When I was growing up I remember coffee table books being just that – enormous tomes nearly as large as the tables they rested on, filled with large, breathtaking photographs. Now that I’ve grown up, these books seem smaller somehow, less special. Which is why I love “The 4th Phase” book so much – it feels as large and untamed as the places it documents in words and images.

Printed for Red Bull Media House by Lithographix, this companion volume to the film “The Fourth Phase” features images shot during snowboarder Travis Rice’s epic four year, 16,000 mile journey across the North Pacific region. Indeed, at a massive 16.5” x 10.2” the book itself is nearly big enough TO USE as a snowboard – a fact that hits you the moment you receive the oversize mailer in which it arrives.

“Travis Rice is not only one of the top snowboard adventurers in the world, he is passionate about art and print,” explains Lithographix’s Brian Campbell. “Travis and the Red Bull Media House team love the permanence and value that fine art printing bring.”

Upon opening the foil-stamped cover you’re treated to dark-on-dark end sheets (printed on Neenah Classic Crest Epic Black), a preview of the moody photography to come.

And let me tell you, that photography is something else. From snow-peaked mountains to frozen lakes, we’re treated to some truly breathtaking sights from the wilds of Wyoming, Alaska and other parts North.

Thanks to the choice of a Smyth sewn, lay-flat binding, you can open this book as wide as possible to drink in those great wide-angle landscapes.

The printing techniques used are as wild as the lands they depict. The book was printed on 100 lb. Sappi McCoy Silk with 4-color process + 2 PMS colors, UV spot gloss, dull varnishes and more. At times this mix can feel a little disorienting, or maybe they only mimic the altitude changes we experience going from mountains to valleys and back again.

“I worked with [designer] Joel Brinson at Noct Bureau to use special varnish, metallic and UV print technologies to highlight and enhance the beautiful photography and images,” says Brian.

And in case that isn’t enough, this gorgeous photo book is accompanied by a 4.5-x-6-inch, 88 page Field Guide featuring recollections of this momentous journey by the photographers who captured those beautiful images.

We weren’t the only ones impressed by this amazing package; it won Lithographix the Sappi North America 2017 Printer of the Year award.

Sappi reports that, according to judge Jim Tenorio – professor emeritus in the Cross-Media Graphics Management Program at University of Wisconsin-Stout – the piece was chosen for a number of reasons.

“The printer did a great job reproducing black and white and full-color images. They matched color and tone across long full-page spreads,” he explained. “It was impressively bound with colored edges and cloth siding that complemented the body of the book. The project used a great combination of format and page size that skyrocketed the impact of the broad, beautiful horizontal and vertical landscape photography that was extensive in the book.”

And what did Lithographix learn from its experience bringing this book to life?

“Keep my quotes higher on the front end as there are always cost overruns during the process,” Brian confides. “And make sure we have enough time! Designers lived at our plant for a week while we retouched photography, completed art and design,” and press checks.

At least they had all those lovely photos of the great outdoors to help them while away the long hours INdoors….