It’s all about the bike, or so people say. We spend a lot of time yearning over pieces of carbon or comparing our steeds on Facebook when we should be working on something a little more constructive. But cycling has always been about more than just the bike.
Since the first bone shakers rolled out of Michaux in 1867, cycling has been the motivator of a culture all of its own. The communities which have grown up around the sport, the fashion and famous faces. Cycling today is just as much about the coffee shops decorated with team chapeaus and photographs along popular training routes, as it is the bike. But with the growth of the sport in recent years, the culture of cycling has in turn exploded. One figure very much on the crest of this movement is Richard Mitchelson, an artist and illustrator who has been successful in bringing his talent to the cycling world, and in doing so, marry the two into a career rooted in the cycling lifestyle.
Already becoming a piece of iconic cycling design, Rich worked with Rouler Magazine to produce a series of portraits for team sky in 2010. As Sky’s success built towards Wiggins’ Tour de France win in 2012, Richard Mitchelson’s designs formed the centre point of their team merchandise.
Richard Mitchelson, Team Sky Character Designs
The very clean and simple style of the illustrations has seen them picked up in some surprising places. Japan hasn’t been a nation particularly associated with cycling beyond the practical, but with Mayuko Hagiwara becoming the first Japanese cyclist to win a stage at the Giro Rosa this year, they are clearly stepping up their game. With Japan’s immaculately maintained infrastructure and stunningly beautiful mountains it’s a wonder it’s taken this long, but European cycling seems to have entered the popular culture. Rich was contacted last year by Japanese animation studio Khara about using his Wiggo portrait in a short film called ‘Hill Climb Girl’.
Richard Mitchelson, ‘Wiggo’
Originally from the Cycling Heartlands of Yorkshire, Richard Mitchelson in now based in the South Downs just outside of Brighton. Whether the location reflects a desire to be near good cycling is hard to tell, but from this base, Richard worked for various animation and design brands before beginning a relationship with Rouler Magazine, producing artwork based on commercial artwork of the 1950’s. From this relationship, Richard Mitchelson gained his introduction to Team Sky, which has in turn lead to projects commissioned by Oakley, Mark Cavendish, Howies, and Chris Froome.
During the formation of Yellow Jersey Cycle Insurance, we were working hard to bring together an identity for our brand, something people could recognise and relate too. We are proud of our product and the way in which we manage it, but insurance has never been a particularly sexy subject.
Richard Mitchelson seemed like the only sensible option to help us, and we were delighted after approaching him that he agreed to produce an animation for us. Bringing his own brand of clean, simple design to Yellow Jersey, Richard Mitchelson created a character named YJ, bringing a life and personality to the brand.
Richard Mitchelson, Yellow Jersey Cycle Insurance animation
Speaking about his character; “Road, track, MTB and CX, he’s got them all and races as much as he can. YJ travels to Majorca with his cycling club each spring to top up his tan and get some decent miles in the legs before the start of the season. He’s 1998th out of 5990 on the Soller climb on Strava…”
Having spent the last few years working with cycling print and display company Drops, Richard Mitchelson will be exhibiting with them at this week’s Cycle Show at the NEC in Birmingham (stand H41). It is confirmed that we will see a return of the giant colouring wall, a highlight from the London Cycle Show, and worth a stop off if you are visiting.