We were fortunate enough to catch up with one of our favourite illustrators, Rich Mitch, and to ask him a few questions about himself and his work. If you know his work you will want to read on and if you are not familiar with his work you are missing out and should want to read on too. Make sure you click below or on the image above to read our interview. A big thank you to Rich for taking the time out to chat with us.
1- Hi Rich, first of all could you please introduce yourself to our readers?
Hello, my name is Richard Mitchelson. I’m an illustrator, animator and a very keen cyclist.
2- What is your cycling background?
My background in cycling stems from my Dad, who has always ridden his bike and who raced a bit as a lad. I started racing in the last 3 years after riding my bike to keep fit during 5 years or so rowing. I started racing on the road but have fallen in love with cyclocross and it’s my main aim in the year now. It’s just massive amounts of fun, and pain… This summer I’ve started racing XC MTB, which has also been amazing and something I will continue to do in the future, perhaps entering longer Marathon events such as 12 or 24 hr races… but that’s a way off yet…
3- What has inspired you to do cycling portraits and illustrations?
Cycling is full of history and characters, as a sport its full of drama, speed and excitement which inspire you whenever you race or sit and watch a race on the TV. When I started creating work for Rouleur magazine I immersed myself in the history of the sport, finding out more about riders and races that perhaps I hadn’t experienced or known about in the past. I have always drawn things and as my love for cycling grew it became the thing I found myself drawing a lot more of the time. Soon it was all i could think of, and when people started to ask for riders they loved to be created I would research them and work them up into portraits or perhaps stories in Rouleur Magazine such as the famous battle between Lemond and Fignon in 1989.
4- You have a very unique style. Where did it come from and how long have you been doing it for?
The style used for the portraits was created after I worked on a short animated loop of Eddy Merckx and posted it onto my blog to see what people thought. This was 2009. It got picked up by some really big blogs and websites and people really liked it. Out of the blue I got an email from Rouleur editor Guy Andrews about creating something for the mag. We met at a little Italian cafe near their old offices and Guy told me he wanted me to create a comic stripped version of the documentary “The Greatest Show on Earth” about the 1974 Giro. He told me he was going to the Tour for three weeks and he would want ti on his desk for when he got back. After a moment of mild panic, and A LOT of research, watching the film and drawing I got the style sorted and worked day and night to fill the 12 pages in the mag. It worked out really well and the response from both Rouleur and the readers was very positive. The style you see in that piece became the style for the rider portraits you see now with the likes of Team Sky and others today. I try and create a different style of illustration whenever I create something in Rouleur Magazine but the portrait style is the thing that remains consistent on things such as mugs and shirts etc.
5- I really like the work you did with Team Sky. Could you tell us a little bit about your work with them and how did the relationship start?
The Team Sky work came about during the off season around Christmas time. We [me and Rouleur] had wanted to create something with current riders and came up with the ‘Best of British’ idea using British riders currently in the pro ranks. When Mark Cavendish moved to Team Sky we approached them to see what they thought about an official Team Sky mug range. They agreed and the riders signed off the artwork during the winter at their training camp in Majorca. It was pretty thrilling to think that THOSE guys were checking out my work, I am a massive cycling fan after all. Once they’d given the OK we were good to go. We worked with Fran Millar at Team Sky and she was brilliant. So now they’re out, and selling like hot… mugs. After a recent public vote to find out who they wanted to have ‘Mugged’ next Bernhard Eisel came out on top, and his portrait has just been revealed.
Photos via Rouleur.
6- Have you got any project on its way that you are allowed to share with us?
There’s definitely more to come. I’m hoping to do more with Rouleur Magazine very soon, and all being well [touches wood] with Team Sky also. I recently created a small run of cycling inspired tea towels. It was the first time I had sourced, designed and created something just by myself. I worked with screen printer Dan Mather and I think we created a really great towel. I’m hoping to create more screen printed products soon, whether thats paper prints, tea towels, tote bags or something else.
7- Thanks a lot for your time Rich! We’re really looking forward to seeing more from you.
Thanks for the questions and letting me show my work on your blog, its a great site.