Gree Rough - Keeper of the Crayons for Genesis Bikes and gun for hire at Madison.
I started in design by re-designing football kits and race cars I didn’t like when I was a child. Then designing logos for friends as a teenager.
I have worked in the action sports industry all my career but in terms of bike design, it stemmed from designing helmet graphics for a friend who rides MX in the states and surfboard graphics for other friends here in the UK. Actual bike design didn’t really happen until I arrived at Animal and got to work on projects with the Atherton’s and Martyn Ashton. Then, I saw a job advertised at Scott-Sports, took a punt and the rest is history.
The 931 Stainless Equilibrium that did not get ranged and is sat in my kitchen.
Out of the ones that did get in probably the Vapour Carbon 30 as a complete bike or the Tarn 29er. Saying that I do have my eyes on a Womens Datum Frameset because it’s the most interesting colour and comes in my size. Nothing in Genesis is truly gender specific unless you make it so yourself.
Design inspiration comes from everything and everyone around me as cliché as that sounds. I have been known to ask strangers if I can take a picture of them if they have an interesting colour combo or logo about their person, although I think my other half will say I spend far too much time looking at classic race cars, old Volkswagens and motorcycles…. Pinterest and instagram get a good daily ogle too as well as visits to a few trade shows and events.
Firstly I receive a range plan from the product team from which I can see how many of each model there will be, any new models and any that are due to be discontinued. This list will also contain any custom or prototype models that are due as well as the team and sponsored athlete bikes. Once I have this I can start planning my timeline and liaise with our factory to set deadlines and the order in which they need the artwork. Some model lines within the range need much more time than others once they leave me so it’s best to get those out first.
At this point naming new models and subsequent logo designs start as well as any re-designs of existing model logos I feel need a refresh. I will then either receive a proto-frame or sometimes just the mechanical frame drawing from our engineer so I can see the surfaces and lines I have to work with. From here the initial ideas process starts which begins with some good old fashion research. I have a mountain of images, inspiration and other various design based goodies I have collected over the years and add to frequently throughout the process, so once I have looked into upcoming trends that appear to be taking hold within the market I collate them all into various folders and refer back to them at regular intervals.
In my experience there is no better way to see if a potential design works that to work directly on to a dummy bike, so set about drawing shapes and rough graphics onto blank frames to work out sizes and volumes across the available sizes. I’ll come up with between 3 and 10 initial ideas depending on the model that I will discuss with the other Genesis guys in house before finalising a concept. Sometimes you nail it in design 1 sometimes its design 10, version 9 etc. The chosen final concept is then mocked up as a complete graphics package that the factory can translate to their working methods and the fun really begins.
Once this is finished I can begin on the minefield that is colour. The design is mocked up in multiple colourways and some internal and selected external market research is performed to see if what I have chosen based on my research tallys with what potential customers think. After this we normally have a package ready to send to the factory and on to sampling a real bike. We win some and we lose some but I think on the whole I have managed to provide Genesis with some very interesting graphics and colourways to suit our customer base and help us stand out and evolve in a very saturated market.
Day One SS, Croix De Fer Titanium, Equilibrium Disc 931, Custom Datum Di2, Latitude, Scott Genius 900 SL, Scott Super Sub and a Saracen Kili Flyer… And they all get ridden regularly.
There is no secret way in it the industry, it can simply come down to grafting away in your own time and grabbing opportunities when they arise. Most designers I know are lucky in that their job is also their hobby which can make life a lot easier. In terms of tips… well, keep an eye on trends, trust your instincts and believe in your own ability. Don’t take (fair), criticism to heart and remember everyone likes to believe they are a designer and remember design is completely subjective.
We will have to see, we can’t give all our secrets for the future away. I hope we can become innovators in terms of bike design and personally want to push the boundaries and blur the lines of commercially acceptable colours. I would like to give Genesis that custom/niche bike feel whilst still being a commercial bicycle company. There is no need for a bike to always be black or white.
Blue apart from on Saturdays when it’s Green (because, Plymouth Argyle obviously)