Process of Process: The New Albion Cycles Badge

GH 4to convertRecently, I had the privilege to work with Mary Sales, Jim Porter, and Stanley Pun of the Merry Sales Company, the Bay Area distributor that co-founded SOMA Fabrications.

Jim contacted me to design the head badge for a new line of lugged bicycles. Merry Sales Company will distribute these bicycles under the brand New Albion Cycles. New Albion Cycles is a separate, sister brand to SOMA. It debuts in the US later this year.

The inspiration for the image on the badge is Sir Francis Drakes’s ship, The Golden Hind.

A bit of history . . .

In 1579, Sir Francis Drake explored the coastline off the San Francisco Bay and Marin Headlands. Drake claimed the territory for the Royal Crown, and named it New Albion. Albion is the ancient name of the British Isles. (Drake had to get creative with names because “New England”  had already been claimed by the colonies on the Atlantic.) The Merry Sales Company is based in the SF Bay Area. Hence, the geographical connection and interest in the history of this region.

First, I have to review images of the ship to determine the best angle and design style. Google Images is the illustrator’s friend.


New Albion blog image 1

The Marin Headlands, the site where Drake landed, is an important element in the artwork.


New albion blog image 2



The Process:

We narrowed it down to two ship designs: A and B.


blog a and b



Next, I did a number of versions and revisions, to determine the placement of the ship, the importance of the Headlands, and the appropriate type font. At this stage, we had not yet determined the shape of the badge. I personally like 19th century graphics and commercial posters. As an art movement, Arts and Crafts emphasizes the handmade. It is fitting for a traditional, lugged frame, and so I suggested a few type faces that reflect the Arts and Crafts movement. It was a good time to introduce different badge shapes, geometric and otherwise.



blog variations on a image 3

New albion blog variations on B 4




They chose Ship B for its taller, more elegant shape; we agreed it fit best in the oval shape.

Jim wanted the word CYCLE in a scroll below the ship.

Once the final line art was determined, it was a matter of choosing colors. The more colors, the more intricate the fabrication process becomes –  and the more expensive it is to produce the badge. We worked within those restrictions.

I tried a few color combinations, using the brass color of the metal to outline the colors.



blog New Albion color variations


We settled on this color scheme.


blog final color choice




The badge will be produced in six colors with three layers of relief. These diagrams indicate to the fabricator the appropriate color placement, and how the client wants the relief to be organized.



Blog, the three layers



Once the badge is produced, I’ll show it – hopefully on the head tube of a New Albion bicycle.


UPDATE 02.05.13

Stan just sent the first prototype. Here it is:

send blog New Albion badge fabricated

6 Responses to “Process of Process: The New Albion Cycles Badge”

  1. Wow Karl,
    Another beauty – and so nice to see your
    description of the process you go through.
    Thanks for sharing.
    You do amazing and beautiful work!

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  2. Mike Dayton says:

    Mr. K, fantastic stuff. I liked the adventure along the way to the final design. Mike

  3. Sam J says:

    Excellent post. I’ll have to thank Jim Langley for pointing it out on Facebook. For me, this is the kind of process article that really cements the value of a product–any product, bicycle or otherwise. Because I always like to know something about the work and the people behind the things I use, or contemplate using.

    That’s one reason I’m a fan of handmade frames: the individuals behind those frames often have more compelling stories to share than the corporations who offload production to contract manufacturers. Not that there’s anything wrong with that; maybe the people who buy carbon fiber frames appreciate that style of construction over the ability of the company to spin a tale.

    The fact that the final output is also drop-dead gorgeous is a huge plus. And your head badge is certainly that.

  4. George S. says:

    What a fascinating process. Thanks for sharing it with all of us. The final product is gorgeous.

  5. I’m so happy this page got “outed” on the Classic Rendezvous listserv. This is a really great outline of the design process, the thinking that goes into a graphic and the way development evolves as a natural give and take between artist and client. As a former designer and illustrator myself I spent many a year engaged in similar developmental pursuits. Now, as a professor of design and illustration I enjoy introducing this often very elusive concept of developmental progression to students. Now I’ll be sharing your page with them next week!

  6. greg arnold says:

    Stunning work – very well designed – hurray.
    Wish more artisanship like this still existed in our digi world.
    Whats the rest of the frame look like?!

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