For as long as we’ve been doing bike poster shows, our artists have been printing their work on Neenah Paper stocks. For the past three years, we’ve worked with Neenah to offer special discounts to our artists and print partners. This year, we’re trying something new: Commissioning three artists to take “bike art” in a new direction by making bike-inspired sculptures entirely out of paper.
We debuted the first of these — by St. Paul’s Big Table Studio — in Minneapolis. For our fourth annual ARTCRANK San Francisco show, we asked Jaime McFarland and Bobby Parsons to create a work of art that captured the essence of the bicycle using nothing but Neenah Paper.
With an impressive array of paper engineering projects under their collective belt, these Los Angeles-based graphic designers had aims of crafting something truly spectacular with this project.
“To find a conceptual starting point, we went to San Francisco to get an inside look at Bay Area bike culture,” said Parsons. “It was all across the board. From people going to work for white-collar jobs to messengers and people just riding for fun. We wanted to reflect as many of the different cycling cultures as we could with this bike.”
“It started with a sketching process—hand sketches, followed by digital sketches,” said McFarland. “It’s one thing to do a drawing, and quite another to build a structure that can stand up and make sense.”
“You’re making a bike for people who ride bikes, so the audience is discerning about our creation,” Parsons added. “We wanted to make something that made sense”
Looking at process photos that McFarland and Parsons took while they were bringing their creation to life, you can imagine them as the kids who had cinder block-sized boxes of crayons with names like “Wild Blue Yonder” and “Purple Mountain’s Majesty.
“We asked for a ton of different colors of paper…56 to be exact,” says McFarland with a mixture of sheepishness and pride. “We were a little nervous when we sent over the paper order, but Neenah was really supportive. They sent us 12 boxes in three days.”
After nearly 30 hours of scissor handiwork and an untold number of paper cuts, the real fun began.
“I think one of the best things about using paper is that you’re able to make it not look like paper,” said Parsons. “I want people to be surprised at what you can do with paper.”
Over the course of 70 work hours, Parsons and McFarland pushed dimensional boundaries en route to creating a work that’s a stunning combination of colors and textures, conveying a reverence and passion for the bicycle in a way that’s never been seen before.
“We’re looking forward to the reactions,” said McFarland. “Hopefully, people will forget that it’s even paper. Just please don’t step on it!”
We’ll unveil the Paper Bike sculpture by Jaime McFarland and Bobby Parsons at the ARTCRANK San Francisco Opening Night Party on Friday, October 26 at 111 Minna Gallery. The sculpture will be auctioned to benefit San Francisco Bicycle Coalition at the organization’s 17th Annual Winterfest Auction on Sunday, December 2, 2012 at Cityview at the Metreon. Tickets are available at: http://www.sfbike.org/winterfest