Here Come the Clowns! An Interview with Artist Jeremy Pettis’ Circus Graphics for Manitou’s New DJ Fork
If there’s two things few of us outgrow, it’s the circus and bike stickers.
Last month, Manitou announced their all-new (and first) Dirt Jump fork called the Circus.Ã‚Â Besides the included red clown nose, each fork comes with different colored sets of circus-inspired graphics from artist Jeremy Pettis.Ã‚Â At Rich Travis’ (Manitou brand manager) suggestion, I spoke with Pettis about the job and how it came about that he had the honors of drawing up the goods.
How’d you get hooked up with Manitou and have the opportunity to create graphics for their new DJ fork?
I attended college with Katy Steudel, who has an awesome cycling team, Team Pegasus. You may have heard of them. Anyway, about a year ago I needed a bike and pulled an old Schwinn Varsity out of my parents garage. It was in rough shape but Katy and her boyfriend Cale fixed it up for me in trade for a t-shirt design for team pegasus. After that Katy was talking about getting me involved over at her dayjob at Manitou and was asking if I’d want to help out designing a sticker sheet. Of course I wanted to! She hooked me up with their brand manager Rich.
What sort of guidelines did they give you? Was the Circus name already known, or did you help develop the name, too?
The only real guidelines I had was that the name was circus and that they wanted something that had to do with the circus.
What was your process for creating the Circus graphics? (ie. did you run through a lot of variations? do you have some original sketches you could share?)
Rich and I would just get on the phone and discuss different ideas. Then I’d spend a few days sketching out what we had talked about, taking it in various directions. After I’d scan and send my sketches to Rich he’d print them out and cut them up and resend them back to me. We went through this cycle at least 3 times before the finalized version. A lot of great ideas came out of Rich and I’s brainstorm sessions, probably one of the best clients I’ve had yet. I’ve attached some of the better sketches I’d sent over to Rich.
More interview and some wild concept sketches shown after the break…
Your artwork seems focused on typography, most recently with a series on creating font sets based on different animals. It’s great stuff…where’d you get the idea for that?
Yeah I love working with type. There is a pureness to it, simple untainted shapes. Thanks for checking out my work I’m glad you liked it. That was actually from spring 2007, It was my senior thesis project at MIAD. There was a lot of stress on coming up with a good idea for our senior projects. I had no idea what I wanted to do and was stressing over it. When I finally let loose and relaxed I was joking around with my buddy Knott and said the idea as a joke. By the time we had to turn in our ideas for approval it was really the only thing good I’d thought of. It ended up being a challenging and rewarding project.
Do you ride? If so, what type of bike do you roll on and what type of riding do you do?
I’m a casual rider, I have an orange/red Schwinn Varsity. It’s pretty heavy but it’s reliable. It’s about time for me to dig it out of the basement and start riding out to the lake front to draw and listen to music. Can’t wait.