Julian Kyer - artist and professional cyclist - shares the creation process of his beautiful contribution to our Art Box project.
Here at Skratch Labs, we primarily sponsor and work with athletes who use our products. The inspiration we derive from doing so isn’t different than the inspiration we get when we see a beautiful piece of art or hear an incredible song. We exist because we want to help people realize their personal potential. We are inspired by human performance. The medium doesn’t matter.
With this in mind, we've asked several artists to help us continue a tradition of occasionally sending our customers orders whimsically decorated boxes. This serves two purposes; first, to remind us all that beauty can exist in the smallest and most unexpected places, and second, by commending the desire we all have to give back and create beauty in the world.
Earlier this summer, we asked long-time friend Julian Kyer - an artist and professional cyclist - to create a series of boxes for us. For him, it was an opportunity to dive-back-into self not frequently enjoyed in the day-to-day of pro cycling. We love the boxes he created, and can't wait to share them with our customers. These are his thoughts on their creation.
Art flows through my family, and has always been part of my life. I’ve been writing, drawing, and painting way longer than I’ve been riding bikes, and it’s funny that the bike brought me back to these roots.
Housesitting for my brother-from-another-mother one offseason broke a years-long artistic dry spell that started when I turned pro. I’d become so fixated on racing that everything else fell by the wayside, until I found myself in Pete Stetina’s empty house for three weeks, with no training to be done. It was Halloween, and after re-watching “Exit Through the Gift Shop” I decided to carve some Banksy-themed pumpkins.
I sat down on the back patio with my designs and a paring knife. As I cut into the bizarre heirloom pumpkins I’d bought, I realized their walls were inches thick and that there would be no way to carve so much as a smiley face into them without losing at least a finger. So I drove off to the art store, where I spent a silly amount of money on woodcarving tools, and returned to my project.
Of course, two days later the pumpkins I’d spent hours carving were full of flies and rotting. Dumping them in the trash, I decided I’d not scratched my creative itch yet, and I drove back to the art store to spend an even sillier amount of money on spray paint, razors, tape, paper, and canvases.
I kept playing with rattle cans, giving canvases to my family and friends, and eventually started getting requests. After Biju Thomas let me take some big risks painting the biggest pieces I’ve ever done (on the walls of his new restaurants no less), Allen Lim asked me if I’d like to paint some art boxes for Skratch Labs. Allen and Skratch have been an integral (and often secret) part of my cycling career, so, of course I was excited to do something different and new with them. Something we could give to the rest of the world.
50 flattened cardboard boxes stack like album covers, and creating art brings me to a state of flow that feels like dancing, so it seemed natural to paint the musicians that inspire me. They are, after all, my most frequent and reliable training partners. There have been countless days where a new track or playlist were the only things that got me outside into apocalyptically bad weather, days when only one track could get me through the last set of intervals.
I hope that, if you are lucky enough to find one of these boxes on your doorstep (or see it in transit), it inspires you to get out and do whatever it is that you are passionate about, just like their music has inspired and motivated me. Maybe it will inspire you to reach for something you thought was lost, but was there the whole time. Or maybe it will inspire you to try something new, something that you’ve always wanted to do but didn’t think you could.
At any rate, I hope I made at least one smile with this project. As I sign all my paintings…
(You can follow my racing and painting on Instagram @juliankyer.)