Specialized Allez Sprint 2018
collaboration : Michael Reeder - intoduction/photo : Gophrette Power - Translation : Halina Torresan
Since 2016, the Californian brand Specialized Bicycle has been the official sponsor of the Red Hook Crit series. The winners of each race return home with a very limited edition of the Langster model following the colors of each edition. On the starting grid they have the "dream team", but where the brand is most noticeable is in the collaborations with artists to whom they give ‘’carte blanche’’ to customize bikes, kits and other accessories. In 2016 and 2017 they worked with their internal designers.
In 2016, the first was McKenzie Sampson, with his urban graphic style declined in positive and negative for Brooklyn. Then for London, it was Jon Takao, with his approach that graphic design is in every aspect of life. Brian “Swiz” Szykowny and his obsession to never stop producing was for Barcelona. For the final in Milan, it was Erik Nohlin. He paid tribute to his favorite Italian artist : Ettore Sottsass. In 2017, it was Dylan Buffington who had the heavy task of customizing the equipment for the season. This edition was a huge success, Specialized produced 300 road bikes with this paint job that sold very fast.
As the idea is to never repeat the same thing twice, in 2018, they reached out to an external artist. It was the Texan Michael Reeder who had the opportunity to affix his art on all of the new team’s equipment. The visual universe of Reeder One combines realistic body parts like halves of faces or hands against a background of repetitive geometrical shapes with very bright colors. The supports he uses are almost all that can be painted. But it’s on walls that he has the most fun. Especially if the surface is out of the ordinary. That, the Montreal Mural Festival understood well by offering Michael the place of honor in the 2018 edition. It was then that I was able to align the stars. Raphaële Lemieux, a member of the Specialized Rocket Espresso team and Michael agreed to play the pose game in front of my camera. All accompanied by a few words from the artist himself.
Over the course of roughly a year, I had the amazing opportunity to collaborate with Specialized Bikes on designing the art for their 2018 Fixed Gear Crit Team. This included the Allez Sprint race bike and full kit. This was the first time I’ve been given the opportunity to put my art on functional products, and there was a significant learning curve that I faced. If it were not for the amazing design team at Specialized, I’m certain that we would not have the bike and kit we have today.
There were numerous design renderings of the bike that I initially created. This was all in an effort to get on the same page with what Specialized was looking for. Not that they were being overly directive, in actuality they were very open with my vision. However, not being a part of the bike scene beforehand did present it’s challenges; I wasn’t necessarily aware of what’s been done before, and what’s seen as redundant or tired, etc. After collectively settling on a design for the bike and kit, a single round of each of the products were created. Although the initial response was great from the internal team, we decided to scrap it all and head back to the drawing board in an attempt to push it further.
This time around we decided to select a painting of mine to base everything off of. This helped to establish the palette, patterns and imagery. The limitations to what can actually be put on the objects was difficult to work around at times, but it did establish some interesting parameters. For instance needing to keep imagery and decals away from welds, and keeping the total number of colors down on some of the products was an engaging challenge.
Another part of the collaboration was an 8ft x 20ft mobile mural that I painted in my studio specifically for the team Red Hook Crit launch party in Red Hook, Brooklyn. That in itself was a literal huge challenge, given time constraints and just the general logistics of creating a mural meant to fit into a crate and install on site. Yet again another first for me.
I can’t say enough about the amazing job that Specialized’s design team did to help make this project a reality. I’m beyond honored and thankful for the opportunity and completely stoked on the overall quality and finish of all of the products and gear. In addition, the entire race team has been unbelievably awesome and supportive of my work both in and outside of the bike world. All of them are living legends and are undeniably inspirational figures for thousands of people of all ages.