Art and the Bicycle

Even though the bicycle hasn’t been with us for very long, relatively speaking, it has become ingrained in our culture. Maybe not to the extent that it has become in Europe but still enough that there is a fierce love for one’s bike that is sometimes hard to explain but easy to understand…to other bicyclists anyway. I came across some artwork on the Internet that spoke to that fierce love. I’ve always loved to draw and I love bikes but I never thought to put the two of them together like this.

Out of all the bikes on his blog, this mountain biker’s favorite is this one.
Drawing courtesy of Garrett Olsen

Garrett Olsen, father of four, has worked for cabelas for the past 16 years. I first came across this Nebraska native’s work on Chain Reaction Hub and was just fascinated by the simplicity but also the great attention to detail. I was even more blown away by the wheels, just coffee rings. Why hasn’t anyone thought of this before…freakin’ coffee rings…brilliant! Coffee and bikes just go together like peanut butter and jelly. I mean as simple as that slight nuance is, it really takes a drawing like this to another level.

Self Portrait…Garrett and his Redline Monocog
Photo Courtesy of  Garrett Olsen

I wanted to know a little more about his work so I contacted him through facebook and he was nice enough to answer a few questions for me.

Q: First thing I know everyone wants to know…what kind of coffee do you use? Also is it with or without caffeine?

Instant…would have never guessed. The secret is out Garrett!
Photo courtesy of Garrett Olsen

A: They’re mixed. The first few were regular coffee. When I finally started painting on actual watercolor paper I moved to instant. Instant gives a darker ring.

Q: What’s you’re favorite kind of bike?

A: I really like all bikes. I have a singlespeed commuter that I love dearly. I do however have a geared adventure bike that really like also. Not to mention I have a bunch of other bikes that I really like too. I also have all three tire sizes.

Q: If you’re like me, you’ve been drawing since you were little but how long have you been doing this type of work?

A: I’ve been sketching cars and what not for years. I’ve been doing the coffee stained bikes for the last four years or so.

Q: What kind of riding do you typically do?

A: Most typical riding is commuting, funnest riding is mountain biking.

Q: Ever thought of using any other beverages as paint?

A: I have. I’ve had Oskar Blue’s ask about a beer stained bike.

Q: Where do you prefer to work? Do you have a space dedicated or do you work where ever you can find a flat surface?

Just another day at the office.
Photo courtesy of Garrett Olsen

A:The first few I did were at my desk at work during our down time. Lately I’ve been doing them at my house. Even though it’s just about time for them to slow down. When the hours in the afternoon get long it’s hard to put brush to paper and not go for a ride.

Q: I’ve looked through all the pictures on your blog and even though I am a mountain biker at heart, the drawing of the Surly Long Haul Trucker is my favorite. The detail and water color is amazing! Do you have a favorite piece?

A: I do. The Retrotec that I did in orange. Love that bike.

Q: Do you have any advice for someone, and by someone I mean me, looking to start drawing bikes of their own?

A: Don’t stop. Just keep drawing. Keep going till you’ve reached your peak.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about what you do?

A: I’m just a rider like everyone else. Each one of us is special in their own rights.

One of Garrett’s favorite pieces, a mountain bike by Retrotec…my second favorite.
Drawing courtesy of Garrett Olsen

Garrett says, “The coffee cup stains are the basis for a lot of my paintings. I just happened to have a paper with a pair of stains on it so I sketched a bike in them and the idea was born. I sketched and painted this one off of a old Gary Fisher ad. I thought due to the age of the bike the FULL coffee color lent itself really well. If your looking for a accurate color name it’s Folgers instant.”

Drawing Courtesy of Garrett Olsen

Garrett’s just a regular guy who loves to ride and draw bikes. A regular guy who thinks outside the box and that’s what I love about art…no boundaries. You may or may not like it but anything goes. Kind of like mountain biking. I’d think I am going to start drawing bikes of my own, coffee ring wheels and all. I hope to one day draw and paint like Garrett. Probably not exactly the same way but close I hope.

If any of our readers have an artistic side and like to draw or paint we’d love to know. Maybe even share some of your work with us. Here’s mine…

I’ve always loved Penny Farthings so I thought what the heck

Okay I am certainly not in the same league as Garrett but that’s okay. I just enjoy doing it. And sorry, I didn’t have any coffee available because I was painting with the kids and all they had available was black water color. I think I pulled it out though.

Be sure to check out Garrett’s blog for lots more coffee wheeled bikes. Also if you’d like to have some of his art for your own check out his Society 6 page.
I’ll leave you with this little video Garrett put together to see the whole process from start to finish. Thanks for being an inspiration Garrett!

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