Artcrank started in 2007, and was founded by Charles Youel on a whim. "He had a network of all these designers," says media director Patrick Murphy. "They all loved to bike, they biked together on weekends, and they got bored with stuff they were designing for a living." They planned to have a showing at One on One Bicycle Shop, anticipating 50 people might show up. It ended up being more like 500. Struck with how large the turnout was, Youel decided the event could be something bigger.
Over the years, Artcrank has grown to include shows in cities all over the United States and Europe, but the formula remains the same. Whether they are in Portland, London, or New York, local artists submit portfolios and are selected based on their artistic merit. From there, "it's an exercise in trust," Murphy says. There's no design review process; once artists are selected, they create posters about how they experience bikes.
So far, over 1,400 posters have been created for various Artcrank shows around the world, and artists never seem to run out of ideas for how to visualize the bicycle theme. "It speaks to how personal of an expression it is for people," he says. The result spans all over the board, including perspectives from hard core mountain bikers, daily commuters, childhood memories of bicycling, and people inspired by the Greenway. "It's really all over the place," he says.
Because it's a locally focused show, many of the artists and designers will attend the opening. So it's a great chance to talk to the artist about their work. You can also purchase your own limited-edition piece for $50. There will be between 30 to 100 copies of each work created just for the Artcrank event, and the posters will be on view at One on One Bicycle gallery afterward. Each of the posters -- whether they are screenprints, created with a letterpress, or made using another printing process -- are signed and numbered by the artist. "We've taken our fair share of flack for that," Murphy says, with critics wishing that posters were available online. "There's something special about being the only one of your friends that has a poster."
Saturday's event includes valet bike parking, provided by Nice Ride MN. There will also be plenty of food trucks out back, including Gastrotruck, Red River Kitchen (from the owner of Republic), Sassy Spoon, Fork in the Road, and Schmancy Snacks. Music will be provided by the Current, and Deschutes Brewery will be serving beer, the proceeds of which go to World Bicycle Relief.
Among the 40 artists featured in the show, half of whom are participating for the first time, are Adarm Turman, a bicycle enthusiast and Artcrank veteran; Anne Ulku, who designed this year's touring poster; and Instagram celebrity David Schwen.
Lastly, Murphy says that Artcrank tends to be a pretty diverse event. While it attracts the hardcore biking crowd, there are also families and men and women from all backgrounds that show up. "It's not a thing where everyone has tattoos or piercings," he says. It's a family-friendly event that it attracts people from all ages who share a love of bicycles.