I’ve been a fan of psychedelic and optical art since my days as a student (many moons ago). I loved how designers like Wes Wilson were able to take the legibility and readability of typography to the outer limits to create something that was more than ‘just’ graphic design. Sure, it’s still informational, but dammit you sometimes have to work hard to make any sense of it. I do wonder, occasionally, if anyone turned up to the gigs being advertised.
The works of artists like Bridget Riley had a similar impact. This wasn’t the Art I recognised from trips to my local museum, but it really resounded with my creative sensibilities as a budding designer.
Fast forward a few years, most of it spent grafting logos and brochures to fairly safe and conservative businesses, where ‘Make the logo bigger’ was the usual marketing mantra, I made the possibly foolhardy decision to go it alone. I had long wanted to created something that combined a love of these two art forms, but not many of my old clients would have countenanced the unreadability. I also wanted to combine this with my passion for all things bike and cycling related. When I’m not designing I can usually be found outside pounding the highways or flying down a mountainside.
The lightbulb moment came when I was trying to work out some routes for my next ride. Zooming into Google Maps it struck me just how similar the flowing contour lines resembled the swirls of a Bridget Riley piece.
It didn’t take long to devlop a theme of ‘Famous Tour de France Climbs’ as a series of posters. Each poster design is developed from the actual contours surrounding each climb, along with the route taken by the Peloton. They also feature the statistics for each route, which is very important seeing as how cyclists just love to measure just about everyting around them.
With this series I wanted to create something far removed from the typical ‘Bike + Mountain’ imagery that features in so much cycling related artwork. Not that I don’t like that sort of work, (i very much do(. It’s just that I’m just not as good as the other artists out there who are illustrating bikes and mountains. I had to create my own niche.
The series is still a work in progress and I am hoping, in the long term, to feature a series of climbs from the other great races like The Giro and Vuelta de España.
Col De Tourmalet
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