Pilgrim Cycling Company

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The Pilgrim Cycling Company is a brand new, British, independent cycling apparel range set up by London based designer Tom Probert. With the first collection launching very soon, Pilgrim will fill a serious gap in the market for stylish, design-led casual cycling wear, with plans for much more. The DIY Eye caught up with Tom to talk about his fledgling business that’s almost ready to take off.

How did the idea for Pilgrim Cycling come together, can you give a little intro to the company?

I started to identify myself through cycling, but there weren’t any brands out there that fitted what I love about the lifestyle. Cycling gear was either very functional with no style, or very stylish but very serious and focused on racing. That’s when the idea started to creep in. I wanted to make something less serious, less intimidating, celebrating the small details that make an adventure special, memorable. I wanted to make a brand for people who have cycling at the centre of a laid back, carefree, adventurous lifestyle.

How has cycling itself inspired you?

I have my best ideas on a bike. The ideas for Pilgrim started to form over a 2 week ride across the Pyrenees. With so many hours each day in the saddle, you get in a little trance and there’s something about it that sets off a wave of ideas. Moving through beautiful landscapes is inherently inspiring, the new cultures, sights you see and people you meet along the way give me ideas to feed in to the brand. And then there’s a rich visual language of cycling that everyone’s familiar with, which is there to use and to build on.

Congratulations on a successful Kickstarter project. Can you tell us why you decided to raise funds via Kickstarter and go for the DIY approach rather than raise investment other ways? Was it important to keep the business independent?

Kickstarter fits the scale and nature of my project perfectly. I’m so excited that there’s this technology now that allows me to get off the ground whereas 10 years ago when I wanted to start a clothing brand I would have needed to get traditional investment, or get together my own savings! It allows me to launch the brand without the risk and commitment of getting investors onboard, and also it’s been a terrific platform for spreading the word.

Being forced to present the whole brand and share it with people was a priceless shot of motivation and in itself accelerated the project and forced me to look at it through others’ eyes. At this stage it’s important to keep things independent. I’ve got plenty of ideas for the future, but I want to grow carefully and naturally, keeping everything manageable.

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What it does it mean for the company now that you’ve raised over your initial target?

I set a really high standard for myself, so I’d made some pretty ambitious decisions about producing and presenting my products. If I hadn’t have surpassed my target I would have had to compromise on this, but now I’ve got free reign to make sure every detail is the best it can be.

Secondly it’s allowed me to start work on development of two new products that I’m really excited about. One of them I’ve had loads of requests for and should be ready for the winter, the other one is a total secret but I’ve had some good meetings with a collaborator and work has already started on a prototype.

What future plans do you have for Pilgrim?

Telling stories about cycling through t-shirt prints will always be at the heart of what Pilgrim does – each collection will tell new stories in different ways. In the future I want to compliment the t-shirts with gear that we will design and manufacture from scratch. Importantly, I want to make a technical jersey that you can use for a proper cycling adventure! I’ve got a lot of exciting ideas and when I find the right people to work with there will be some great garments coming from Pilgrim.

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You’ve collaborated on the t-shirt designs with other illustrators and designers. As a graphic designer you were more than equipped to design your products by yourself, so is collaboration at the heart of Pilgrim? Are there plans for more?

I’m a massive believer in collaboration. You’re right I could have had a go at doing all my own illustrations, but the result would have been nowhere near as good. There are so many reasons to collaborate: Firstly, the people I work with are specialists that are the very best at the thing they do, so their work is of unbelievable quality. Also, giving someone else an idea to interpret always generates things I would never have thought of and that’s really important, it allows the brand to grow beyond my limitations. Thirdly, all the illustrators I have worked with have their own followings, so it spreads the reach of Pilgrim to new people, and in Alan Berry Rhys’ case, new continents! I feel so lucky to be able to work with people I truly admire, there will be plenty more!

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I was super impressed to see that the manufacture of your products is climate neutral. Can you tell us a little bit more about that and why it was important for you to work with a climate neutral factory?

The garments themselves are made abroad in a climate neutral, wind and solar powered factory, then the t-shirts are hand printed in London using non-chemical inks. So it’s not the perfect solution, but it’s very very good. Ultimately I would like to manufacture everything in Britain, but there are financial constraints on a start up and this is the only way I could get started. Doing my own thing means I get to make every decision, and faced with that possibility, it was a no-brainer to make the product as low-impact as possible, it’s the only responsible thing to do. The thing I love most is being out in nature, and it’s our job to preserve it.

Pilgrim Cycling has a strong identity connected with seeking new, everyday adventures. How would you convince someone to pick up a bike and get out there? 

I would get them on a bike and take them on a ride in the English country lanes on a beautiful Summer day, stopping for lunch and a pint in a country pub along the way, and a cake from a village bakery on the way back. That should do it!

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Do you think adventuring by bicycle gives you a unique perspective, inspiration and appreciation of what’s around you?

Yes absolutely. You’re going at a human pace so you notice more stuff around you. You have to get yourself up the hills, so you gain a real appreciation for the relief of the country. You’re exposed to the elements, so you learn to respect what nature can throw at you. Finally, after a long day in the saddle you gain a unique appreciation for small luxuries like a toasted cheese sandwich, a beer, or a comfy bed!

Where is your favourite place to adventure to?

I like to find adventures every time I go out on my bike. If you have the right attitude, there are interesting things to see everywhere. Big trips like crossing the Alpes and Pyrenees are obviously incredible, but in London where I live I’ve had unexpected adventures just getting from A to B – discovering hidden rivers running through the city, even a lighthouse!

Where can we buy the first range of Pilgrim Cycling products?

If you’re in London on the 5th – 7th December Pilgrim will be at the Spin London Xmas show where the whole range will be available. The website will soon be up and ready to take orders too, at www.pilgrimcycling.com.

Ex Hex – Rips

Ex Hex have been my new favourite band for a while, despite having just one single release to their name. Partly due to the faultless three tracks on single Hot and Cold and partly due to the weight of the back catalogue of singer/songwriter/guitarist Mary Timony. Formerly of Wild Flag (alongside Carrie Brownstein of Sleater Kinney & Portlandia fame), Autoclave and Helium, as well as a 2005 solo album also called Ex Hex, it’s an understatement to say Mary’s earned her punk rock stripes. Her experience in the field means she so knows how to craft the perfect spiky guitar blaster of a rock ‘n’ roll tune, of three minutes or less.

The debut full length Ex Hex album Rips is released next week, on awesome independent label Merge Records and happily is now streaming on NPR Music. It’s everything I’d hoped based on their first single and recent teaser tracks Beast and the rousing opener Don’t Wanna Lose.

The band are currently touring the US (fingers crossed for some UK dates) and tour info can be found here.

Video for single Hot & Cold:

Home Zine

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The Home Zine, a joint project by Tallulah Fontaine  and Carla McRae, is described as a ‘zine about the people, places, feelings and spaces that we call home‘. It’s a collection of illustrations on that theme by some of Australia and Canada’s best young illustrators.

Tallulah Fontaine’s portraits of all contributors makes up the first spread:

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Tallulah Fontaine

Contributors are the afore mentioned Tallulah Fontaine and Carla McRae; Gemma Topliss, Maddy Young, Aaron Billings, Ohara Hale, Leona Fietz, Julia Trybala and Auf Wiedersehen. Visit the Home Zine blog HERE for all contributor links.

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Maddy Young

Issue one is out now: 9 illustrators, 16 pages, 10 ‘Home’ illustrations inside.

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L: Tallulah Fontaine R:Carla McRae

Buy the Home Zine HERE. Looking forward to issue two!

Fertile Ground featuring Margaret Kilgallen

If you’re lucky enough to leave near, or be visiting Oakland, California between now and next April, you’re in for a treat. Fertile Ground: Art and Community in California is currently showing at the Oakland Museum of California and includes the chance to see work by the late, great Margaret Kilgallen (above).

I’m going to just paste the quote direct from the museum’s website with all the main information about this exhibition, because there’s a fair bit to take in and it’s such a great idea for a show – to pick four key and very different moments in Californian art history:

“…the exhibition tells the stories of four creative communities at decisive moments in the history of California art: the circle of artists who worked with, influenced, and were influenced by Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo in San Francisco in the 1930s; the legendary painters and photographers associated with the California School of Fine Arts in the 1940s and 1950s, including Mark Rothko, Clyfford Still, Richard Diebenkorn, David Park, Minor White, and Imogen Cunningham; the free-spirited faculty and students at UC Davis in the 1960s and 1970s, such as Robert Arneson, Wayne Thiebaud, William T. Wiley, and Bruce Nauman; and the streetwise, uncompromisingly idealistic artists at the center of a vibrant new Mission scene that took root in the 1990s through the present, including Barry McGee, Chris Johanson, Margaret Kilgallen, Amy Franceschini,  Ruby Neri, Alicia McCarthy, and Rigo 23, along with many others. Focusing equally on the artworks and the contexts that fostered their creation, Fertile Ground presents an intimate and textured history of personal relationships, artistic breakthroughs, and transformative social change.”

There are clearly a host of fantastic artists included in this exhibition and much to explore, but I would especially love to see Kilgallen’s work in the flesh, as it’s always resonated with me. She was inspired by American and Indian folk art, and the hand painted signs, motifs and typography found around San Francisco’s Mission District. Her work was often in homage to unsung heroines and would include large scale hand lettering, small paintings and portraiture, all wonderfully crafted in her inimitable style. There’s a short film via YouTube about some of her inspirations below.

She is also of course, one of the featured artists in the 2008 documentary Beautiful Losers. It’s reassuring that 13 years after her untimely death at only 33 years old, recognition of the importance of her work is not in any way diminishing.

Made by Hand: The Melbourne DIY Scene

I found out about this excellent, little documentary via Frankie Magazine. Made by RMIT student Tatanja Ross, it’s a small window on the burgeoning creative, handmade, DIY scene in Melbourne, Australia. It’s like a mini Handmade Nation for Melbourne, and features talented artists, makers and illustrators such as Gemma Flack, Carla McRae and Auf Wiedersehen, several of whom I already follow on Instagram, so it was great to find out a bit more about them.

OFF LIFE 10

 

OFF LIFE, the UK’s free, independent, bi-monthly comics anthology has a new issue out. Issue 10 can now be read online or picked up free from stockists in Bristol and London. Each issue features short complete comics from established and up and coming comics writers, on a submissions basis, and the quality of work is always tremendous. Issue 10 is no exception and features some of my personal favourites with a cover by Jean Jullien, and comics by Kristyna Baczynski and Dan Berry – who, by the way also produces a pretty awesome podcast chatting to other comic artists. This issue also includes great little interview about what it means to be ‘indie’ with Annie Koyama of Koyama Press.

Visit www.offlife.co.uk for more information and to read all 10 issues online.

Power to the People: Long Live Southbank

Great news from the Long Live Southbank Campaign: after 17 months of hard work and relentless campaigning, the undercroft at the Southbank Centre has officially been saved and will be preserved as the internationally renowned home of British Skateboarding.

After a classic David v Goliath-esque tussle fraught with underhand tactics, misinformation and inaccurate claims from the Southbank Centre, an unexpected adversary in the form of Billy Bragg and equally unexpected,  much needed support from the Mayor of London, the LLSB group have secured the safe keeping of the undercroft for future generations of users.

Years of opposition and harassment from the SBC authorities culminated in a complete underestimation and lack understanding of this formidably creative community. They were ill prepared to take on a group of skateboarders with more passion, creativity, integrity and support they could possibly have imagined. The art business failed in its attempt to take on and take over the sacred business of art.

LLSB have shown just what can be achieved by the underdog, with their impeccable, eloquent campaign that’s a credit to them and their supporters.

LLSB have also just released a super slick book documenting the unique history and culture of the Southbank undercroft community, click the image below for a preview:

Click ‘continue reading’ below to read the full LLSB joint statement and follow the whole story at www.llsb.com and www.facebook.com/LongLiveSouthbank

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Flash Back Friday: Lori D for Concrete 2 Canvas: More Skateboarder’s Art

This week’s #FBF is to Lori D‘s wonderful illustration for her Foreword to the book Concrete 2 Canvas: More Skateboarder’s Art.

Back in 2007 Laurence King Publishing released this book compiled by me, as a follow up to the first book: Concrete To Canvas: Skateboarders’ Art. The Concrete to Canvas books showcased the art and creativity at the heart of skateboarding, with personal portfolios by artists from skateboarding backgrounds. I think this book is now out of print but can still be picked up cheaply from Amazon. This second book features even more of my favourite artists including Thomas Campbell, Fernando Elvira, Jeremy Fish and Jim Houser to name just a few.

Incidentally Lori D has just released some new postcards and prints through her big cartel store, click the image below to see more of her visual treats:

Lori D archival print Summer

Lori wrote a super inspiring Foreword to Concrete 2 Canvas about the creativity she had witnessed and experienced within the Skateboarding community, which can be read in full by clicking ‘continue reading’ below —>

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Lucy McLauchlan – Marking Shadows

The super talented Lucy McLauchlan has a new show opening this week at the Lazarides Gallery in London.  Marking Shadows is the fruit of an ‘explorative mark-making journey’ which has seen her swap the urban backdrop usually associated with her work, for more rural landscapes. She has created a new body of work of abstract paintings and installations that draw on her time spent in natural environments, inspired by the elements. Marking Shadows opens Friday 19th September and runs until Saturday 18th October. More info from the gallery HERE.

Image from Lucy’s blog here.