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The man who creates some of cycling’s most iconic and recognisable illustrations turned his hand to the ASSOS Layering System. Here, we talk to Rich about his creative inspiration, his first pair of ASSOS socks (on loan from his dad), and how he sketched Daniel Oss’s curly locks.

ASSOS −Hi Rich,

In 14 years working as an illustrator and animator, you’ve pretty much dominated cycling. For ASSOS, you’ve created a whole new visual language using the characters from BMC Racing Team to explain the ASSOS Layering System. Naturally, we’re really keen to hear about your earliest introduction to the brand:

Rich Mitch − As the son of someone who rides as much as they can, you grow up seeing cycling brands come and go − whether that’s on the pages of Cycling Weekly or just on my Dad’s riding mates. ASSOS was the one they always thought was the best; if people were wearing ASSOS in the 90’s they were serious about their riding.

ASSOS −Nice, so you headed up to ASSOS LDN for the full immersion into the kit. When presented with the Layering System for the first time, how did you try to break it down?

RM − When presented with the range at first I found it impressive to say the least. Everything was catered for − any type of weather or riding. If I needed to do ‘this’ session in ‘these’ conditions I knew there’d be something in your range that the really helpful guys at ASSOS LDN could suggest. I had to look at the ASSOS Layering System personally; which pieces would I wear at certain times of year, and by doing that I really started to understand it. The kit we wear out on the bike is very personal, some people like to layer up and some don’t, they wear one key piece with maybe a base underneath. By doing that, it clicked.
 
ASSOS − Then back in your studio, can you tell us about your work process?

RM − I work a lot in my sketch book to start with, usually writing down ideas, thumb nail drawings and doodles. I need to get everything out of my head fast and in an instant. I rarely labour over these early thoughts. I’m full of enthusiasm and want to get everything out onto the page as soon as I can to then start to join the ideas together and make it into a workable film.

I then start thumb nailing a story board, choosing shots, telling the story I have in my head or that I7rsquo;ve discussed with the client. I want to add in little bits of interest throughout to keep people watching. Usually a look starts to appear off the page at this point too and I can take those doodles and work them up in the computer to create something a lot more polished.

Once the story board is approved and the final look and feel nailed down I can start animation on the computer. Then, once that’s complete, it goes to sound design. The sound design and music really brings the whole thing to life. I always love seeing it for the first time with sound, the world you’ve created in front of you finally comes alive.

ASSOS − But you always keep a close eye on how the pro peloton are racing too. One of the ASSOS LDN staff commented that they had never met someone so passionate about cycling, so what is it about this beautiful sport that first got your hooked and keeps you invigorated today?

RM − That’s a really lovely thing for them to say. I’m very lucky that the sport I love is involved in my work pretty heavily. You have to have passion for your work to make it the best you can every time someone asks you to work with them, whether they’re someone asking me to create a portrait commission or one of the biggest brands in the world.

The first thing that got me hooked on cycling was the 1989 Tour de France, it was so exciting and something I’d never seen before in sport. The reason I still love cycling and watching racing is that you never know what each race or stage of a longer race will hold, you go into it hoping certain riders will do well and often you get something completely different but even more exciting than you expect. It’s that excitement that I hope I never lose. Races like Paris−Roubaix are the days I love the most, one day fights all the way to the line.

ASSOS −Looking at your Instagram, you can’t miss the sense of excitement you have at taking your kids out for their earliest bike rides. Are these the sort of memories that you’ve got too?

RM − I remember my first rides on my bike, but at the time cycling wasn’t as much a part of my life as it is now. I loved that feeling of freedom you get for probably the first time in your life cycling gives you when you’re really young.

Seeing that on my eldest daughter’s face [she started riding her bike without stabilisers etc just before her 4th birthday] when she took off on her own on her bike was something I will never forget. We often go for little rides and seeing how happy it makes her and the questions she asks about racing etc really is great. Watch this space for the Cyclocross World Championships in 2035 ;-)

Future World Champ in training? Watch this space…

ASSOS −Finally, we know you’ve got your Cycling Jersey podcast, so what’s your take on ASSOS jerseys?

RM − Ah yes! The Cycling Jerseys Podcast is something I host with Ed Cowburn from Milltag. I think that where the ASSOS range is now is the strongest it’s ever been. It’s clean, simple, stylish and has a strong design throughout which makes it instantly recognisable as an ASSOS product. It’s also great to see ASSOS back in the Pro Peloton with BMC Racing Team. Working with the best riders in the world can only help make the products better year in year out.

The stats:

Frames − 2750 of the full piece.

Kit − The riders are wearing the correct kit even under their helmets when they’re riding although you might not see it.

Riders − Greg’s own Rocket Espresso machine makes an appearance at the beginning of the film.

Riders − Daniel’s base guitar sits proudly in his house at the beginning of the film too.

For more info on the ASSOS Layering System go to www.assos.com