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I was appalled by the existing ski designs back then, which were either faux-skateboarding urban graphics or stuff that looked like the livery for a racing motorcycle. I thought the surface of a ski was very challenging, as narrow as a chopstick, unlike skateboards and snowboards which have basically the shape of a canvas or a screen, so I tried to design a ski I would want to ride.
Yorgo Tloupas

As the son of an artist, your idea of what is normal may be a little skewed. Yorgo Tloupas grew up in Paris, the son of Greek abstract sculptor Philolaos Tloupas, who built large-scale stainless-steel sculptures and much of his own environment as well. “He drew and built the house I grew up in, and designed most of the furniture inside, from the chairs to my wooden rocking horse,” says Yorgo. “It felt completely normal for most of my youth, and I only realized later that it was a pretty unusual upbringing. I would say to my friends, ‘How come your house looks the same as your neighbor’s?’ To me, the norm was a brutalist concrete home, with angular furniture, huge windows, and no curtains.” 

From a young age, Yorgo was encouraged to think creatively and pursue the arts. His parents were windsurfers and Yorgo followed in step. He would skateboard around Paris, and he learned to windsurf while in Greece during the summers. He got his first windsurf board when he was 6. “From that point on, I never got into regular team sports, as all I wanted was to glide on stuff,” Yorgo recalls.

When snowboarding made its way to Europe in the mid 1980s, he read about it in magazines and bought one of the first snowboards sold on European markets. He competed in snowboarding events in his late teens, first doing slalom races, then big air contests, and attending camps in Verbier and Les Diablerets in Switzerland.  

He attended art school and for his end-of-school diploma in 1996, he decided to create a mock snowboard brand, which he called Orange, and he asked Jean Carl Carpano, a pioneer of the French snowboarding scene and then the head of Rossignol Snowboards, if he could print a couple of boards in the factory for his art school project. Carpano said yes and also asked if Yorgo would create that imaginary range of snowboards and a new logo for Rossignol instead of a fantasy brand. Rossignol ended up buying the whole project—and that became Yorgo’s first paid job as a designer. “Suffice it to say my mind was blown, and to this day I consider that as the springboard for my entire professional life,” he says.

Yorgo eventually worked as the art director for magazines like GQ France, Libération, Vanity Fair France, and he launched his own magazine, Intersection, as well as his own design house, Yorgo & Co.

In 2006, his friend Camille Jaccoux asked Yorgo to help him come up with a logo for the new ski company he was starting. It was called Black Crows. “Camille mentioned the sense of a tight-knit community of freeskiers, he told me the name of the brand, and it seemed obvious to me that I needed to draw a simplified flock of birds, in a shape as pointy as a mountain, which I also wanted to be reminiscent of the menacing silhouette of a F-117 stealth fighter plane,” Yorgo says. “From that extremely basic shape, the chevron, I built the entire identity of the brand in a very organic and unplanned manner at first.” 

Yorgo now serves as a co-owner and art director of Black Crows, a brand that’s built its existence off that simple chevron pattern. The logo has evolved over the years, but the chevron is still there, split into lines and morphed to help tell the skis’ larger story. “The industry was slowly starting to use our visual codes of repetitive patterns and reduced color palettes. I just wanted something striking, which would at the same time help us clearly differentiate our ranges,” Yorgo says. “The resort skis have very thin, sharp, and refined lines, the big mountain skis have bold, assertive, and brutal lines, and the all-terrain ones sit in between. It’s like a system to help the customers understand immediately what kind of conditions the skis are geared toward.”

To check out more of Yorgo’s personal work, find him on Instagram @yorgoandco
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