In the Shed with Rich Mitch

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Tea time with designer and illustrator Richard Mitchelson, working on his latest mug designs for Rouleur: Sagan, Froome, Fabian and Greg…

Photographs: Richard Mitchelson

Rich, it’s just past lunchtime. How many brews so far?

 

Three. But I am due another very soon. I’m at the point where I’m feeling a bit parched…

 

Which mug have you been using today?

 

It’s not one of mine. It says ‘Yorkshire born and bred’ on one side, and ‘Proud of it’ on the back. It was a present from my mother-in-law, who is from Cambridgeshire, but it is bone china, like we use in our mugs, and it’s big, and it’s really nice.

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A good half-pint of tea?

 

I think so, yeah. It’s my go-to tea mug – the shape, and the quality china…

 

You’re a tea man, let’s face it. How do you feel about people drinking coffee out of your mugs?

 

I don’t mind. I had a thought the other day that maybe 2017 might be the year that I get into coffee. But it worried me, because I get really obsessive about things, and I don’t want to get obsessive about coffee. I love tea because it’s really easy. You don’t have to eulogise about it.

 

Exactly. I mean, you don’t want to end up like Christian Meier, where it becomes a full time job.

 

No! I met him at the Rouleur Classic, he’s a lovely chap. And he makes very good coffee. It’s like rocket fuel for somebody like me who doesn’t drink coffee very often.

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Some of your mug designs must be easier than others. Sagan is a gift, but others you must struggle to find the angle?

 

When I was doing the designs for Sky, some of them were really hard: there was nothing there, no hook. Most people, you look at them and straight away, there is something there. I look at what I’ve got and nudge things around for a whole day, until that person is looking back at me.

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I am looking at your Eddy Merckx as we speak. 

 

It was the first one I did for Rouleur. That drove everything else. But it has changed, and I don’t know if people have noticed, but I think it has got a bit more refined as it has gone on. Maybe only I can see it, but I think it is more intricate, more ‘Eddy’.

 

Fabian Cancellara has to be a good one to do? What’s the hook there? Big hair?

 

Hair, yes. And rugged. He is the ultimate specimen, isn’t he?

 

He is. And stubble?

 

A very fine stubble, yeah. And I like the jersey that I have done on him as well. It’s one of my favourite national champ’s jerseys, probably because of what he did in it. The team version has the [sponsor’s] logos on it, but it doesn’t detract from the fact that it’s a national champion’s jersey. I like that. I don’t like the Astana ones, where it becomes secondary. I think the Rapha designs with Sky have been as they should be.

 

That makes sense with Rapha’s design aesthetic generally, doesn’t it? If they suddenly did something really fussy, it would jar.

 

It would. Also Edwald Boassen Hagen’s for Norway – that was really good.

 

Tell us about your shed. Is that workspace important for you? It seems like you always have music pumping out from down there. Do you find inspiration at the bottom of your garden?

 

I think so, yeah. I either have music or podcasts, or videos or documentaries in the background. When you work on your own, you have to have something going on. I don’t want to listen to my own monologue all day – I’m boring enough as it is. I need something that’s going to fire me up and get me going.

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In a small house, with two children, it works. I tried working in the house and it was impossible. I have been in the shed for almost a year and it has been brilliant. It is disconnected enough, even though it’s at the bottom of the garden. You step out of the house, and what the house represents. It is tiny – six feet by eight feet – but it’s enough. My desk, my computers, it’s warm. That is all I need.

 

Me and my Dad put a lot of work into it – insulation, electrics, other bits and bobs – and that makes me love it more than something that was just bought off the shelf. It’s my own space.

 

Rich Mitch mugs – and plenty more – are available at the Rouleur shop.