Bikes as Art

I’ve been a professional visual artist my entire career, as a designer and illustrator for many years. During those years I was also an adjunct at various universities and art institutes and over a decade ago I legitimized myself as a full time visual art educator. Making art has been an important part of my practices as an educator and I’ve continued to paint and photograph and regularly exhibit. Although I stepped away from the commercial design market in 2001, I will on occasion still accept a commission or two if something in particular piques my interest. And too, I self-initiate design and illustration assignments – an exercise that tends to actually bridge the worlds of visual communication and fine art.

This has been the situation over the past several months: I found several things that interested me all at the same time. First, my ongoing affair with the bicycle, both as a purely functional machine and as an aesthetically beautiful amalgamation, seemed ripe to be explored as a subject. Secondly, my collage work felt as though it had hit a plateau and I wanted to explore other visual aspects that pushed the boundaries of what I’ve been doing over the past few years. Upon reflection, that “push” emerged in the form of a renewed interest in letterforms, textures, colors, and patterns.

I’m easily bored, and I recognize that about myself and my approach to art making. It’s fun to get excited about new ideas and techniques, and vital to me as an artist as well to be able to sustain the thread of a concept throughout a body of work in such a way as to not get stale or simply become a template of itself. My current work is informed by vintage images of bicycles and cyclists in their myriad forms, from racing to touring to leisure pursuits. I’ve also been restructuring historical patterns, including ancient motifs as well as designs from the Modernist, Arts & Crafts, and Deco schools of thought. The color palettes are simply those that most please me at the time and bear little or no relationship to the pattern origin, or to the bike or era portrayed. They are created out of a visceral sense of visual pleasure. Oh well, shoot me for that!

I’ve tried to avoid thinking about these designs from a commercial standpoint, very purposely avoiding to address whether or not they will be marketable at art shows. I’m creating postcards, posters, and a book… an odd dichotomy considering the importance of mechanical and digital processes I utilize. But I’ve been interested for years in that weird place where traditional hand made art and the digital world met, and… well these images are one result of that interest.

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2 thoughts on “Bikes as Art

    • I’d be happy to do something like that, Calvert. I’ve been working on some classic patterns modeled after fabrics like twill and tweed, kind of with the thought of combining some deco lettering and a color palette that is reminiscent of swatches that have been light-faded.

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