We had the good fortune of connecting with Keith Martin and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Keith, every day, we about how much execution matters, but we think ideas matter as well. How did you come up with the idea for your business?
Sometimes the ideas for a business finds you……… Then you get addicted to the idea.
I was a chef for many years and the chance to carve ice had presented itself many times in my young career.
When I was 27, I moved to Breckenridge Colorado to work and persue my passion for the mountain lifestyle.
I was introduced to the art of Snow Sculpting when I was just a small kid. Frankenmuth Michigan is where I grew up and this small Bavarian town held an annual ice and snow sculpture competition. I was to young to compete, but the idea of creating such large masterpieces of temporary art was saturated into my mind.
When I arrived in Breckenridge, across the street from our condo was the area that the world renowned Breckenridge International Snow Sculpting Event took place. I was glued to this event from the moment I layed eyes on it. The massive size along with the emotion provoking creativeness set me into a love affair with this form of art.
It would take a few years……..but I found my way in and have been apart of this Event ever since.
The “addiction” to create this type of art pushed me to find mountain towns and ski resorts that I could convince to go along with my ideas. The hard part was the the convincing.
It has been a long passionate road to success. I created Snice Carvings almost 20 years ago and as I look back…….life just showed me what I was to be doing with my time. I was always in the right place for everything to come together.
I now spend 4 months of the year traveling and carving amazing sculptures. From the world’s largest snowfort on top of a 12,000 foot peak in Keystone Colorado all the way to working with international events in Japan, Italy, Canada and France. I get to live the lifestyle I created.
I get to hang with some awesome artists that I am happy to call my friends. I don’t go to work, I get to go out and play.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I have the best life ever. I am owner of Snice Carvings, a ice and snow carving company that gets to create over the top, mind-blowing sculptures.
For at least 4 months out of every year, I get to do what I love. Working with ski resorts and small mountain towns to create amazing snow and ice sculptures.
The size I work with is awe inspiring. Taking a small scale model and bringing it to life in such a large way is mesmerizing. To create something that evokes emotions and transforms a spectator’s imagination back to a childhood state of mind is the reason for doing. I really enjoy bringing the kid out of people. To watch them transform into a child as they run through The Maze or climb through The Fort is something special. To watch an individual being touched emotionally from the art has and always will be humbling.
Life isn’t the easiest to get through. There are struggles we all go through as we get beaten down with work and bills. I found being creative was what made me happy so that was my focus. I didn’t know how it was going to go, but I was determined to be creative and would inject myself into every artistic opportunity that came my way. From food to construction, I would always focus on the design.
I came from a small farm outside of a small town in Michigan. We worked hard and the word impossible didn’t exist. I was forced to be creative and solve problems. Engeneering, repairing and building have always been second nature to me. I have been able to use these skills in every avenue life.
I was first given the chance to carve a block of ice back in culinary school in 1997. I didn’t know then how much that would influence my life, but now I look back and am forever grateful.
I moved to Breckenridge Colorado a few years after culinary school and was introduced to snow sculpture. The Breckenridge International Snow Sculpting Event took place right across the street from my condo and I had the opportunity to watch every detail as the sculptures transformed from blocks into magnificent creations. The skill and details it took to imagine, design and build was out of this world to me. I was hooked.
It took several years before I was given the opportunity to join a German Team. They had arrived with only 2 carvers and needed help. I was asked if I wanted to and quickly jumped on the opportunity. We carved for 5 days , staying up the whole night for the final push. The transformation before my own eyes of a block into a masterpiece had me addicted.
We won a Bronze medal that year and I was invited to go to Sapporo Japan the following season. I couldn’t believe that this was possible. A small town farm kid being able to see the world through the art of Snow. I remember looking around when I was there and telling myself that this is what I want in life. I set off from that moment with huge dreams.
Those dreams turned into a life of relationships. I injected myself into every opportunity. Meeting other artists and community members that supported my ideas. I found towns and resorts that had budgets that I was able to use. I was recognized for the sculptures I had created and given the opportunity to be a part of the Breckenridge Snow Sculpting Team.
I am now the Captain of the Breckenridge International Snow Sculpting Team and been able to visit several countries while competing in snow and ice. The cultural experiences and friendships are my souvenirs.
I saw an opening for the next level of Snow and Ice Carving while traveling. I began working with ski resorts and mountain towns to create interactive sculptures.
With all this, Snice Carvings was created. Its been a long road of dedication and starving artist syndrome, but I now get to design and build some of the world’s largest snow and ice sculptures. I have fiends from around the world. I get to go to work and love what I do. Everyday I am thankful how life turned out
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I like adventure and want to share a mountain experience with everyone I know.
I would plan to take a backpacking trip across the mountains of Colorado with a unique ride at the end.
As an accomplished hiker, I would plan a trip to traverse a section of the Colorado Trail and hike along the Continental Divide. We would start in the mountains near a place called Lake City and work our way south to my home town of Durango.
This is a section of trail that moves across the mountain tops well above 10,000 feet elevation. The views to the east and west don’t seem to have an end. Sunrise and sunset are like none you have ever seen as wildflowers paint the open meadows with a variety of color and the wildlife seems to be around every corner. Last time I hiked this section, we encountered 7 moose, countless marmot, red fox, eagles, and a bear.
This is my paradise and reconnecting with the outdoors is important. Sharing this experience with others is very rewarding
Hiking this trail would be demanding, take multiple days and at times it would seem the top of the world has been obtained. We would be looking down on all of it. The wonders of nature, abundant
There is a connection as we hike through these mountains. I could point to the distant peaks and tell stories of my previous adventures. Times of climbing, snowboarding and rafting. These mountains are a huge playground that have allowed me to escape.
You can see all the way to Utah and New Mexico from here. The town of Silverton Colorado is just out of site, but I know it’s there. Just to the east of where we are traversing, the headwaters of the mighty Rio Grand River are coming together and off to the west the Colorado River subsidiary creeks are joining to create the Animas. We are standing where it all begins……
The scenery is spectacular but the physical energy put into hiking with a back pack makes the simple meals seam like the best thing you have ever eaten. Mac&cheese, oatmeal and protein bars are the delicacies out here in nature. They are also the lightest to carry.
Sleeping in a tent and listening to the evening slip away can be most peaceful. Exhausted from hiking, fulfilled from all you have seen and amazed by the fact you get to do this for a week. It’s not everyone’s idea of fun, but I couldn’t be happier.
On the last day we would be saying goodbye to the Continental Divide and split off down to the west. The Colorado Trail would take us for a long journey into the Animas valley below. The mining history is thick all around us. We would walk past cabin relics and old shafts. You would even begin to hear the train whistle increase in volume as you drop further from the ridge above.The terrain is steep but stay focus on the journey ahead. It is the best part.
When reaching the valley bed, the Animas river is ragging with rapids along side the majestic rail of the Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. We set down and soak our feet into the riverbank. Our wait for our ride home is only a few hours away. The train will be returning from Silverton on its way to Durango and I will have bought tickets for the ride. We would need to flag down the engineer before loading onto the historic coal fueled puffer belly, but then we could take a seat and rest our backs from a journey like no other. The next few hours give time to reflect on the past couple days.
The train has an amazing route down the valley into Durango. We would be traveling on a full train of tourists eager to hear our story and we would be having the best ride home.
As we pull into the train station our world look is a bit different from when we started. Our need for a shower and a meal pushes us on. Home is just a few minutes and it only seems correct to walk. A large meal cooked from the garden and locally raised meats is the reward to all the hard work put into such a epic vacation.
Sitting in the back yard and sipping on a local whiskey sets the stage to the end of an incredible journey.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My wife….Karin Martin
Well big dreams need support.
My wife doesn’t tell me no you can’t do that. She has always supported my bad ideas and allowed me to follow my passion.
The foundation I built my business on is set by both of us. Allowing me to follow a dream has allowed me to do what I love for a living
Facebook: Keith Martin
The photos I have shared come from projects at Copper Ski Mountain, Keystone Ski Resort and The Breckenridge International Snow Sculpting Event