James Niehues’ new ski book captures Colorado trail maps through detailed art | VailDaily.com

James Niehues’ new ski book captures Colorado trail maps through detailed art

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James Niehues' aesthetic has defined the look of ski trail map art for more than 30 years.
Special to the Daily

There’s a new ski book in town.

On Oct. 1, artist James Niehues will release “The Man Behind the Maps: Legendary Ski Artist James Niehues,” a coffee-table book that showcases more than 200 iconic ski resort trail maps. Niehues, a legend in the ski/snowboard industry who still paints nearly every trail map used today, hand-painted all the art.

The book has been a lifelong dream of Niehues. For the book, he brought together numerous influential skiers and industry veterans to add engaging content to his’ visual masterpieces. With a foreword by Vail’s own extreme skiing legend Chris Davenport, “The Man Behind the Maps” showcases Niehues’ unique techniques and painting process as he brings each mountain to life.

The roster of resorts spans the entire spectrum of the industry, from iconic ski destinations to smaller mom-and-pop peaks. Launched by loyal fans via a highly successful Kickstarter campaign, “The Man Behind the Maps” represents the culmination of Niehues’ life’s work.

“I’m truly honored and humbled to see my life’s work collected in such a beautiful, intimate book. When I first began painting trail maps more than 30 years ago, I had no idea that I could make such an impression on an entire industry.”James Niehuestrail map artist

Nieheus is perhaps the most established mountain guide in winter-sports history and one of the most widely viewed artists of the 21st century. For more than 30 years, he has helped countless skiers and snowboarders navigate the snow-covered slopes of resorts across five continents. His handpainted maps have inspired generations and can be found neatly folded in mountain explorers’ pockets around the world.His style relies on detail, and everything he paints is based on extensive research, aerial photography and on-mountain exploration.

“I’m truly honored and humbled to see my life’s work collected in such a beautiful, intimate book,” Niehues said in a press release. “When I first began painting trail maps more than 30 years ago, I had no idea that I could make such an impression on an entire industry. This whole thing, my recent nomination to the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame and realization of this new book, it’s just hard to put my gratitude into words.”

The book itself makes an immediate impression, as its slightly oversized dimensions (12-by-11.5-by-1.25 inches) make it easy to become enveloped in its illustrations. Every detail was taken into consideration during the production process: Italian art-quality printing, heavier weight matte coated paper, lay-flat binding and a beautifully debossed title on both the cover and spine. Clocking in at 292 pages, the book showcases a pencil sketch of Big Sky, Montana, on the cover with matte anti-scratch protection. Each book is individually shrink-wrapped and shipped in a custom box.

The book sells for $90 and is available now on Niehues’s website at jamesniehues.com.