The Tour de France is now well underway and, in case you hadn’t heard, its first three stages took place in our green and pleasant land. Now that the riders have left us and begun the real journey down through France, we though it was high time we took a look at some of the best Tour-inspired projects to have emerged over the past seven days, because for some reason bikes get the creative community REALLY inspired.
The London Transport Poster
There used to be a time when the London Underground was littered with beautiful, iconic posters encouraging the city’s inhabitants to go out and travel more, exploring not just their city, but the whole of the country surrounding it. Each new poster was a considered work of classic design, and I can only imagine that the walls of the Tube and bus shelters looked incredible. Then they lost the plot for a while and we were forced to look at strange blob-like men and women encouraging us to be nice to each other. Thankfully TfL’s art and design awareness has enjoyed a bit of a renaissance recently with commissions from the likes of McBess and Jean Jullien brightening up our daily commute. This latest Tour de France piece from Adrian Johnson is no exception; an instant classic that I’d be happy to have on my wall at home – even though it is just warning me that my journey will most likely be delayed.
The Tranquil Film of the Dales
I wrote earlier in the week about Andrew Telling’s lovely film for Rapha, but I enjoyed it so much that it seemed only right to include it here again. Now that we’ve all watched the ruthlessly fast pace of the actual race, this slow-moving bit of Sunday cycling offers some respite from the stress of watching Cav and Froome getting battered about.
The Custom Frame Shots
Cannondale are undoubtedly one of the cooler bike brands, producing some of the most aesthetically pleasing road frames ever made. Also cool is Death Spray Custom, a man known for his exceptional paint jobs on motorcycles, hot-rods and anything else you can apply paint to. Bring this two things together and you’re looking at sweet, sweet cycling perfection.
This year the Tour’s Cannondale team commissioned Death Spray to customise each of their rider’s bikes, adding a super-cool twist to some already excellent bikes. To top it all off Dan Wilton went to shoot these men and their machines before they embarked on the first leg of their journey – and the portraits are as lovely as the bikes themselves.
The Reportage Illustration
One of my favourite things about the Tour so far has been Manual For Speed’s unusual coverage of the action. Rather than trying to compete with the live updates you can get from Twitter, Facebook, the telly and any other form of digital media you can find, they’ve commissioned Thomas Slater to create an illustration of the day’s highlights from the perspective of a cycle-obsessed dog called Manuel. “Why?” you ask. Why the hell not!
The Celebrity Commission
Finally, we couldn’t mention the Tour without mentioning Paul Smith. The would-be pro cyclist and designer extraordinaire is passionate about this annual event (he’s got actual bikes from actual racers lying around in his studio) and was undoubtedly mind-blowingly excited when the race came to the UK. To celebrate he put together these three posters for each of the UK legs, which offer a bold typographic alternative to any of the dubious official merchandise. Chapeau!