It's The Show That Never Ends

It's The Show That Never Ends

by Charles Youel August 31, 2015

“I’ve done too many things that I swore I’d never do to say that ARTCRANK will NEVER sell posters via our website.”

I wrote this in an essay titled “Guess You Had To Be There,” posted the last time we did a significant re-launch of the ARTCRANK site in March of 2011.

Our business had outgrown the previous version, and the version before that. But even after four-plus years of staging pop-up bike art shows in a rapidly expanding list of cities, we weren’t ready to answer the most frequently asked of frequently asked questions:

When are you going to sell posters online?

This question first came up at the opening night party for our first-ever show: Saturday, April 7, 2007. It’s safe to say that we’ve been asked that question at least once a week since then. Actually, I just did the math, and that total seems low. Eight figures, minimum. Has to be.

We weren’t ready to answer the question in 2007. We weren’t ready to answer it in 2011. But in 2015, we finally have an answer, and the answer is now. In fact, you’re looking at it.

Other than deciding to make this madcap venture into something resembling a business in the first place, this is easily the biggest decision we’ve ever made.

For eight-plus years, we’ve built a brand and business around pop-up bike poster shows that take place exclusively on terra firma. If you wanted to buy an ARTCRANK poster, you literally had to be there. All of that changes with the launch of this new site, and believe me, it’s not something that we take lightly.

When we committed to making that change, we gave ourselves two simple goals:

One: Stick to selling handmade, bike-inspired posters by independent artists, designers and illustrators.

Two: Capture as much as possible of the limited-time, limited-edition vibe of our live shows as possible in an online commerce environment.

Here's how that’s going to work:
> 30 different handmade, bike-inspired posters.
> Each printed in editions of 30.
> All available for 30 days or until they sell out — whichever comes first.

That’s the way it’s always worked at our shows. If you missed the show, or even if you came late, the poster you wanted most might be gone by the time you got there. You had to be there.

“That’s the way it's always worked at our shows. If you missed the show, or even it you came late, the poster you wanted most might be gone by the time you got there. You had to be there.”

The only difference is that now, you won’t have to be in a specific place on a specific date and time, and there is always as close your laptop, your tablet, or even your phone. Of course, you’ll also be up against everyone else in the world who has one of those devices and a taste for bike art. First come, first served.

Back in 2011, I hand-wrung and brow-furrowed over “the endless pursuit of making things easy,” asking semi-rhetorically and entirely self-importantly, “If you can have everything, all the time, then what makes anything special?”

What makes something special is that it’s imagined, sketched, and labored into being by a brilliant human.

What makes something special is that it’s printed by hand, one color at a time, with all of the subtle nuances and quirks that make it a real work of art.

What makes something special is that each individual poster in an edition has its own unique character, born in the split second when those layers of ink met that sheet of paper to conjure up an act of artistic alchemy that never fails to amaze me, no matter how many times I see it performed.

And what makes this special for ARTCRANK is that now, we get to share that magic with everyone, everywhere, all the time.

Welcome back, my friends
To the show that never ends
We're so glad you could attend
Come inside, come inside

Charles Youel


Also in News

Fall Trail, by Ellen Schofield. A poster created for ARTCRANK MSP 2018.
Every Ride Has An End

by Charles Youel August 27, 2023

Arriving at the decision to sunset ARTCRANK, at least from a business standpoint, was a lot less surprising than the turnout for our first show, at least to me. Of course, I also had 16 years to think about that one. Not in the sense of being fixated on how all of it would end, but in the sense of thinking about how I would define success where ARTCRANK was concerned.

View full article →

And now for something completely different.
And now for something completely different.

by Charles Youel November 25, 2020

We’ve made changes to the way we operate to accommodate the series of new realities we’ve found ourselves in since March. We’ve also had a chance to bear down and focus on some ideas that we’ve had in the works for a long time and just hadn’t had the time to pull off. Our new site is one of them.

View full article →

Bikes get stolen every day. Give yourself a chance to get yours back.
Bikes get stolen every day. Give yourself a chance to get yours back.

by Charles Youel April 18, 2020

Bike theft sucks. Bike thieves suck. Here are four simple steps you can take to help you recover your bike if it ever gets stolen.

View full article →