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Interview: Artist Scott Dickson

Pinkbike Interview

  • Scott Dickson
  • Scott Dickson
  • Scott Dickson
Nelson, B.C., artist Scott Dickson has illustrated the covers of most of the legendary 'New World Disorder' film series, including the upcoming 'Brandon Semenuk's Rad Company.'

We caught up with Dickson as he was building a new trail behind his house to talk about the roots of his relationship with NWD, the iconic pieces of mountain bike art he's created, and how that legacy will continue with the new film.

How did your relationship with the New World Disorder series begin?
A mutual friend of ours, [Carey] Bokser, was friends with everyone in town and introduced me to Derek "Big D" Westerlund [NWD series founder]. When I first moved here in 1996, he was already living here.

What was your background in art at that point in time?
I’d always enjoyed drawing, My family encouraged me [and] it was a big part of my life. I started selling art in grade six or seven. I’d done it on the side as a teenager as a part-time job, then I went to art school, and moved west after that. I drew a lot of band posters and had a good word-of-mouth reputation that kept me busy drawing.

When Big D came to you for the first NWD cover, did he know what he wanted?
He knew exactly what he wanted, but gave me a lot of free license. It’s really cool working with him because he gives you strong direction but then trusts you to play with it. It was really cool that he wanted to invest that much in the cover; he could have just run a photo. He had tons of little scenarios he wanted but then I was encouraged to add as much stuff as I could to bring his ideas to life. A busy cover like that is fun. I was influenced by Johannes Gysbert Vogel, a Flemish artist that paints small people in big landscapes with tons of scenarios going on. I was into perspective at the time and I tried to make it all flat, with a Japanese influence. That was the challenge: To show perspective with flat pictures.

Did you ever think it would lead to ten covers?
Wow, who knows? My vision was only the next bike ride at the time [laughter]. If someone had said that, I wouldn’t have disbelieved them, but… it was a blossoming time in my life. Anything was possible.

Do you have a favorite cover in the series?
Each one was a mission. Almost a vision quest. I like ‘em all. The 'Smack Down' one. The last one ['Dust & Bones'], 'Flying High Again,' and 'Ride the Lightning.' The one with Darren Berrecloth doing the 360… the drawing wasn’t as strong but it was raw. l love them all, man. It’s been fun being a part of the NWD legacy.

How many hours did you put into each?
I would say between 40-100 hours. That’s a testament to my lack of skill [laughter]. I should be faster.

What tools do you use?
I use the blue pencil and black drafting markers over top, with Sharpies. The blue would get waxy, though, because I’m not the most clean drawer. So then I got into the 6H pencil, always on paper. Then the same markers, the Staedtlers: Super fine, fine, medium, then a Sharpie. I used so much liquid paper because I was a little bit loose. I did a few that were straight pencil, and then went to Photoshop. I’d draw then scan… color it on the computer. I think I even colored a few with my mouse [laughter] -- click, click, click.

How about the newest artwork for Brandon Semenuk’s Rad Company -- was it the same this time around?
Same treatment, but it’s more of a distilled image. Same feeling and everything, but newer and simpler. Not a million little characters. It’s more metaphoric. It's more of a haiku than an epic.The image was a result of a collaborative process between Brandon Semenuk, Red Bull Media House, NWD Films, and myself -- with me acting more as an instrument to bring the ideas to life.

Of course I was encouraged to add my own touches, like the shape of the logo, the grass in the concrete and the twisting of the cables as they run around from the back of the DVD box. The grass and decay of the manmade objects represent how the natural flow of nature (bike riding) will always triumph and the cables and sign represent how each of us cut a line down the mountain in our own way and then collect again at the bottom to bask in the glow of the ride!

This art is an homage to the great street artists of our time, especially the incomparable Banksy. Banksy's art has become iconic and I think the street-level, take-the-power-into-your-own-hands message of his images reflect a sensibility that may suit Brandon's current state of mind. You would have to ask Brandon about that to be sure but in my opinion the style and metaphor of street art, especially Banksy's double entendre, thought-provoking pieces, are similar to the impression you are left with after meeting Brandon or watching him ride -- that even though what you are seeing looks so smooth and simple the overall effect on you is that there is much more going on than is visible on the surface. Like that saying: Still waters run deep.

Have you had a chance to see the film?
Early on I got to see some of the segments. I’m stoked. It’s so amazing. Really, really cool stuff.
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