You may have noticed that the Grand Junction Rides & Vibes mountain bike race and downtown music festival has a completely new look this year. We worked with designer TJ Smith to completely reimagine the brand for the event. In his own words, read how TJ developed the new look and what inspired the design:

It all started at the age of 4 on the two wheels attached to a 16inch Kent BMX. A few years later I was twisting the throttle just as much as I was pedaling. Dirtbikes, and biking in general, is a passion of my father’s that was passed to me and became a regular Sunday outing. I thank him for possessing a desire and patience to share that love of bikes with me for a lifelong pursuit of fun in the outdoors. Fast forward through endless days of digging dirt to make jumps. Sundays pungent from the smell of a 2-stroke and bloody shins from all those foot slips and you have a dude that knows the life of a good ride. Both moto and pedal.

I believe it was that background and my artistic style that led to Brandon Stam thinking of me  when Ben Synder needed a designer for the rebrand of Junction’s classic mountain bike and music festival. Formally known as The GJ Offroad. 

Like many projects this one started with a branding need, that opens a conversation that results in hairbrain ideas that eventually lands a visual language. An experience told through the expression of color, shape, typography, texture and illustration. A brand that speaks to its audience with familiarity and engagement.

Haha, I’ll say the first major development was rethinking the name. At first the event was called Grand Junction’s Mountain Bike and Music Festival. Descriptive yes, but one hell of a mouthful. And could you imagine that URL, aha? Honestly, the naming process was quick. All it took was my buddy, Dave Goe, popping into my gallery one morning to say hello. Naturally we talked on the future event and expressed our concerns with the name. I said something like rides and he instinctively added vibes. Probably his music background ;). Before we knew it we just tag teamed the name Rides & Vibes. The rest was to come and that part is my favorite.

Hit the hill with 70’s coloring, Saul Bass inspired illustration styles and a font family right off an 80’s motocross jersey and you have yourself a Rides & Vibes brand language. Visuals that speak of the technical landscape blanketing Grand Junction. The almost geometric, shiny sheared rock formations that pull a riders gaze from the trail. Watch out for that cactus, ahah! Overall the rebrand evokes stoke. It’s taking the feelings one has when skidding down hairpin turns through canyon walls or grooving your body to the beat of that loud bass drum and transforming it into visuals, into a brand language that communicates the essence of the event. Design work like this, where the project aligns with my history or passions and is experiential, is top tear favorite. My best work is produced with those alignments and the freedom to create all the pieces. From the logo to the website to social posts and a sticker. All speaking the same language and a part of the same family. Maybe a couple weird uncles, but still the same blood.   

Though, I regret to say my days atop two wheels are not to the frequency they once were, I still love a good ride and pull from those past experiences when a creation is needed from that realm. Many thanks to all involved in this rebrand and the community at large for supporting a new Junction staple event. 

To see more art & design from TJ visit him at his gallery or on Instagram at @whatuptj