When I hear John Lennon's often quoted statement, "I'm an artist, and if you give me a tuba, I'll bring you something out of it," I can't help but relate this message to Peter Line. Peter's iconoclastic approach to snowboarding changed our sport's trajectory in the mid-90s and perhaps no other rider did more to pave the way for film pros to be respected on par with their contest counterparts. From switch spins to myriad corkscrew variations to 180 butter setup tricks to the backside rodeo, Peter showed our sport that the well of progressive creativity could run deeper than simply adding a few degrees to existing spins and labeling it as innovative. Unlike most of his peers, Peter owned every facet of his image and wasn't afraid to take chances, challenge his audience, and get weird. His uncommon curiosity and prodigious creativity led Peter to have a major hand in crafting some of the most iconic products and brands our sport has ever known, including his Division 23 Rainbow and Gwar pro models, Electric goggles, Foursquare Outerwear and most importantly, Forum Snowboards. Though currently not as prolific within the film realm as during his late-90s peak, Pete still continues to be a media mastermind with his Colon column firmly established as the longest running by-line in the history of snowboard magazines. As of late, Peter has also gained recognition as a compelling fashion and lifestyle photographer. With the recent absence of Forum and Foursquare, Peter now has a new outlet for his stylistic influence with DAKINE Outerwear. Here, we catch up with Peter on his recent hire by DAKINE, judging Travis Rice's Ultra Natural, Scott Stevens, and what kind of stuff he likes to put in his Colon.
Can you please say and spell your name?
Peter Line. P-e-t-e-r L-i-n-e.
Tell us a little bit about your background in snowboarding.
I have been snowboarding since the age of 13. I started around '87, '88, when snowboards still had fins and swallow tails. I became a professional in '93 and went on to make some money here and there. I started a couple of companies; one was Foursquare. From the very beginning I was designing the majority of their outerwear until its demise last year.
Had you done any of the development when you had ridden for Swag previously?
Most of my input was saying I didn't like any of the pieces. I would end up wearing a lot of their Prom stuff instead because it had better designs and color.
What was is about the Swag women's line Prom that drew you to that side of the catalog?
I think it was just having riders like Tina Basich and Shannon Dunn actually design the product. The clothing turned out to be aesthetically better. They were a little more in touch with what they needed to sell on the hill and also the fashion styling on-hill as opposed to some guy sitting in the office somewhere in Southern California just kind of guessing. I mean granted, I wouldn't wear the pink stuff…much. But yeah, it was very clean designs in those girls' stuff and I liked it.
Specifically with Foursquare, what was the aesthetic you were looking for?
I'm from the Northwest and the weather up here is pretty much everything that you could imagine; from sunny days to pouring down rain to zero degrees. So I needed outerwear that wouldn't get wet or cold, and it needed to be breathable and whatnot. Basically, I wanted the best quality stuff. So the way we designed Foursquare from the very beginning was to be very technical to compete with the likes of The North Face at the time.
What were some of the technical innovations that you spawned with Foursquare?
I think we were one of the first ones to do the mesh vents with a separate little zipper within the mesh so you could actually open it up and make it even more breathable. I think we stole some of the wrist gaiter stuff from Dub. We definitely jumped on that one really quick and now there are wrist gaiters in most jackets. We were an early adopter of attachable skirts in the jackets and outer skirts in the pants.
Later on, what prompted you to go with more tailored looks with your Foursquare signature pieces?
In the beginning, when designing stuff for Foursquare, there weren't any outerwear companies in the snowboard industry designing clothes that would be functional in the backcountry and have a cutting-edge style too. As soon as people caught on to that kind of look all of the outerwear kind of started looking the same to me. As I got kinda got older my style changed as well. I wanted a little more street style and more dark and drab colors. At that time everyone was wearing these bright, color-blocked colors where I wanted to wear something that I could almost wear on the streets. I wanted a peacoat style jacket or a motorcycle jacket or something like that. It was kind of like when grunge came around. There was all that hair metal and then grunge came around and basically, they were wearing the same thing that they would wear on the streets.
You wanted outerwear that could transcend from the alpine to the après?
Exactly, but make it as functional as anything else out there.
How did your new relationship with DAKINE come together?
It came about with me no longer being with Foursquare 'cause that was shut down. Mark Welsh, who was the snowboard Marketing/Team guy at the time, called me up and asked me if I wanted to work with DAKINE designing some stuff. He soon left and Scotty Conerly took over in that position and got me an interview with Mike, the VP over there. I put together a little presentation for him with some ideas. I guess they liked it and I liked exactly what he was saying.
Over the last few years, which snowboarding brands have created an aesthetic that appeals to you?
Right now, I like all types of styles. Like street style with Holden to some of Burton's AK stuff. There is Denham which I think is out of England that has kinda got some really cool stuff based off of old military garments. Basically, I am into anybody creating new stuff with new features that actually work and aren't just gimmicks.
So what officially is your role with DAKINE?
I am Lead Men's Outerwear Designer, but I don't have a business card yet.
As part of a program still in its infancy, what opportunities do you see for DAKINE as they begin to define themselves with outerwear?
DAKINE has been making outerwear for three seasons now. Up to this point it has kind of had a late-90s ski influence. I am going to be designing for the fourth season, the '15/'16 line. What I am going to bring to it is more snowboarding influence. I wouldn't say cutting-edge but within the trend of where I think snowboarding is going. No bullshit features. No gimmicks. Straight-forward snowboarding wear that is going to work amazing in the backcountry but also look really good. If you are going to buy a four hundred dollar jacket, you should be able to wear it on-hill and off-hill and have it still look sick. DAKINE already makes quality clothing that I am really impressed with and their other products are amazing.
Okay, so how many years have you been producing your Peter's Colon column for us?
Oh, my Colon. What is it? Like 13 or 14 now? I dunno.
Over those 14 years what are you most stoked to have been able to put into your colon?
I like the fact that I can get away with a lot of things. Like some very vulgar entries have been put in there.
As far as trying to get us to censor you it is a game of chicken that you seem to have been losing. Who are some of the current standout riders who you enjoy watching ride?
I am always a big fan of Scott Stevens. His stuff is beyond. You would never be able to think of the things that he does that are so sick. I picture kids getting so influenced from him and then taking it to even bigger stuff than what he is doing now. He is creating a whole different, new way of snowboarding. There are only so many triple corks and quadruple corks you can do but things like taking your foot out, okay, there is an option right there. Like anything you can kinda see small can be done big, it just takes steps to get there.
As a judge at the 2013 Ultra Natural, what were your thoughts on that event?
I think the Ultra Natural is probably the best contest out there. It shows all elements of a rider's overall ability from the backcountry guy to park guy. Mark McMorris actually did really well this year. He can land in pow now so he can actually take his park skills into contests in those ways. There are bigger mountain guys just chucking off those giant tombstone-y kickers. Terje might have won if he hadn't fallen on that giant 360. Almost anybody can compete in those types of contests.
As of late, you have really expanded your interest in photography. What drew you to start shooting photos?
Throughout my snowboarding career whenever someone had to take pictures of me for a portrait or for an interview in a magazine or for whatever, it always turned out to be that I was almost always art directing every shot. I always wanted to make sure what was going to be seen was dictating who I was. I wanted to basically control my image. All I had to do was learn how to take the picture so I could be the creative guy as well as photographer. That same outlook kind of goes with my art as well. Some of my art is kind of good, some is kind of shitty, but I know the process. I like the way that with photography, I can have a vision in my head and try to recreate that in a photo.
Does DAKINE realize your track record of art always winning out over commerce?
I am not sure how much they know about that. So far they have given me lots of freedom with this, but I understand the whole business side of things as well.
Do you think there will ever be another brand that catches lightning in a bottle the way that Forum did during the late 90s?
That's hard to say because at that time, snowboarding was huge but it still had room to grow. Right now, snowboarding is shrinking and skiing is growing but I think it can happen. With any kind of great idea there can be quick adopters to it and if it had a good business plan behind it, it could happen. Who am I to say that it is not going to happen again? I think Forum was great. Everyone got really excited because something new came out that was completely contrary to everyone's conservative reaction to the bad economy in the snowboarding industry at the time. We came in there with some crazy ideas that made snowboarding fresh again.