Craig is a Customer Sales Assistant in our Aberdeen shop. Here he writes about his passion: Designing and custom painting helmets for downhill racers.
“Outside of working at the Edinburgh Bicycle Cooperative store in Aberdeen, I design and custom paint helmets under the name Element 9 Graphics. I’ve been into bikes since I was three, probably influenced by my dad always having owned motorcycles, working on them and even running his own shop at one point. So I’ve grown up around two wheels and was never far from my bike.
I studied graphic design at college and I became interested in custom helmet painting as it’s something that relates to both bikes and design, and is a good way for me to combine my passions. After completing a diploma in design and landing my first design job, I got an airbrush and set about painting helmets for my buddies in my spare time.
Working in the evenings and weekends I’ve gone from painting for friends to working for top Scottish downhillers and World Cup racers. In the last couple of years, I’ve painted helmets for the likes of pro downhill mountain bike world cup riders Tahnée Seagrave, Wyn Masters, Ruaridh Cunningham and Innes Graham. Design ideas usually start out with a discussion to see what the rider wants; sometimes there’s certain logos that need to be on the helmet or certain colours that need to be used, but often the design comes from the rider’s idea and I’ll spend some time developing it until they’re happy, drawing out a computer mock-up to be sure logos are in the right place. After the design is approved, I get to work stripping and prepping the helmet before taping out the design and building up each layer of paint. Each process is done by hand so it can take anywhere from 20 to 40+ hours to complete a paint job.
A pretty surreal moment this year was handing over Ruaridh’s helmet to the team manager at Ft William World Cup and seeing it about half an hour later, 40ft high on the big screen! Also seeing Tahnée Seagrave get her best result to date at Ft William 2015 whilst wearing an E9G painted helmet was a good feeling.