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Rouleur Cover Stories: issue 47 – Le Tour in Britain by Martin Proctor

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“Coming up with an idea is like being on my bike in the sunshine, speeding down a hill with a tailwind.” Illustrator Martin Proctor deconstructs his subscriber cover for Rouleur issue 47

What do a human cannonball, a director’s chair, a Hell’s Angels jacket, the Bayeux Tapestry, a Lichtenstein painting and a guy hiding in a cupboard have to do with riding a bicycle?


The answer is they all, along with others, make an appearance on the subscribers’ cover of Rouleur issue 47 that I was asked to design in the same style as the ride journals I’ve been keeping for the last four years.


There were eight featured stories that had to appear on the cover so each one needed to be approached as a separate design problem and solved before they could be put together as an overall layout concept.


Staring miserably at a blank sheet of white paper, I wondered if I would regret telling Ian at Rouleur that even after hundreds of entries, I never lacked inspiration for my journal drawings.


I recalled how on one occasion several years ago, when faced with a tough brief and a short deadline, after hours of agonising I’d fallen to my knees, clasped my hands and prayed for an idea to come. Eventually it did, God knows where from.


Happily, for the Rouleur cover, divine intervention was not required as from somewhere in my mental archive came images and novel connections that clicked into place.


What seems to work is juxtaposing elements that don’t usually belong together: for instance, a ‘do not disturb’ sign on a frontier post or modern day Tour riders on William the Conqueror’s invasion ships.


The viewer sees the image, makes the connection in their own mind and by their ‘getting it’, the whole thing is more engaging.


So for me, coming up with an idea is like being on my bike in the sunshine, speeding down a hill with a tailwind.


Being stuck is like standing alone in the rain with a flat tyre, miles from home with freezing hands.


Selected prints of Martin Proctor’s cycling illustrations are available at the Rouleur shop.


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