We spent a good couple of years developing the Edit v3 - much longer than we originally planned for - mostly because we kept finding new ways to improve the design. The result was a fully comprehensive redesign and what is in effect a brand new bike. But when all the dust had settled and we'd signed off on the final prototypes, the challenge for the launch was obvious: at a glance it looked a lot like the old bike. The differences are subtle, but significant.
That realisation was a bit galling at first, but as is so often the case, something that initially looked like a problem turned into an opportunity and the idea for a launch campaign started to grow: we had to show everyone we'd gone back to the drawing board and what better way to do that than to show the new bike coming to life, stage by stage, from an initial sketch to the finished article. A kind of fast-forward version of our own two-year quest to build a new bike. We released the sketches in 5 stages, each a few days apart, but you can see the whole sequence in this video:
Creativity is one of our core values at Airdrop Bikes. It's something we try to inject into everything we do, so once the idea for the launch was nailed down we felt comfortable that we could pull it off. As part of the development process we use sketching so we had something to get us started, but reviewing those sketches we felt that we needed to do better. My own professional background is graphic design and although I was in the game for a dozen years or so, I don't have that professional rendering skill. I'm able to get ideas out on paper no problem, but it's not the sort of work that would really inspire people. So we took the opportunity to get someone in to help, someone who could do a much better job than me.
That's where Carl Ringquist came in. I've been following his work on Instagram for a couple of years now (check him out @callebcn_mtbart) and every time he releases something new I'm blown away by his skill. His renderings of bikes look super-real but once you get close there's evidence there of a traditional method, and his riding illustrations are mind blowing. The level of speed and dynamism he's able to convey is unbelievable.
This is one of the first images Carl created that really caught my attention. A one-off giclee print tribute to Stevie Smith.
I didn't know Carl at all but I sent him a message and pitched the idea of a sketchy bike launch. He sometimes posts up work-in-progress pictures on Instagram so the idea was to take snapshots of a sketch as he went along, and reveal them gradually. I had no idea what he'd think of it or even if he was able to help, but he came back straight away with a tonne of positivity. That was all we needed to hear and sent him a load of source material straight away. There's nothing quite like it when you get a good working relationship with someone super-talented; it's like pushing on an open door. Stuff gets done, and it's always better than you expected.
If you're reading this then you probably caught the Edit v3 launch about a month ago. It went well. Better than expected. We sold out of the March drop of build kits straight away, and we're now selling through April's supply too. At time of writing frames have just arrived and we're busy building out those preorders and Edit v3's are starting to ship. There's no doubt that Carl's illustrations played a big part in that success so while we're busy building, we thought it might be interesting for you all to go behind the drawing board and learn a bit more about Carl and how he works:
Can you tell us a bit about yourself: who you are, where you come from etc?
I'm a 42 year old Swede living in sunny Barcelona.
Is this your day job or a side hustle?
I work as a automotive designer by day, so this is a side hobbie. Definitely more of a night job now that I have two kids!
How did you get into illustrating MTB stuff?
I remember very clearly being blown away by the Life Cycles movie back in 2010. The Matt Hunter sequence in the desert, golden light against the sun...Remember?! Just made me realise the beauty hidden in every instance of this amazing sport. I started to paint acrylics on wood and realised that nobody was really doing mountainbike art seriously, so I went for it.
Tell us a bit about your process: what tools do you use?
I work on a Wacom sketch tablet in Photoshop. I always aim to use the same workflow as if I were using a traditional medium. So using a reference image, I sketch freehand and then work layer by layer until I get where I want to.
How long does it take to complete one of your illustrations?
An image can take anywhere from 5 hours to maybe 20hours plus, depending on detail level and my flow!
Do you have a favourite bike or rider as a subject to draw?
Favourite rider... Anybody with style and commitment really, people attacking the trail tend to have more dynamic body positioning. If I have to choose a couple in Downhill it would be Brendog, Brook MacDonald, Loic Bruni, but there are a lot of great guys and gals these days, no shortage of inspiration... Freeriders - Local man Andreu Lacondeguy is the man haha! Also good looking kit helps for a nice rendering!
What did you think when we asked you to help us out?
I was super happy to be asked to help on the Edit V3 launch, honoured. And learning more about the brand I felt a shared passion to do my best. Thanx Ed!
What have you got planned for the future of @callebcn_mtbart?
I'm lucky to live near a World Cup venue, so I will be in Andorra again this year for the World Cup, gathering reference images. So definitely I'll be focusing on downhill imagery and bikes just like today. Also doing personal commissions is really rewarding as I get to collaborate and hopefully give my customer something special. Also I am working on an important project to me, which is to do with a bike related charity.
If you're into Carl's work, give him a follow on Instagram @callebcn_mtbart.
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