The Songailo story
Very rarely do you see artwork that stops you in your tracks and makes your heart skip a beat, but that’s what happened almost a decade ago while I was working in a local Restaurant lipitor weight gain. Nearly 9 years ago I worked in a local restaurant called Mantra. The owner would regularly have local artists display their works on the walls and walking in for shift one day I was confronted by a series of strikingly colourful paintings by artist Sam Songailo.. At that moment I was intrigued and frankly a bit smitten with them.
Fast forward almost a decade later. The Restaurant long gone, myself starting a new career as a frame builder and Sam still producing amazing work, just now on a much larger scale. It wasn’t long after I started building a couple of years ago that I had the thought of having Sam paint one of my bikes. Not knowing him and the fact that he lived interstate made the prospect seem largely unachievable, but as most good ideas come to fruition after a couple of beers and speaking to a mutual friend of ours, she convinced me that he would be keen. So I drafted an email for what seemed like hours and pressed send. To my surprise, sam responded with “At this stage I am not sure, however if I come up with something I really like (and you also like) then yes I think we should do it!”
The next step was which bike to paint? Luckily I was nearing completion of Hamish from Treadly Bike Store’s CX frame. Hamish is just the right amount of fruity and could definitely pull off riding such a bike. So initially we had a blue and silver fade in mind, but after showing Hamish a few shots of Sam’s work and explaining my idea the words “yes, do it!’ shot from his mouth.
Luckily Sam came up with an idea and we all liked it. So twisting his arm a little, he agreed to do it. Initially Sam agreed to paint the frame himself, but as he usually paints large installation pieces he quickly realised that painting a bike might be a little more intricate than first thought.. As Sam is a bit of a perfectionist we decided that he would just do the design and I would have my usual painter lay down the enamel.
Sam’s original concept
So with free reign Sam came up with a rough design and I came up with a plan of attack. The plan was that my painter would lay a white base coat on the frame. From there I would construct a suspension box ensuring the frame doesn’t rub while in transit and we would post to Sam in Melbourne for the design work.
Suspension box ready to ship with cardboard outer
With the frame received in one piece, Sam set about taping the frame up with the design. The original concept was exactly that and with the frame in hand Sam laid down the design purely by eye and hand. Working in a very organic way Sam creates his mechanical designs purely by eye, never measuring and compensating for perceived inconsistencies as he goes.
Masked and ready for paint
A week later the frame was re-boxed and sent back to the painters. Here is where it gets complicated! Usually when you mask off graphics the bike goes straight in the spray booth and all is fine. As the bike was in transit for a few days the tape had began to lift and while Daniel, (my painter) did his best to pin the tape down upon starting to spray it would lift. The end result was a lot of bleed with the black and the green into the white. So over the next few days Daniel hand retouched all the bleed areas before adding 3 layers of clear coat.
Back from paint
The frame finally in my hands at first my heart sank a little as the paint wasn’t as crisp and perfect as I had hoped. However the more I looked at the inconsistencies the more I loved it and the more Sam’s words of “imperfections are dynamic while perfection is sterile” rang through my head. The details were phenomenal, especially around the bottom bracket and the nuances helped to portray that this is a hand made, hand painted custom frame. So finishing it off with colour coded Tune parts, Enve carbon and the awesome Curve rims the bike turned out truly striking. I am super happy that Sam agreed to apply his skills and the fact that Hamish trusted my vision. What makes me the happiest however is seeing Hamish ride it on local trails and CX races. After all it is a bike and is meant to be ridden and enjoyed, not hung on a wall or wrapped in cotton wool.
Post CX race