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Nudibranchs. Or as we learned from Niche team rider Tove Bratthall, the little thieves of the sea. You see, nudibranchs, those beautiful little sea slugs that come in seemingly endless shapes, patterns and colors, are able to steal abilities from other creatures and even plants, and use them for their own benefit! For example, they can develop the ability to photosynthesize by eating algae, or develop ability to sting predators by eating part of a creature that carries venom. Not all nudibranchs pose a threat, but enough of them do that it is never a good idea to touch one with an ungloved hand. You never know what sort of abilities they may have adopted to survive! After learning about these beautiful and crafty little beasts, we knew we had to create a snowboard graphic featuring them. And so, Niche’s Creative Director, and illustrator Zosia Olenska got straight to work.

Once a graphic concept is decided upon, we begin the graphic process with sketches organizing general layout, illustrative concept, technique and style. The 23/24 Nightshade was created using pen and ink, and then brought into photoshop for coloring. The illustration itself, while incredibly detailed, seemed to come together rather quickly!

Then came the tricky part – the coloring. We knew we wanted to tell a story about these spicy little beasts and the habitats they call home, but also wanted to invoke a certain emotion and feeling when looking at the finished piece. It’s easy to get carried away with endless color and texture options when it comes to coral reef and nudibranchs. Inspiration is endless! But we wanted the piece to feel serene and stylized. For things to feel as though they had enough separation, but had a nearly-too-cohesive color palette that made the gestalt a slow discovery. Something that would take many chairlift rides to discover. Something that enhanced the beauty of the space it existed within, and added entertainment and interest. After 18 different color and texture finish variations…

…a final piece was finally massaged out of the efforts. Exciting but muted, peaceful, interesting and fun. A little bit whimsical. Full of texture and depth. Full of a sense of wonder.

Each Niche graphic also has a special foil stamp design on it, featuring coordinates to a place that somehow coincides with the individual graphic story.

23/24 Nightshade center foil stamp coordinates: Bangka Island, Indonesia
With over 25 dive sites, Pulau Bangka lies in the epicentre of the Coral Triangle, which is synonymous with marine abundance and variety. Situated in the divers’ paradise of North Sulawesi, it is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, the Celebes Sea and the Moluccas Sea. Bangka is part of an island group together with Kinabohutan, Gangga, Talisei and Tindila. Pelagics, reef fish, critters, large species and colourful corals festoon the sloping reefs and spectacular pinnacles. The healthy reef life here includes soft corals, sea fans, sponges, table corals and tree corals. Rock pinnacles are patrolled by reef sharks, tuna, fusiliers and mackerel. Keep your camera on hand to snap the variety of pygmy seahorses, harlequin and tiger shrimps.

Music is always a beautiful part of the graphic creation here at Niche! Enjoy the 23/24 Graphic Style Guide playlist on Niche’s Spotify channel.

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