Artist Profile: Scott Lenhardt’s beautiful, strange and bizarre world of art
Originally featured in Snowboard Magazine 11.2: The Transcendent Issue
“Scott’s an incredible creative and talent. His attention to detail from large to incredibly small scale is awesome. I’ve always been amazed by the beautiful, strange and bizarre that comes from within him and the subtle or loud ways he expresses those visions — tiny garden figures to giant beasts, pet portraits to swamp monsters. The portrait he did of my old dog Jasper is among my most cherished possessions.” – Rick Levinson, Photographer
Were you born an artist?
I guess I was born with a lot of time on my hands. My dad had a body shop when I was a kid. I’d watch him paint flames on cars and helmets and he would take me to custom car shows. I was really into the airbrushed murals on the vans. My mom also went through a painting phase and I remember watching her and wanting to try. I’m from a small town and there wasn’t a whole lot to do, and I was never into school sports. I spent a lot of time in my room listening to Jane’s Addiction and drawing.
How have you cultivated such versatility while retaining a distinct style in your work?
Growing up I had a lizard that changed color. I thought that was cool and wanted to be able to do that. At a young age, I was making things for other people and that had a lot to do with me experimenting. Working with Burton meant changing things up in order to keep it fresh. I had to shift styles from year to year but still hold on to a certain standard. It’s good to throw a wrench into your process once in a while, but you will usually go back to some old moves.
Ross Powers’ board graphics were my introduction to your work. At the Baker Banked Slalom last winter, you mentioned you were close to your 50th board graphic for Burton. Did you hit 50 yet? And what are your favorite board graphics you’ve created?
I got to 50 last year and that feels pretty awesome. I’m so grateful to have had Burton in my life. For most of my college years making artwork for Burton was my summer job. They gave me opportunities and support early on that allowed me to concentrate on developing my craft, and I’ve met so many dear friends in the process. The boards for Ross were some of the most fun project experiences I’ve had and some of the best work I’ve done. We had a lot of freedom with those. I stole the idea of using the graphics to tell a story from the Santa Cruz Roskopp skateboards done by Jim Phillips. I figured that after the second one, the bat carrying the severed mutant head eating the board from the year before, my chances of a third one were a lock. I ended up doing six graphics for him and the fourth one, the Four Horsemen of the Apocolympics, is my favorite. The horsemen represent the previous year’s graphic, with the Grim Reaper as the fourth wearing Ross’ gold medal. I figured since he won the Olympics his career was basically over, hence the Reaper.
The Burton Dragon series was a standout with its dark creatures. Can you talk about how these dark beings came to life?
At the time I was renting out the second floor of Sherman’s Store in Rupert, Vermont. It was an enormous space that hadn’t been used in 50 years and it got really quiet and scary at night. The power went out for over a week and I did a lot of those by candlelight. That was the perfect subject matter to work with in that situation.
Your acrylic on paper snowboard series is a personal favorite and has a timeless feel. What was the inspiration behind this collection?
I was thinking about the illustrated covers of the New Yorker and trying to tell a story in a simple way. There are three of them and each has a slightly different style and feel. The Bench was a favorite because a lot of people have been there in the woods at Stowe. There’s something so beautiful about being in the middle of the woods on a mountain in the thick of winter. I don’t think I would ever find myself in those peaceful situations if snowboarding didn’t exist.