Art Talk: Sheryl Chapman

What separates a good bicycle race/ride from a mediocre one? Some may say that it is the event itself. The snacks available on the start line (never) or the camaraderie that exudes from man and woman as they race toward the finish line (almost never). Yet, others still say that the quality of an event comes from the promoters themselves. And while that is mostly true, we all know that it is It is the race flier that holds the key to making a bicycle event awesome.
Think about it, the racing action could be awesome from year to year, but it is going to be the front facing design of the poster that brings the people together. Turns their heads and makes them cry tears of joy at the mere thought of spending $15 - $250 to participate. Just take a look at the upcoming Vancouver Criterium - enticing even without knowing that the course itself is riddled with potholes. But, don't look too forlornly at it, because that's not really the point, this Vancouver Crit is actually really fun and I'm going to do it myself. The point is that you need to draw people in with whatever you can.

The other thing that is happening this weekend in Portland is the 2013 Chris King Gourmet Century. You will notice, as you peruse the fine artwork used to promote this event, that there is a certain amount of flair emanating from each. There has been a distinct style to the posters of the GC for the past couple of years now - or ever since I've been aware of it. Which must be the exact reason why it sells out in a manner of minutes each year.  

Side Note: The Bull that Sheryl designed was my first experience with the Gourmet Century as I had just moved to Portland and this iconic display was everywhere in the city. See all the posters » here.

I had a chance to catch up with Sheryl Chapman, the woman who has designed all of the GC posters - at her Santa Rosa home last month after the Tour of California had wrapped. Now, I'm not going to lie, she has a pretty sweet gig going down there and it shows in the relaxed and creative artwork that she creates.
We used the portrait, with her fantastic dog Rex on the Rapha Survey blog » Tough Cookies. I'm not exactly sure why they chose that title to accompany, but then again, I'm not sure about a lot of things. When we rolled up to Cheryl's house, where her and her husband Scot Nicol live, the light was rolling its way over their walls and through their lush backyard. 

I am always wary when visiting new people in their homes (who isn't? if you are not, you should be) but the welcome that Julie and I received here was more than you could hope for from your own family. Beers turned into dinner and when the daunting task of starting the drive from Santa Rosa to Portland in the middle of the night proved to be too much they convinced us that the spare room was made up just for such occasions.

Looking back through these pages it is not difficult to see that everything tends to be bicycle related when it comes to photos or appeal. But, that needs to change people! Not really, but I was proud of how this portrait turned out and some of the photos that ensued in the process. Really, it was more the light than me, I just point the thing and push the button.

We heard stories of Jacques Anquetil's daughter (or niece) and her hidden restaurant. The shape of enduro racing to come (it's all about the French ladies) and a tidbit here and there about the local wineries and what they were producing. Possibly there was a Burning Man story thrown in there as well. We also got to hear about about the design process that goes into her artwork - though admittedly not enough - and see some of her creations outside of the bike world for clothing company Neve Designs and more than a few of the wine labels produced were sporting her illustrations.

But, here's the thing that happened. After we returned from our adventure I was going through some of my #bidonsnotbottles and recognized the logo on the Levi's Gran Fondo ones. I guess that makes sense, because he's from Santa Rosa and she's from Santa Rosa (and pretty much all the cool people are from Santa Rosa - ahem - Sycips). But, it didn't end there. While looking through her site I came across ROLLO. Now, if you worked at a bike shop through the Bianchi era of Rollo, you will know exactly what I'm talking about. That bobbly little character that came on all those mint green (celeste, I know) city bikes that they were producing at the time. The real question was, where had I seen it before? (See above). From there my mind quickly sprang to the "chick designed" logo that represented everything Sky Yaeger had put together while working with them. That's when it all pretty much made sense and my mind was officially blown.

Wasn't there also a dominatrix one that was on all the single speeds? Could it be?

This is the thing about event posters and fliers that I was getting at (I think). That the good ones have the ability to embed elements of themselves in your conscious and lie in wait for when the moment is right. It is also why Sheryl's print sold out in a few brief minutes.