2013 has been the year of the bicycle in New York City, with the city rolling out the country’s largest bike share program and more than 50 miles of new bike lanes. With cycling on the rise in the city, ARTCRANK rolls into town primed to top a 2012 NYC debut that saw a crowd well over 1,000 on opening night.
Born in Minneapolis in 2007 out of a love for bicycles and design, ARTCRANK now hosts poster parties for bike people in a dozen different US cities, as well as across the pond in Paris, London and Manchester. From the onset, the show’s formula has been simple: Throw a party with affordable posters designed by talented local artists, celebrating bicycles and the people who ride them. Add beer from Widmer Brothers Brewing and a worthy local non-profit to raise money for, and you’ve got good times all-around.
The 2013 NYC show takes place Thursday, September 26 and Friday, September 27 at Bicycle Habitat in SoHo, featuring handmade, bike-inspired posters by 30 local artists. Limited edition prints of each poster will be available for $40 each.
The artist roster showcases a spread of New York design talent, ranging from Greg Ugalde, a bike messenger and illustrator known for creating iconic posters for the Monster Track alleycat race, to designer and letterer Jillian Adel, whose work is regularly seen on posters for Broadway productions.
We caught up with Ugalde, an icon of NYC bike culture, for a closer look at how his day job dodging cars and making deliveries translates into design inspiration:
ARTCRANK: How long have you been a bike messenger?
Greg Ugalde: I’ve been a bike messenger for 13 years straight. Every day is long and tough to conquer, but you look back and it went by like a flash. I hope I have the stamina and luck to do at least 30 more years of this. I don’t plan on being a messenger forever, just until I die.
AC: How long have you been a designer?
GU: I took up drawing when I was about eight or nine years old. I’ve never been a professional artist or designer– I prefer to think of myself as a folk artist or just an outsider artist. I make art to kill time and enjoy myself. I found a niche and came to enjoy having an audience in the bike community that appreciated my artwork. I expected more hate and criticism, but people were really kind.
AC: Could you elaborate on how your two passions intertwine?
GU: Luckily, I’m not dependent on selling my artwork. The money I make is nothing compared to riding commercially. I wouldn’t starve living off the art, but that’s only because they serve meals to homeless people in churches. Kidding–it’s not so bad. I have the pleasure of being able to dedicate all my creative energy on the life I’m actually living. For me, one of the benefits of creating art is psychological–a way to communicate and express emotions. It lets you work things out in your head, make sense of things, that kind of stuff. You won’t really get that if you’re doing a commission for some bullshit. If somebody asks me for something it’s always bike-related. Perfect symbiosis
AC: What makes ARTCRANK unique, compared to other poster shows you’ve taken part in?
GU: I liked it as soon as I heard about it. Bikers come out for this–art-loving bikers and bike-loving artists. Here’s your chance to blow ’em away, let’s see what you can do.
AC: What was the inspiration behind the design of your poster?
GU: The concept behind ‘Riding For Life’ is bicycling as a way of life. Being dependent on two wheels to survive. It’s about grace under pressure and the bliss that comes from handling it, knowing you’ll be good for another day, if you can just ride through it. It’s about riding in the zone, totally aware, reflexes sharp, feeling the danger of doing your little money-making trick with no safety net, riding for life.
The 2013 NYC ARTCRANK show takes place Thursday, September 26 and Friday, September 27 at Bicycle Habitat in SoHo, featuring handmade, bike-inspired posters by 30 local artists. Limited edition prints of each poster will be available for $40 each.