Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on July 15th, 2011 at 11:21 am
A few months ago, I followed a link to an amazing bicycle. It had a paint job with finely detailed illustrations that told a children’s story. It was bike and a book and it was unlike anything I’d ever seen.
Turns out that bike was created by 59 year old Portland resident Karl Edwards. When I realized he lived in Portland, I got in touch with him to learn more about his work. Edwards and his wife Erica moved to Portland from the Bay Area four years ago, “to get out of California and live in the SW near Lewis and Clark College.”
As you might assume given the dedication it took to create that children’s book bike, Edwards isn’t just an artist who did a bike project: He’s an unabashed bike lover with an impressive body of bicycle-related work and a penchant for riding, collecting, and drawing vintage bicycles.
Edwards has done a variety of bike-related projects; but the ones that perfectly combine his passion for drawing and antique bikes are his original posters…
Edwards has been a freelance illustrator for 35 years and says he’s been, “collecting, buying, selling and riding bikes for just as long.” In the 1980s and early ’90s he collected, restored and even raced antique bikes in Japan and Europe. He even toured Europe on an 1887 “ordinary” (a.k.a. penny farthing or high-wheeler).
Edwards has a soft spot for military bikes from the 1890s.
Far from being stuck in the past, Edwards also collects modern bikes. His Oregon-made Co-Motion tandem — that he rides with his wife Erica — is something to behold. It’s made out of titanium and Edwards said it’s one of only six ever made.
In a nod to the artisan craftsmanship of Portland’s local bike builders, Edwards’ personal bike is an Ahearne. “It is exquisite,” Edwards says, “Joseph is an artist.” That’s high praise coming from a professional artist and bike collector.
Edwards has sold most of his antique bikes, but his love of riding and drawing them hasn’t wanted. “I took a class at Alpenrose Velodrome last week and it was scary,” he wrote me via email, “Everyone else was so cool, but I was nervous on that banked track. Maybe they were too, but I’m old enough to admit it.”
I doubt the others in that track class knew that the nervous old guy next to them used to race high-wheelers!
Check out more of Karl’s work (and keep him in mind for your illustration needs) via KarlEdwards.com.
— This is the first of what I hope becomes a regular profile of interesting, bike-centric Portlanders. If you have a suggestion for someone to profile, get in touch.