Gattoni’s bicycle art

Illustrator Ugo Gattoni has teamed up with UK retailer Starley to turn a plain white bicycle into a work of art.

Illustrator Ugo Gattoni has teamed up with UK retailer Starley to turn a plain white bicycle into a work of art.

Using a handful of black marker pens, Gattoni has decorated the bike frame with doodles of palm trees, tigers and sunny skies, as well as the round-headed figures that first appeared in his  large scale portrait series for the Museum of London’s London Cycles display.

An avid cycling fan, Paris-based Gattoni also created Bicycle (below) – a concertina book of bike-themed illustrators for Nobrow Press published to mark the 2012 London Olympics. The illustrations follow commuters, bankers, athletes and other London residents on a race through the streets of the capital, and you can read our blog post on it here.

“I first spoke to Gattoni a year or so ago, when he published Bicycle – we had one of his prints on display at our factory show room and it attracted a lot of attention,” says Starley marketing manager Nick Fountain. “We thought it would be great to give him a frame to draw on, so we had one made up and painted white; and Gattoni worked on it for a few weeks in between projects,”

The bike will be auctioned to raise money for charity in September, but Starley plans to work with more illustrators and designers on one-off custom frames, partly to promote its bespoke frame design service “and because we strongly believe that a bicycle should be a work of art,” says Fountain.

Starley has been selling bikes for around three years – its in-house graphic design team has created frame artwork for clients including Liverpool Football Club and the Royal Air Force and is now targeting consumers as well as corporate clients.

“It works a lot like any graphic design brief – the client presents some rough ideas and we’ll put together some concepts, design some drafts on Illustrator and present them for review – the whole process usually takes around two to four weeks,” he says.

Designs aren’t always to Starley’s tastes – “but it’s about what the customer wants,” says Fountain. “We’re seeing more and more customers who want a bike with a personal touch – one that’s unusual and an investment. We’re not the first people to offer a custom service, but we’re one of the most affordable,” he says.

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