Simon Beck creates enormous works of snow art that look like giant wintry crop circles just by walking amidst white mountaintops and cozy ski lodges. Believe it or not, the immense snow patterns are made entirely by foot—Beck creates them while he walks across the terrain in briquette snow shoes. The ephemeral art installations last only until the mountain winds blow them away across the valleys.
Located in the beautiful valley of Savoie, France, Beck’s patterned snow circles decorate the expanses of the frozen lakes outside of the ski runs at Les Arcs ski resort. Overlooking Mont Blanc, the idyllic ski resort is a wonder of natural beauty—enhanced only by Beck’s designs. After each snowfall, Beck designs and redesigns his incredible patterns over and over on the same site.
The designs range from festive snowflakes and trompe l’oeil 3D squares, to starbursts and spirograph patterns. Walking extremely carefully, the artist sometimes spends nine hours at a time laying down the meticulously patterned tracks. Each step must be done perfectly the first time, as the soft snow is unforgiving. When the snow is too shallow, Beck has used shovels to create less detailed patterns, still achieving incredible detail.
Beck is a fan of producing mathematical patterns that have different effects when viewed from various vantage points in the changing light throughout the day. Preferring to achieve the 3D effects, he loves to snap his creations when the sun is at its highest point, causing the most contrast on the designs across the lake.
But creating art work in snow has its downsides: oftentimes Beck is unable to finish a piece due to fresh snowfall, or pieces he worked all day on quickly get covered by overnight snow. The impermanence adds a layer of magic to this extraordinary art form. The beauty is even carried over to the warmer months, when the melting lake snow and ice reveal traces of the patterns that Beck traced during the season’s last snowfall.