On se sentait pousser des ailes a bicyclette by BT Livermore and Michael Buchino

Bicyclette

Collaboration

BT Livermore is a busy guy. He’s an illustrator, letterer, printer, sign painter, woodworker, moustache wax maker and probably a bunch of stuff I don’t know or have already forgotten.

So when he asked if I wanted to collaborate on a just-for-fun project, I jumped at the opportunity.

We had two beers, and this is what transpired…

Michael Buchino sketches
BT Livermore sketches

What Do We Make?

We sat down, pencils in hand, staring at the blank canvases of our sketch books, looking up just often enough to say “I recognize your existence and I am listening to you.” Talking and drawing, drawing and talking. It’s a dance every illustrator knows.

I had a few questions:

  1. What do we want to make that we haven’t made?
  2. In what style do you want to work?

We both love our bikes. Neither BT nor I have created bike art that pleased us. Easy: let’s do a bike poster.

I was concerned that this piece would end up being just another BT thing or Buchino thing, rather than a BT and Buchino thing. But then we began rattling off artists, genres and decades of our favorite commercial art and design, the way you would talk music on a second date.

The strongest contender emerged quickly: 1960s psychedelic show posters.

Avalon Ballroom December 9–10, 1966, gig poster by Victor Moscoso (left) and John Lennon photograph by Richard Avedon (right)

Bikedelic

From there, inspiration flowed fast. Victor Moscoso created the iconic 1966 Big Brother and the Holding Company poster for the Avalon Ballroom and Richard Avedon photographed The Beatles for Look magazine in 1967 . How fun would it be to give a cyclist bike-wheel eyes?!?

Aaand that was pretty much it. Done.

Except…

What does it say?

I often look to music for inspiration. I love Queen’s “Bicycle Race”, but the era is wrong. I dove into Tomorrow’s “My White Bicycle” and Pink Floyd’s “Bike”, but the spirit is all wrong.

What about French pop? Did Serge Gainsbourg write a bike song? Maybe Françoise Hardy or Jacqueline Taïeb?

“La Bicyclette” by Yves Montand

After some (very little) digging, I found Yves Montand’s “La Bicyclette”. The era was right. The sentiment was great. And French just sounds magnifique, no? Thus: on se sentait pousser des ailes a bicyclette (we all grow wings on our bicycle).

Divvy Up the Duties

BT and I didn’t really discuss who would do what. We can both letter (BT, me), but his enthusiasm won me over before I even offered. (One of my favorite parts of the collaboration was when BT explained why he chose to letter in the style he does so prolifically. Hint: it’s about efficiency and demand, not ability.)

I had a couple friends I could coerce into being models for me the next day, so I did, and they were.

Original photograph → high contrast version → single color composition (Thanks, Lauren!)
Bicyclette test print

I blew out the contrast and sent the photo to BT. He added letters and bike wheels. We tinkered with colors and bought paper stock (we love French Paper Co.). BT printed transparencies and burned screens. We took turns screen printing at Magnetic North (and made a bitchin’ test print on top of some Walker Cahall art in the process!).

Because he’s a total pro, BT didn’t get any ink on his hands. I had to wash my hands a dozen times throughout the process.

On se sentait pousser des ailes a bicyclette by BT Livermore and Michael Buchino

FIN

Bicyclette signed by Michael Buchino
Bicyclette signed by BT Livermore

We pressed only 20 posters — super limited, right?!?

But I see the collaboration as more than just the yield of prints. We worked well together. We made something we both love. We had fun doing it.

Did we just lay down the blueprint for a new hobby? Probably. Did we stumble upon a sustainable business model? Possibly. (Hey, buy a print — make it sustainable!)

Whatever we just did, I want more of it.


Get your very own Bicyclette art print here.

18" x 24"
LIMITED EDITION OF 20
Printed on 100-lb. Tangy Orange Pop-Tone paper from French Paper Co.

A few of my favorite things: Bicyclette, Lauren and my bike

For more on BT Livermore, visit btlivermore.com.
For more on Michael Buchino, visit
buchino.net.

This article first appeared on blog.buchino.net.