With the success of both That’s It, That’s All and The Art Of Flight, no one would fault Travis Rice if he were to rest on his Cineflex exposed laurels, yet his overachieving ways don’t stop when the credits begin to roll. The same work ethic and forward-thinking approach that Travis brings to the big screen can be seen in every aspect of his life. In terms of snowboarding, Travis has many layers of commitment ranging from providing his freeriding peers with the ultimate proving grounds in the Ultra Natural to highlighting the riding aesthetic in its more artistic forms with the Asymbol Gallery. While the follow up to The Art Of Flight is just now taking off, it will be several years till we can all revel in the fruits of this next endeavor. For now, we can keep tabs on Rice via the recently launched travisrice.com which, according to Travis, is “a place I put up original content, hype any projects we have going on, point to friends and sponsors, put up sweet photos, and play the social game.”
– Pat Bridges
Lets start with discussing why you started Asymbol. What it is, who is involved, and how Asymbol has evolved over the past few years.
Asymbol was a passion project that evolved into a gallery and professional print studio. It started simply because I was a fan of art and photography within boardsports and the committed individuals behind this art. I remember trying to track down photographers for a print of my favorite shots from the magazines with no luck. Board graphics have also been such a huge part of snowboard culture and the stories behind some of the best are worth telling again. Our world is remembered through imagery not statistics. We felt that there was no established connection between creator and appreciator, so Mike Parillo and I started Asymbol. The name is a cross between “assemble” and “symbol.” We wanted to assemble the family of image-makers and focus on their most symbolic images and photos, which really could convey where we have come from. Photographer Tim Zimmerman and Claire Johnson helped us get this started and now almost four years later we are the verge of launching a brand new website and building out our first physical gallery space. We have a toured gallery shows through fifteen countries, have sent art and photography to shredders all over the world, and we also give 5% off the top to our non-profit partners. I have recently brought Alex Hillinger in as a partner to run it with my sister Ashley.
Tell us a little about Mike Parillo and his influence on snowboarding for the past two decades, from making some of the earliest terrain parks in So Cal to creating the aesthetic for Volcom’s The Garden, to painting some of the most talked about board graphics of all time.
Parillo is an incredibly talented and driven individual. When he puts his mind to something there is no stopping him. I remember first approaching him to do my second graphic with Lib Tech like seven years ago and was so thrilled when he said yes. I had known of Mike ever since seeing the 2000 Burton Balance snowboard line. I thought it was one of the best graphics of all time. When I learned a bit more about Mike and his creating some of the first parks, along with the [stories] that Bryan Iguchi would tell me of him, I knew I had to meet this man someday. I have collaborated with him on five graphics to date.
Who are some of the artists and photographers that Asymbol grown to work with?
It has been an inspiring process of bringing on new people and learning more about their individual styles over the years. Asymbol has worked with some of the best photogs in snowboarding including: Jeff Curtes, Tim Zimmerman, Scott Serfas, Cole Barash, Oli Gagnon, Danny Zapalac, and Chris Brunkhart. Outside of snowboarding we work with Ari Marcopoulos, Todd Glaser, Mike Blabac, and Trent Mitchell. Our pals on paper include Mike Parillo, Adam Haynes, Nick Russian, Bryan Iguchi, Carl Smith, Matt French, Scott Lenhardt, Hydro 74, and Jamie Lynn.
Explain the Asymbol partnership with Red Bull to support the new film McConkey.
The new McConkey movie from Red Bull is a pretty heavy film. I was just in Tahoe for the premiere and having 4,000 of his friends there for the debut was amazing. They wanted to tour a small photo show for the movie, which has over twenty stops. They asked us to create and curate the show with all proceeds from it going to Shane’s family and foundation. We have a lot of experience and we were happy to help with it.
Asymbol has also collaborated with Union to release a limited edition binding based on your signature Atlas Chassis. How did this project come together?
Asymbol and Union have a lot of respect for each other. Every year, Union Custom House does a few amazing collab projects with awesome partners such as Airblaster, Cobra Dogs, and PBR, just to name a few. My first pro model binding, the Atlas, came out this fall so we wanted to create an exclusive Asymbol model and hijacked the entire binding design. The new features that I helped evolve were a smaller, more comfortable toe strap and a new aluminum heelcup that flushes up against the highback to reduce drag while turning on your heel edge. I also had subtle cants added to the bottom for better ankle-knee alignment and it has the more comfortable ankle strap that Gigi Rüf helped develop.
When and where can people find these bindings?
They will be exclusively available on asymbolgallery.com and very select core shops. There are not very many though and they’ll be sold out rather fast, I believe, so if you need some graphic empowerment this winter, don’t procrastinate on this one.
What do you find the most interesting part of the binding design process when you travel to the Union headquarters in Italy?
After weeklong trips the last two years to the factory in Italy, I am blown away that making such a high performance binding is even possible for under $300.00. There are so many pieces and parts that go into a single binding and the tooling and foresight needed to run a sustainable business is really interesting. It’s fun working on long lead projects like the Atlas that take years to come to fruition. Big things are going down at Union, so keep your eye out!
Using a binding as a canvas must present a unique set of challenges. Was it easier or harder to execute the Asymbol collaboration than you anticipated?
It ended up being more challenging than we first anticipated. There are a lot of considerations to take in and Parillo and I spent days working on the binding. Mikey is a color palette savant and he ended up painting two pieces for the Atlas highbacks. We were on a Native American kick when we started this one so we saw it through with colors, feathers, and the Inca strap. Packaging was a big initiative for us as well. We wanted a reusable package so nothing was going into the trash. The soft shell brief case is a sweet little bonus that comes along with the binders.
With Ultra Natural taking a two-year hiatus to develop a new venue, is there anything you can leak to us about what we can expect from the new host location or how the event and format will evolve?
In moving forward with the event you can expect an evolution in everything from format to features to presentation. It’s a shame that it isn’t running this season. It just wasn’t in the cards this year, and there certainly wasn’t anything wrong with the course up in Baldface. It will be hard to build a more badass course than the one we built there. I look forward to the challenge though, and with Red Bull, I’m confident that we can pull it off. The event will get better.
Lastly, when can we expect the multi-year follow-up to The Art Of Flight to be released, and which riders will be joining you on your next cinematic journey?
I am excited to say that we are embarking on another journey beginning this season. It has been a long time in the works, Brain Farm and Red Bull are partnering up once again. I wouldn’t kick this off without Mr. [Mark] Landvik on the program. Beyond that, I can just say that some of my favorite riders will be joining us for some of the most challenging shredding we have faced to date. It’s going to be an adventure.
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