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Ink Your Ride 

How local graphic designers are trying to make your bike a little bit cooler

click to enlarge Mara Fields and David van Wert invented a new way to jazz up your bike. - STEPHEN SCHALNGE
  • Stephen Schalnge
  • Mara Fields and David van Wert invented a new way to jazz up your bike.

Smack in the middle of Browne’s Addition, coffee is brewing on a glistening kitchen countertop in a seemingly ordinary apartment. This is not only home to Mara Fields and David van Wert, but the headquarters for their graphic design company, Pixel & Pint.

Fields, a native Spokanite, designs graphics while van Wert designs websites. The duo has focused on selling posters online and offering graphic design services to mostly local bars in town, until recently when Fields came home with a new, plain white around-town bike.

She wanted to spruce up the all-white ride, seeing it as a blank canvas of sorts. Fields looked into purchasing bike decals because she “just really wanted it to be unique,” but only found mountain biking decals with extreme sports slogans like “Girls Get Dirty Too.” On the other end of the spectrum, other decals were girly or overly “cutesy.” Fields wanted something that would encompass her aesthetic, so she set out designing her own images, experimenting with different materials.

About two months later, Tube Tats was born.

“It was already getting to be more of a project than just, ‘Hey I’m going to make this real quick, slap it on my bike,’ and I started to think about maybe I should add this to my online store that I already have. Maybe this would be something that other people would be into,” Fields says.

Fields and van Wert settled on a vinyl base material that would survive the elements — but however durable the decal, it could still be removed if desired.

“I definitely was thinking of it as a temporary tattoo for your bike. Something you can put on and take off, and unlike a real tattoo, it’s not permanent,” Fields says.

Before they could sell Tube Tats, they needed to refine the product. The hobby knife Fields had been using to cut designs caused the product to come out with jagged or frayed ends. She needed a plotter cutter, a machine that could cut Fields’ designs to perfection, but they couldn’t afford one. So they turned to Kickstarter, the online fundraising vehicle, to upgrade their equipment and take Tube Tats from an idea to an actual business.

Weeks after the Tube Tats video went live, more than 30 backers have donated and the funding goal has been long surpassed — and not without turning some heads. Public Bikes, a San Francisco-based bike company, is impressed by the fledgling business.

“They basically contacted me and said that they would love to share this on their Twitter and Facebook. And the next paragraph [of an email] just kind of blew me away. It was like, ‘How would you feel about teaming up with Public Bikes and releasing a special edition for us to use on our bikes? ’” Fields says.

Fields and van Wert are excited to start talks with the company about the design. So far, Tube Tats’ images consist of cassette tapes, forest critters, a ribbon design and nautical decals, as well as super-simple geometric shapes in bright colors that you can arrange as you like. Fields already has more in mind for the future.

“It is definitely appealing to the indie music — ‘hipster’, if you want to go there — crowd,” Fields says, “It’s hitting that niche market. I haven’t seen anything else that has really done that.”

Learn more about Tube Tats at pixelandpint.com

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