Bicycles in Illustration


In Year 10 art class, one project set by our teacher was to render a part of a bicycle using black biro. If you’ve ever done an exercise like that, you’ll know how many details comprise a bike.

When illustrating bicycles, then, it’s often a matter of simplifying the machine, lest the entire image become a technical drawing of a bicycle which unhelpfully foregrounds the bicycle itself.

How have artists depicted bicycles in illustration (or not)? Below are some examples spanning decades, including a number of different styles of bike.

The Pedalling Palludinis, Illustration by Edward Gorey from 'The Broken Spoke', 1976. Dodd, Mead and Company. New York
The Pedalling Palludinis, Illustration by Edward Gorey from ‘The Broken Spoke’, 1976. Dodd, Mead and Company. New York
American Crescent Cycles poster, 1899 by Frederick Winthrop Ramsdell
American Crescent Cycles poster, 1899 by Frederick Winthrop Ramsdell
Edward St. John Gorey
The Saturday Evening Post for August 16, 1941, cover by Douglass Crockwell (1904-1968)
J&P Coats advertisement, 1880s
Victorian Christmas card owls at night on bikes
Where Have You Been by Margaret Wise Brown with illustrations by Barbara Cooney, 1952 bicycle
Quasimodo Mouse Bernard Stone Ralph Steadman 1984
Arthur Getz 1954
Victorian Christmas card rabbits on bicycles
Turin, 1900
Turin, 1900
1934 The Saturday Evening Post Magazine April 28 cover art
‘Super Champion Fausto Coppi’ Cover by Walter Molino, 1953
Gino Bartali, the King of the Mountain’ Cover illustrator not found, 1938 bicycle
Adrian Allinson (1890-1959)
Adrian Allinson (1890-1959). Allinson painted this for a 1950s British Railway poster promoting rail services to the East Sussex coast of England. Those are the chalk cliffs at Beachy Head in Eastbourne. You can also see Beachy Head Lighthouse.
Roads of Minsk Region, painting by Viktor Versotsky, USSR, 1971
Woman practising cutting off a head while riding a bicycle
The Open Road For Boys Magazine Get Going With Baby Ruth bicycle
The Open Road For Boys Magazine Get Going With Baby Ruth
by Anton Franciscus Pieck (19 April 1895 – 24 November 1987)
Brothers of the Wheel by F.C. Patterson from A Night In The Woods and Other Tales and Sketches
Brothers of the Wheel by F.C. Patterson from A Night In The Woods and Other Tales and Sketches
Kathleen Hale illustration of Marmalade the Orange Cat on a bicycle with other cats
Suffolk author & illustrator Kathleen Hale, Orlando the Marmalade Cat
Charles A Cox illustration of young women on a bicycle with multiple seats
Charles A. Cox poster for Bearings (1896)
'Il Giro d'Italia' Cover by Walter Molino, 1959
‘Il Giro d’Italia’ Cover by Walter Molino, 1959
'The 43rd Giro d'Italia' Back cover by Walter Molino, 1960
‘The 43rd Giro d’Italia’ Back cover by Walter Molino, 1960
Jean Helion 'Au cycliste' 1939
Jean Helion ‘Au cycliste’ 1939
DYDO FAIL LE TOUR (1950) Durane (André Durst)
WALTER MARTIN BAUMHOFER
WALTER MARTIN BAUMHOFER
Garrett Price (American, 1897-1979) 1942
Garrett Price (American, 1897-1979) 1942
Innocence on the bicycle of propriety, Illustration by Edward Gorey from ‘The Broken Spoke’, 1976. Dodd, Mead and Company. New York
‘They and I’ Cover by Sergio Burzi, 1924. One way to avoid the problem of bicycle mechanics is to leave it off the page.
Summer of Night by Dan Simmons Russian edition cover
Summer of Night by Dan Simmons Russian edition cover
Boy's Life by Robert McCammon bicycle
Tom Fobble’s Day by Alan Garner and Michael Foreman, 1977-bicycle
Tom Fobble’s Day by Alan Garner and Michael Foreman, 1977

Joey is the first ever picture book about the young life of Joe Biden, the 47th Vice President of the United States, and includes never before told family stories about the president-elect and former vice president’s childhood—written by Jill Biden, his spouse.

Joe Biden grew up in Scranton, Pennsylvania, the oldest of four children. His parents always encouraged him and his siblings to be independent and strong. The family moved to Wilmington, Delaware, where at twenty-nine, Biden was elected one the youngest United States Senators ever elected. This is his story.

Edward Penfield (1866 – 1925) 1895 Orient Cycles
Edward Penfield (1866 – 1925) 1895 Orient Cycles
Cycles Gladiator by Georges Massias
1917
Boccasile, 1935 (Vigorelli Municipal Velodrome, Milan)
Boccasile, 1935 (Vigorelli Municipal Velodrome, Milan)
Boccasile, circa 1940
Boccasile, circa 1940
Ballerio, circa 1900, with the Cathedral of Milan in the background
Turista Ideals Velosipeda
Turista Ideals Velosipeda

Stranger Things meets Invasion of the Body Snatchers in this thrilling sci-fi adventure from bestselling author Dan Smith.

Nancy’s parents are acting weird. Their eyes are blank, they won’t eat – it’s like they’re no longer themselves. Pete and Krish are obsessed with unexplained phenomena and when they offer to help Nancy investigate, they’re sure they can crack the case. But the deeper the trio dig, the darker the mystery gets …Crooked Oak is under attack from a dangerous foe, and they’re the only ones who can stop it.

Ib Spang Olsen illustration from LARS PETERS CYKEL (1968) early recumbent bike
Ib Spang Olsen illustration from LARS PETERS CYKEL (1968) early recumbent bike
Johnny Gruelle, Illustration for Raggedy Ann’s Magical Wishes, 1928
Johnny Gruelle, Illustration for Raggedy Ann’s Magical Wishes, 1928
The Chewing-Gum Rescue, 1982’s collection of all-new, long and short stories, illustrated by Jan Ormerod written by Margaret Mahy
The Chewing-Gum Rescue, 1982’s collection of all-new, long and short stories, illustrated by Jan Ormerod written by Margaret Mahy
Circus Toads Vis a Vis, 1962, Jan Kuiper
Circus Toads Vis a Vis, 1962, Jan Kuiper
The Greedy Little Cobbler by Tony Ross, Arrow Books Ltd, London 1988 bicycle
The Greedy Little Cobbler by Tony Ross, Arrow Books Ltd, London 1988 bicycle
Jean Jacques Sempe 1979 bicycle
Jean Jacques Sempe 1979
Goodrich Bicycle Tires advert by Norman Rockwell bicycle towards
Goodrich Bicycle Tires advert by Norman Rockwell
Girl on bike by Charles Blackman-1953
Girl on bike by Charles Blackman-1953
What Do You Teach a Boy of Twelve, 1955 by Norman Rockwell bicycle
What Do You Teach a Boy of Twelve, 1955 by Norman Rockwell

It’s 1964 in idyllic Zephyr, Alabama. People either work for the paper mill up the Tecumseh River, or for the local dairy. It’s a simple life, but it stirs the impressionable imagination of twelve-year-old aspiring writer Cory Mackenson. He’s certain he’s sensed spirits whispering in the churchyard. He’s heard of the weird bootleggers who lurk in the dark outside of town. He’s seen a flood leave Main Street crawling with snakes. Cory thrills to all of it as only a young boy can.

Then one morning, while accompanying his father on his milk route, he sees a car careen off the road and slowly sink into fathomless Saxon’s Lake. His father dives into the icy water to rescue the driver, and finds a beaten corpse, naked and handcuffed to the steering wheel—a copper wire tightened around the stranger’s neck. In time, the townsfolk seem to forget all about the unsolved murder. But Cory and his father can’t.

A Dragon in a Wagon by Janette Rainwater, illustrated by John Martin Gilbert (1973) bicycle
A Dragon in a Wagon by Janette Rainwater, illustrated by John Martin Gilbert (1973). Technically a unicycle.
by Remedios Varo, Difficult Roads, 1957
by Remedios Varo, Difficult Roads, 1957
VIENE L’AUTUNNO (1978)
OP WEG NAAR DE MAAN (1960) Ted Schaap. If you can't be bothered drawing a bicycle, maybe stick with a scooter.
OP WEG NAAR DE MAAN (1960) Ted Schaap. If you can’t be bothered drawing a bicycle, maybe stick with a scooter.
Arkady Sher
Arkady Sher
Lemon girl young adult novella

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