Rapha is a sportswear and lifestyle brand focused on cycling clothing and accessories. They often organise events for customers and their club members (the RCC). One such event was the Island Challenge, which took place in London, UK in August 2020. I had the pleasure of creating the print given as a reward for those who finished the event. The artwork was also used to promote the event on the RCC members’ app.
The event took place in and around Canary Wharf, area known for its high-rise buildings. Participants had to visit six different checkpoints, learning about the area’s history in the process. Thus exploration and discovery were the main themes mentioned in the project’s brief.
While looking for inspiration, my thoughts went to Jean-Jacques Sempé. He is an amazing artist and cycling enthusiast as well, and has contributed many covers for The New Yorker Magazine (over 100, more than any other contemporary artist). His two artworks below were among my early references.
I explored different routes, focusing either on the rider or on the Canary Wharf area. For one of them, my intention was to capture the sense of scale between the tall buildings and the small rider. The concept really came together once I realised that the stylised buildings could also suggest a labyrinth, playing on the exploration theme.
Once I was satisfied with the sketches, I moved on to drawing each of the routes in Procreate (on an iPad Pro). The final piece looks deceptively simple, but it took many tries to get it to look “right”. The first versions were using correct perspective grids, but they looked too complicated and stiff. Eventually I decided to only loosely follow the grid, relying on my eye and instinct more. You can see the process behind the final piece in the video below, sped up 20 times.
Taking part in the event was a lot of fun, riding together with three of my RCC friends. The last checkpoint was the Rapha pop-up store in Canary Wharf, where each participant could pick up a print (rolled up in a tube small enough to fit in a cycling jersey pocket) and enjoy a well-deserved coffee.
Working with Aleda Fitzpatrick, Rapha Cycling Club & London Marketing Manager. You can find more information about Rapha and the RCC on their website.
One of the ideas that was not used for this project became a series of prints, available in my shop in two different sizes and six colours — have a look.