If Roger Keith “Syd” Barrett hadn’t reached for the answers too soon, we’d have never heard such mosaic sounds. And upon his return to Earth, Syd had not found his knowledge easily translated. And soon he became A target for far away laughter. An artist’s greatest skill is not to access the unknown, but rather be accessible to it. The joke of it all is this: the burden is no longer on the shoulders of the artist but rather in the ability for their audience to translate it.
I was able to speak with an old friend of mine, and artist, recently—Nick Tietz. He and I have no quarrel with gestures unfamiliar to most people. We discussed how Snowboarding and art connected and we spoke with an accent that rambled; but a question him and I are both enticed by. It went like this:
“Who are you when you snowboard?”
“I play guitar in admiration of Jimmy Page. I’m a diehard zeppelin fan, you know this. Now Jim was a little fucked up and he was bizarre. But as a musician, he is very talented. Very talented. And when I ride I imagine I feel like he did on the strings. It’s that connection you have. It’s exhausting yourself while experimenting with what you can do, meanwhile, nobody is telling you what to do. At some points it may be sloppy but the creativity, the process, it’s all there. He did whatever the fuck he felt like doing. And that’s how I feel. I never needed a tutor, or… a teacher. I only wanted the outlet.”
Nick has long hair, he curses, and he shouts old lyrics from The Doors. But his laugh is like thunder and he means what he says. Like so few these days, he’s a remnant of an old soul that’s taken refuge within him. And very possibly, the same one that’s known the likes of Pablo Picasso, T.S. Eliot, and Janice Joplin. The similarities are uncanny. And while the phenotype of these artists are few and far between, at their core, they are all slowly molting into what could be called the artists dilemma; or the perpetual desire for freedom. More importantly, how one obtains it. But what’s more fascinating is how one discovers this.
“How long did it take you to find your style?”
“About four to five years after I started. I don’t know, probably senior year. Before then I didn’t think about anything more than doing the trick. But what I really wanted was the feeling the pros got when they stomp tricks. And so naturally, I took things from all of them. Some here, some there. I watched people intensely. How does so and so do this? What’s their go-to trick? Through all that, I found it when I found what inspired me. It took a while. But after so long you begin to take ownership of the sport and it becomes your identity. It was a way to show the world who I was, what I liked, and what inspired me, through a… a board.”
In an unlikely place he’s found an outlet. But no less is a blanketed hill far from a blank canvas. A snowboard or a paintbrush? While I’ve known Nick through his early days of riding, I knew him as the boy he described; aimless. But style requires you, the rider, to understand yourself, before it can come to fruition. The term is no longer the way we understand it in its usual context, but rather a word that stands for the energy we all access when we’re given the freedom and opportunity to translate it.
“Before you found it, did you feel like it was already there?”
“Yeah, I really did. But I was still doing the tricks just to do them. I always knew what people thought were cool and so I did that. I’d do an indy back then but now I do it with style, and now it’s a different trick. You see the difference was that before I hadn’t owned my riding; I was only copying. But I like skate style. And that’s what I draw from. So I mean, really… I found my style when I rode away happy rather than riding away and saying, ‘Oh. I did an indy.’ And you know now, being able to ride away with something you came up with in your head is… incredible.”
While we go in depth further, I must point out the irony in the matter, and this is it… it’s only a hill we love, a snowboard we own, and gravity we play with. Have we lost the freedom we are given as soon as we try to define it?
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