Meet Bob Thomson. As Creative Director, Bob drives the artistic vision behind the art and style of Felt’s bicycles. From the flashiest beach cruisers to the bold Belgian style of cyclocross, Bob and his team of designers create the graphics for each part of a bike. Every detail–from frames to bar tape–is part of the Felt creative vision, encapsulated in the finished product you see on the road, trail, race or boardwalk.
How did you arrive at Felt?
I hated my career in the action sports clothing industry and had just purchased my third Felt (true story, an F frame set). I was checking out the Felt website, as any bike geek would do, and saw an old post for a graphic design position (they weren’t looking too hard). I hassled them until I was hired.
Can you explain what you do in 50 words or fewer?
I make bike stickers and I also make sure that everyone uses the correct red.
What’s your favorite bike to ride?
The F FRD. It’s the finest riding bike I have ever thrown a leg over, seriously. I want to make out with our engineers every time I ride it.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen on a ride?
I can think of two. I saw a helicopter crash-land across the street from me, and one morning in 2003 while riding down PCH, I noticed a thick and perfectly straight smoke trail in the sky, from one horizon to the other. I didn’t realize it at the time but I was looking at the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster.
What was the last thing that inspired you and where do you look to for inspiration?
Recent bike-related inspiration would be the Tour of California. Seeing the pros, the carnival atmosphere, checking out all the bikes of the spectators. There’s great energy at the big bike races.
Tradeshows in the snow, shoe, and athletic industries are great resources for inspiration. Those industries work on a timeline that is so far out that they are usually good indicators for trends & colors.
My every day creative inspiration comes from following interesting folks of all walks on the Internets, and listening to music.
What superpower would you have and why?
Magic powers. Enough said.
Name three people who recently inspired you:
Of course, that would be my wife and kids, everyone says that, but it’s true. No one wants to read that crap, though, am I right?
Mick Egan is an Australian chap, great designer, great artist, and a great big strong man. I am constantly in awe of his natural/effortless design skills, and mastery of Aussie slang.
Eli Atkins is a Creative Director at Giro, I met him before I was in the bike industry, through music. He drives and pushes me everyday, mostly through threats and insults.
AJ Nesselrod is an amazing Illustrator, but most importantly an incredibly warm hearted person, which is how he has inspired me most recently.
All three of those fellas have taught me a lot about my craft, and about being a human man.
What’s the one thing you can’t live without?
My wife and kids. That’s the only thing I require.
What has been your favorite Felt bike to work on and why?
Probably the Bradley Wiggins National Champ DA we designed for him about five years ago when he was on Garmin….the one with a big Union Jack spread across the frame.
I was a mod in my teen years, still dig the mod culture, still love all of that music, and I knew Brad was a bit of a mod himself. So I cranked The Jam and had at it. I watched with great pride as he rode that bike at World’s, live on my computer, here at work.
Of course his chain popped off, and in a hissy fit only pro bike riders seem to muster up, he hucked the bike into the barriers, right in front of my tearing eyeballs.
Coffee or Tea?
Paved or Dirt?
I love bikes of all varieties, but I am most comfortable on the pavement.
High-tech or low-tech?
I have the obligatory smart phone, and work on a computer all day, but that’s as far as it goes. What does that make me, medium-tech?
What’s in your garage?
I wish I knew. Everything that didn’t fit into my house? It’s a bit of a nightmare actually.
Advice for success?
Do what you love. If that doesn’t work out – do what you are good at. Experience is everything, so go get some.