Geometric Aesthetics in Winter: A Look at Simon Beck’s Snow Drawings

Simon Beck's Snow Art
Simon Beck’s Snow Art

Indeed, the biting chill and the stark white expanse of winter may deter most from venturing out, but it is an invitation to create for Simon Beck. The snow-covered mountains and frosted lakes become his canvas, where he meticulously crafts expansive geometric patterns. Each trudge in the snow is a stroke of his paintbrush, every step a testament to his dedication. Beck’s art is temporary and fragile, yet it leaves an indelible mark on the viewer, transforming the bleak winter landscape into a mesmerizing gallery of intricate designs.

With each crunch of his snowshoes, Simon Beck imprints his artistic vision on large expanses of untouched snow. Beck, a connoisseur of mathematical patterns, integrates these intricate designs into his snow art, producing pieces that can be mind-bogglingly complex yet exquisitely beautiful. Each giant snow artwork is a testament to Beck’s meticulous process of stomping out patterns that are as immense as they are ephemeral. 

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Simon Beck creates perfect, detailed geometrical designs using nothing more than a traditional compass, a map drawing and a pair of trusted snowshoes to make carefully-planned tracks in the snow.

The impressive patterns, whether they manifest as starbursts, spirals, or geometric mandalas, are born from fresh snowfalls and shaped entirely by Beck’s boots’ trudge. Every year, viewers are treated to a stunning series of these designs, each adding a unique touch to the winter landscape. 

Armed with only a compass and snowshoes, Simon Beck works his magic, painstakingly crafting perfect geometric shapes by methodically traversing the snowfield. Remarkably, he achieves this feat without machinery, relying solely on his navigation skills and knowledge of orienteering. This expertise and attention to detail keep Beck’s installations near perfection despite the seemingly insurmountable challenges of his chosen canvas.

Simon Beck creates intricate geometric designs in the snow using only his feet strapped to snow shoes.
Simon Beck creates intricate geometric designs in the snow using only his feet strapped to snow shoes.

Beck’s journey into snow artistry was far from happenstance. Originally, Beck pursued engineering at Oxford, leading him onto a career path as a cartographer. During this time, he honed his precision and spatial visualization skills. However, his transformation into a landscape artist was set in motion when he began spending his winters in Les Arcs, a popular ski resort in France. 

In the beginning stages of a project, Beck resorts to graph paper, where he plots his intricate designs. These early drafts then serve as a roadmap for his larger-than-life snow installations. Each artwork is a labor of meticulous persistence and dedication, taking anywhere from six hours to a few days to complete. The size of his designs is utterly breathtaking, with some spanning approximately 450 meters. 

Creating these elaborate patterns is no mean feat, especially when dealing with the unpredictable nature of winter weather. Straight lines result from Beck using a compass and walking straight toward a pre-identified point, while curves are drawn by instinct and judgment. Both techniques necessitate a steep learning curve and copious amounts of practice to achieve the level of perfection seen in Beck’s work. His former experience in mathematics, geometry, and his cartographic knowledge play a significant role in guiding his creative process. This unique fusion of artistry and precision underscores Beck’s remarkable talent as a snow artist.

The Snow Art of Simon Beck

Snow Art by Simon Beck
Snow Art by Simon Beck

The diversity of Simon Beck’s designs ranges from whimsical snowflakes to imposing three-dimensional squares, ethereal starbursts, and mesmerizing spirograph patterns. These temporary art installations possess an inherent transient beauty, lasting only until the mountain winds decide to whisk them away across the valleys. Simon Beck’s process is cyclic, keeping in rhythm with the natural world. As each blanket of snow falls, sometimes daily, he revisits his canvas, designing and redesigning his remarkable snow patterns repeatedly over the same site. Too often, the harsh reality of nature interjects, preventing Beck from finishing a piece due to fresh snowfall or covering the pieces he labored over all day with a night’s worth of snow. 

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This short documentary by Flash Studio follows Beck’s preparations for a piece he did in Stryn, Norway, on a day of good snow. Watch and join him as he catches a first glimpse of a masterpiece that, after many steps and calculations, would most likely be covered in two days.

Therefore, the lifespan of the installations can vary greatly, enduring from several weeks to a mere few days, either eroded by the mountain winds or concealed by fresh snowfall. This ephemeral quality of Beck’s work adds an extra layer of depth, making his snow art as unpredictable as the winter weather itself.

Despite the temporary nature and remote locations of Simon Beck’s snow artworks, his commitment to making his art accessible transcends these barriers. Recognizing his works’ inherent travel constraints and transitory life, Beck proactively captures his artworks through photography, giving them permanency. His photographic collection serves as proof of his talent and dedication, and it also allows a wider audience to appreciate his artistic brilliance. 

Beck’s “Snow Art” pocketbook is a testament to this effort. This visually captivating book includes photographs of almost all his completed snow drawings, preserving their existence far beyond their short lifespan in the snow. Some of his most cherished works are exclusively featured in this book, making it a unique collection not available anywhere else. This book serves as a fantastic conversation starter, perfectly suited to grace the coffee table of any outdoor enthusiast or art lover, offering a glimpse into the extraordinary world of Beck’s ephemeral art.

Simon Beck's Book, Snow Art
Simon Beck’s Book, Snow Art | You can get the book on Amazon!

Beck fervently believes that anyone can create a “snow drawing.” He proposes a simple method: repeatedly tread a straightforward shape into the snow until an astonishing pattern emerges. According to Beck, the geometry is the easy part. Remarkably, he has instructed novices to trace out a Koch snowflake, a sophisticated lacework of triangles, in as little as 10 minutes. This approach demystifies his art form and makes it accessible to people of all ages and abilities, reinforcing that art is a universal language bound only by the limits of one’s creativity and imagination.

You may also enjoy reading these:

• Wilson Snowflake Bentley’s Mesmerizing Snowflakes Collection
Snowflake Generator
Freeze Soap Bubbles In Winter
• Treeline

Ali Kaya


Ali Kaya

This is Ali. Bespectacled and mustachioed father, math blogger, and soccer player. I also do consult for global math and science startups.