  Another +1 for the Opus, thats one of my favorites. 

I also believe that a good base is key to getting noticed.  It doesn't need to be over complicated just something that catches the eye and sets it apart from other skis.  A logo that goes towards the tip usually works well.  Big props if you can make an asymmetric graphic that flows no matter what foot they are on.

 

The Frenzy by RAMP is one of my favorite looking skis.  How the graphic is sublimated into the veneer looks sweet.  I know it's not possible to do something like this with composites.  Rotule longboards does have a sweet looking board that has a carbon fiber layer a wooden veneer over it.  I'm having trouble posting the picture but heres the link.  http://www.rotulelongboards.com/en/deserteagle.php  

post #21 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by beyond View Post

All depends on your target demographic, no? I'm an old guy, not so into ruthlessly classic minimalist designs, although something to be said for Kastle or Vist. Less can be more.

 

OTOH, doubt you'd sell many to folks under 30 whether minimalist or not because it's a narrow ski. And from a purely commercial viewpoint, I'd avoid something that screams "handcrafted," like SkiLogik, because most people who are gonna appreciate it are over 40 and spend way too much time on their table saws making, ah, inlay tables. duck.gif

 

Maybe you want to establish a theme that you can elaborate as you make skis with more surface area later. IMO PM Gear skis have a nice design, sort of Buddhist post-modern, over clear, so lot of the carbon shows through. Also like the Opus evolution, and it's worth a look at Prior's site for some great top sheet designs that involve nature. Some of the quasi-photographic stuff, like H2O or 4FNT or the new Rocker2 series from Salomon can work, especially with a mountain/snow theme.

 

Would only advise you to hire an actual graphic artist and stay on top of your design goals, not theirs. Bad art is still just as bad if a pro skier does it on the plane to events, or a builder decides 75 photo collages are cool. (Moment et al. are you listening?) Finally, you always have the dark side beckoning, literally, and I'd guess it's over, very last decade. Demonic clowns or their barf, skulls with phallic snakes, etc. Rossi, Nordica, and K2 are the worst offenders here, but a few of the Indies have climbed aboard too. Funny how ski graphics people lose track of how dated - or even offensive - their stuff can look, like Atomic's "thug art" from a few years ago. As a reality check go see what high school and college students are wearing. No, not the 5% on skateboards. The 95% with the purchasing power. Right now it's ironic garage sale/retro. Hipster. Suspect that'll be trendy on topsheets very soon now. 

Nice, well-thought-out post, beyond.  Agree with 99% of it.  Things seemed to get out of hand with the Seth Pistol.  And I don't want clowns; whoever thought that was cool?  They must have done their marketing research at TGR.

 

But snakes?  My favorite ski topsheet of all time (only counting the ones I have owned):

1000

post #22 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skibum220 View Post

I like asymmetric skis that make one image.  I think it's much more appealing to look at than two skis that are the same.  Another +1 for the Opus, thats one of my favorites. 

I also believe that a good base is key to getting noticed.  It doesn't need to be over complicated just something that catches the eye and sets it apart from other skis.  A logo that goes towards the tip usually works well.  Big props if you can make an asymmetric graphic that flows no matter what foot they are on.

 

 

The Frenzy by RAMP is one of my favorite looking skis.  How the graphic is sublimated into the veneer looks sweet.  I know it's not possible to do something like this with composites.  Rotule longboards does have a sweet looking board that has a carbon fiber layer a wooden veneer over it.  I'm having trouble posting the picture but heres the link.  http://www.rotulelongboards.com/en/deserteagle.php  

 

Its funny you should mention a longboard...that is a large part of our business, so I am very familiar with Rotule's decks.  A flip-able asymmetric graphic is an interesting challenge...

post #23 of 28

Thats really cool that you guys build boards too.  I'll have to check them out sometime.

Are you familiar with the Soda Factory?  The surf finished boards that Rus produces are amazing, both with composites and fabrics.  A ski with a fabric topsheet such as a Soda board would be amazing.  I know it would take away from the carbon but I'd pick up a set of skis for a topsheet like that.  Some of his work can be seen in one of the sale threads over on silverfish.  http://www.silverfishlongboarding.com/forum/longboard-sales-deals-discounts/289662-soda-factory-aftershock-sale-dessert-2.html

post #24 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skibum220 View Post

I like asymmetric skis that make one image.  I think it's much more appealing to look at than two skis that are the same.  Another +1 for the Opus, thats one of my favorites. 

I also believe that a good base is key to getting noticed.  It doesn't need to be over complicated just something that catches the eye and sets it apart from other skis.  A logo that goes towards the tip usually works well.  Big props if you can make an asymmetric graphic that flows no matter what foot they are on.

 

The Frenzy by RAMP is one of my favorite looking skis.  How the graphic is sublimated into the veneer looks sweet.  I know it's not possible to do something like this with composites.  Rotule longboards does have a sweet looking board that has a carbon fiber layer a wooden veneer over it.  I'm having trouble posting the picture but heres the link.  http://www.rotulelongboards.com/en/deserteagle.php  

It's funny, I like totem poles too. But would point out that there are now a slew of makers (Prior started it I think, now Ramp, Liberty, coupla others) using the same basic motif on at least model. Could get burned out soon. Or not...

post #25 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by SandwichTech View Post

 

Gunner, please feel free to go on a tangent...this is exactly the kind of design-input we are looking for.  The comparison between freeride and frontside graphics that you described is a discussion we have often.  As we will be a semi-custom brand, we can offer a variety of graphics on our site, but want to make sure that the frontside message remains clear.  Also one of these graphics will be primary and become our stock model.  Keeping this balance is why the DPS topsheets are so appealing to me.  They can be slightly technical to appease the frontside aspect, yet they are different enough to still portray the "boutique brand" message (something we dont want to lose by going too Euro-race).  I imagine a fly on a wall at DPS overheard a similar discussion with their use of advanced composites.


Well here's the thing: each company (at least the best ones) have a "hook".  They have something "signature" that's instantly recognizable as THEM.  Branding is integral to design; they are one and the same when done successfully.  SkiLogik has wood veneer in whatever pattern, and regardless of whether it's technical patterning or freeride picture, a Ski Logik product is instantly recognizable as Ski Logik.  DPS is the same; when you see a DPS, you know it's a DPS.  Patterns or colours vary, but the theme remains regardless of the model.  

 

You need the same.  And to be clear, I'm not talking about a logo.  I'm talking about branding.  Very different.  When you see a Ferrari, you KNOW it's a Ferrari.  You don't question it, you don't hesitate, you don't even need to know what model it is; you just KNOW it's a Ferrari, and chances are you lust after it.  THAT is marketing and design symbiosis made in heaven.

 

So my suggestion (and this is just me, perhaps) is that you need a hook.  Something that people will know that those are YOUR skis.  Recognizable, probably simple, bold, and resonant.  Simple and Strong are the two design mantras.  Question is: what is that hook, what is the look, what is that branding?  Dunno.  That's your call, but you definitely need it if you want to break into the market successfully ;)

post #26 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gunnerbob View Post


Well here's the thing: each company (at least the best ones) have a "hook".  They have something "signature" that's instantly recognizable as THEM.  Branding is integral to design; they are one and the same when done successfully.  SkiLogik has wood veneer in whatever pattern, and regardless of whether it's technical patterning or freeride picture, a Ski Logik product is instantly recognizable as Ski Logik.  DPS is the same; when you see a DPS, you know it's a DPS.  Patterns or colours vary, but the theme remains regardless of the model.  

 

You need the same.  And to be clear, I'm not talking about a logo.  I'm talking about branding.  Very different.  When you see a Ferrari, you KNOW it's a Ferrari.  You don't question it, you don't hesitate, you don't even need to know what model it is; you just KNOW it's a Ferrari, and chances are you lust after it.  THAT is marketing and design symbiosis made in heaven.

 

So my suggestion (and this is just me, perhaps) is that you need a hook.  Something that people will know that those are YOUR skis.  Recognizable, probably simple, bold, and resonant.  Simple and Strong are the two design mantras.  Question is: what is that hook, what is the look, what is that branding?  Dunno.  That's your call, but you definitely need it if you want to break into the market successfully ;)

That is what Klint did with their "Karver."  I never skied it, but the Eric, the Exoticskis.com guy, liked it a lot.  The topsheet gives that "simple, bold and resonant" image.  Well, to me it does.

 

1000


Edited by quant2325 - 11/20/12 at 7:43pm
post #27 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gunnerbob View Post


Well here's the thing: each company (at least the best ones) have a "hook".  They have something "signature" that's instantly recognizable as THEM.  Branding is integral to design; they are one and the same when done successfully.  

 

Absolutely.  That's what I was referring to when I mentioned "instantly identifiable on slope".  You want a look that says it's your product.  Vist and Kastle have that by the bucketful - even from a distance.  

 

Also (and this hasn't been covered) the base design is an important call for many manufacturers, especially given how many 'air' shots hit the magazines and videos, where all you can see of the skis is the bases.  Of course this may not be your primary concern seeing you're designing frontside carving skis.  Still, nice to know what skis someone was on when they laid out a yard sale redface.gif

 

I'll be interested to see what you decide on, so I hope you post up some of your designs.

 

Best of luck.

post #28 of 28

Quant: VERY nice.  Moderne, futuristic.  Klint could take that same design and superimpose it on several different colour topsheets and call it a lineup.  Or do a positive/negative thing, keep the black topsheet, and simply change the colour of the lines.  See Kastle for egg-shaped theme variant.wink.gif

 

 

And as much as I love the technical aspects about a ski, I own a set of Ski Logik skis that I think are gorgeous, and a pair of Dynastar Contact 4x4 (red stripe) that I think are sexy as well.  Call me facetious, but I love great-looking skis.  They speak to me, they say something about me when I'm on the slopes.

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