Jess Kimura Pro Model by Jono Wood

We’ve been eyeing up Jono Wood’s sketches for years and what better canvas for a snowboarder (an ex-pro at that!) to display his work on than the boards themselves! Last season he got creative for Capita putting his design on the Horrorscope and Microscope. Then it was time to turn pro again, this time taking on the all-amazing role of designing, Cooler’s current cover girl, Jess Kimura’s first pro model board. The perfect man for the job, we caught a few minutes with him to find out all the exciting details…

Interview by Hannah Bailey

How did it come about that you got to design Jess Kimura’s first ever pro-model?
Well I designed the Horrorscopes for Capita, then the Microscopes [the children’s boards] and kind of moved on to pro models. I was up for the challenge of doing Jess’s board, as my art style would suit the idea she had for it: an older movie poster. So she spoke to the head guys at Capita and explained her idea and I was onboard and so set about designing it. That’s how it started. Then there was lots of to and fro-ing over email with Jess to get what she wanted.

So she had a lot of input into the design?
Well, she wanted to design a women’s board that wasn’t too girly. She wanted it to be something that was powerful, that showed a bit of herself in it. How she rides. So that’s the whole idea!

Can you explain the influence and story behind the graphic?
It’s a play on the film, Attack of the 50ft Woman, b-movies… She really likes that sort of era of movie. It was a good example to take and change to make it about her, ‘attack of the 5ft women’, especially after winning all those awards last year. She has used that as a stepping stone to get bigger and better this year, and to pick up more awards! Nothing seems to stop her…

Have you heard what she thinks of the final design?
I got to meet her when she was over in the UK. Due to how far we’re working ahead we had finished it and it was in production when she was here (in November). It’s quite a big process and it was good to actually talk with Jess about it. See if she personally likes it. You’d want your first pro model to be exactly how you imagined it!

I was up for the challenge of doing Jess’s board, as my art style would suit the idea she had for it: an older movie poster.

And now she’s got her first pro model, and she will likely have another one. Do you think that job’s for you?
I’d love to have the honour of doing it again but it’s just up to Capita, which models I get to do. Also it’s down to time. It’s always nice to have time to go away and think about it. Some days with my job you might wake up and not feel inspired and if you’ve got to find an idea for a deadline it’s tough! But it’s nice to have quite a bit of time to play with it, go away with the idea and get back to the guys.

Must be amazing to see your final work on the board, not a rushed job, it’s something you have worked hard for.
Exactly, when you put a lot of hours in to drawing it and making sure it’s perfect. When I see Jess riding it and enjoying it, all those hours have paid off. It’s not only hers, it will trickle down, shops selling it and hopefully loads of other people will be stoked to ride it!

So, silly question but how do you go about designing a board graphic?
I draw it the size of the board and then stuff gets cropped out. The smallest board will have the most amount of cropping and a wider board will have a bit more graphic. Then it’s a case of the factory cutting it out. The factory always sends me one of every top sheet that I get to keep…

How does it feel when you see someone out shredding on one of your boards?
It still doesn’t feel like it’s actually happening! It’s an amazing experience. For me when I’m drawing, talking to Jess or the guys in the office, I kind of forget that it will be seen by a lot more people than me. I’ve got to be 100% happy with it before I turn it out. I will be looking at that board for a year before it even hits the snow…

When you put a lot of hours in to drawing it and making sure it’s perfect. When I see Jess riding it and enjoying it, all those hours have paid off.

Capita has such a cool persona, must be amazing to work with them?
I think they are freer than a lot of companies. The first board I did, last years Horroscope, I sent an email to Blue, had never done a board graphic for the company and I just sent him some of my portfolio. He got back to me saying, why don’t you try doing this board? Showed him my idea and he said, that’s great, I need 7 sizes of it. He was free to take my idea on board and do it as a piece of art, there was no narrow brief… With Jess’ board, obviously we had the idea for the poster, but we weren’t dead set on how it had to look. We played with it and the different layouts until we got the one we felt was the best. They are mellow people to work with and it’s such an honour to work for such a good company.

In general, what influences your work?
There are lots of things. Like my environment, the people, the things that have happened to me… That sort of thing all plays a bit of a factor. But I can just sketch away if I have an idea. It’s great when you get something that’s strong enough that will work. I’m still proud of my boards from this season. I think it’s easy for an artist to feel they have moved on and they are not so happy with how their older work looks. I make sure I am really happy with all I do…

When did you realize you could do this as a living?
When I was at A-levels, my art teacher said ‘you will never make a living drawing like that’. Too cartoony, nothing has black outlines. She made me focus more on technical drawing. Ever since someone says you can’t do something, it just makes you wan to do it even more. Through my years as a sponsored rider I met people and got contacts, but carried on with my drawing. It’s been a long process since I started riding in the 90s. I’ve worked within this industry and seen over 20 years worth of board graphics. I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t. One of the best things about designing for a company like this, is I sit there and do my designs but then I actually get to take my work on to the mountain and use it! I’m not drawing it for the money. I can take my work and use it. Although I don’t actually ride my own boards, it’s quite egotistical…

Wanna see how it turned out? Take a look at it in our ispo sneak peek 

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