YES x Joe Wardwell ski

Joe Wardwell is a well decorated artist based in Jamaica Plain, Ma. Joe has been commissioned for large wall murals, exhibited art in the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Decordova Sculpture Park and Museum, as well as solo exhibits all over the country. 

Joe teamed up with Parlor to design a pair of skis for YES Boston, a private, nonprofit organization which provides affordable and impactful sports-based youth development and leadership programming for Boston children and teens. The artwork is available on any of our custom skis and 20% of the proceeds go to YES Boston. The skis can be purchased here


We caught up with Joe to see what inspired him to create this pair of skis. 

1. What gave you the idea to design a pair of skis?

In the past, I was pretty much an easel painter.  Meaning I couldn't really imagine doing a project like this.  But since the mural at MASSMoCA was commissioned in 2017, I have had to do more and more design work to plan out large scale projects.  Giving me the ability to think about projects that are across various platforms such as this. 

Standing in lift lines, I am always drawn to the more visually dense designs on skis.  I love skiers that like a loud poppy design to carry them down a hill.  I think my wife and I were at Killington one beautiful spring day and there was a ski company with great designs and I loved them.  l think I said to my wife, "Super cool but I could do a ski waaaayyyy cooler than those!"

And of course she said "then do it!"

2. What was it like designing a top sheet for the first time, what was easy, what was hard?

I guess the hardest part of designing a top sheet was, since all my work includes text, figuring out how legible to make the design across the two skis.  Do I make the design smaller so the text is clear?  Or do I go for a more intense design that is harder to read but visually more dynamic on an abstract level.  I opted for the second.  One really cool thing about designing the top sheet, since all my work includes landscape as well as text, it was awesome to use imagery from skiing the trees at Jay's Peak as the background landscape.  I wanted to keep the landscape viewpoint at a skier's eye level.  Looking down not at the horizon.

3. What is your first skiing memory?

First ski memory? my gloves freezing to a rope tow.  Just like everyone my age.  But seriously, I grew up out west and the closest ski resort to my hometown was the now defunct North South ski basin.  Great name.  Out of the blue, I remember my dad decided we were all going to start skiing one year.  I think I was about 10 or 11.  We all sucked but I remember we had such a blast that we just kept going and going.  

4. What is your most epic ski day?

As my buddies at Blue Hills say "any day on skis is never a day wasted!"  So I love them all, but had a great day last Feb with our ski family buddies at Mont Sutton in Quebec.  8" of fresh powder and still snowing when we got on the hill.  The day gave way to bright sunshine and we were all over the hill, both families skiing at their best!  In the trees and carving up the pistes!


5. What do you love about creating art?

I have always made art so somethings I love about it and some things I hate.  I am in the studio pretty much everyday and there are good days and bad days.  That said, I am especially psyched with where my work has been going in the last five years and the ability to work in large formats such as the MASSMoCA mural and the ability to do things like the Parlor partnership and make something that most artists of my ilk couldn't.  I love that my work includes such a range of subject and imagery and has its' own unique visual pop or dazzle.  I love making images that the first reaction is usually "wow!" 

6. Why did you choose YES as a partner?

I think the YES ski program is amazing and know tons of families whose kids have been able to learn to ski because of that program.  I think Boston is uniquely situated with a number of mountains nearby that a program like YES can really facilitate greater access and inclusion to skiing for kids.  First off, I think it is essential that we all work to do our part to increase participation in something that is such a blast as skiing.  Second, I think that with increased climate change effecting us every year, the more winter enthusiasts out there the better.  We all benefit from more people from more backgrounds up on the hill!

7. What have you liked/disliked about working with Parlor?

Parlor is amazing!  Nothing like agreeing to a partnership, visiting the shop, and feeling right at home!  Super cool folks!  They are going to have a tough time getting rid of me at this point.  They are so jazzed about the skis and the designs! 

8. What is your favorite aprés beverage?

I like everything but am convinced that a good New England style IPA tastes totally different after a long day of skiing!  Especially if there is a fire nearby!  Or after spring skiing and sitting in the sun!  Best taste in the world to me!