Nick Sawyers: Fusing BMX and Art Passions Together

BMX rider and artist Nick Sawyers spray paints a new piece
© Justin Kosman/Red Bull

Nick Sawyers designed the graphic kit for Mike 'Hucker' Clark's signature frame and much, much more.

My first impression of artist Nick Sawyers was made when Mike ‘Hucker’ Clark showed up at Bundy trails and the outrageous sticker graphics on his new signature frame caught my eye. Cartoon dolphins, sharks and snakes all partying on the beach, drawn in bright colors -- it was more reminiscent of an old World Industries board graphic than a BMX frame sticker kit. When I saw the Markit Zero video cover recently, I knew it was drawn by the same guy for sure.

We ran into each other at The Hunt premiere and talked about riding pools in East County; Nick is a BMX rider, no doubt about it, and his passion for drawing shows through in the details of his artwork. Learn more about this artist/rider in the interview below.

BMX rider and artist Nick Sawyers' take on the S&M Bikes logo and Jar Jar Stinks
Hucker frame S&M logo and Jar Jar Stinks piece© Justin Kosman/Red Bull

redbull.com: What's the latest project you illustrated?

Nick Sawyers: I was doing concept art and Illustration on the daily for a game/website studio but it’s mostly under NDA so I can't really share much there. I did do a piece recently for an art show called "99 Deaths of Jar Jar," based around killing Jar Jar Binks, the worst character ever. I illustrated a death by a chainsaw-wielding tentacle monster, who was dumping gas on his head in a porta-potty. I’m not super into Star Wars but it was a fun project nonetheless.

BMX rider and artist Nick Sawyers' take on the S&M Bikes logo
Hucker's S&M frame graphics by Nick Sawyers© Justin Kosman/Red Bull

Tell us about working with Hucker on his S&M frame graphics.

It was super fun working with Hucker on his kit. We were already friends from Sheep Hills [trails] and it was cool to hook him up with some rad artwork for his first signature frame with S&M. He produced this crazy list of stuff he wanted on his stickers, like California burritos, blazed dolphins, cougars, mullets, dirt jumps, and more. With a list like that it’s hard to go wrong, so I just put it all together with an ‘80s vibe. I was probably as stoked as Hucker was on the end result.

BMX rider and artist Nick Sawyers illustrated the Markit Zero DVD cover
Nick Sawyers' work on the Markit Zero DVD cover© Justin Kosman/Red Bull

What gave you the idea for the Markit DVD with all the guys flying out of the RV?

Dennis [Enarson] came up with the idea for the front and back ends of the Markit RV to be the front and back covers of the DVD. We wanted it to have a movie poster feel with a ton of stuff going on so you could keep looking at it and finding new stuff. I drew them launching off a huge stair set because I figured there would be a whole lot of that going on in the video.

BMX rider and artist Nick Sawyers illustrated the Markit Zero DVD cover
Nick Sawyers© Courtesy of Nick Sawyers

What is your process? Pencil and paper first, then refine with pen? When does it get converted to digital and enhanced on the PC?

Every project is different, but I usually start from a sketch to keep everything as original as possible, type faces and all. I like to dial it in with ink if there’s a ton of details or if time allows. Then scan it in and start vectoring everything.

BMX rider and artist Nick Sawyers illustrated these t-shirt designs for Boicott BMX
Boicott pieces by Nick Sawyers© Justin Kosman/Red Bull

What was / is your affiliation with the Boicott events?

Boicott is all about good times and BMX. My buddy Ryan Davis is behind it and is a great designer too. I've done a few Boicott shirts; we do small runs mainly to hook the homies up with some rad shirts.

They've been doing jams up in Canada for years but the first jam in California was out at Slab City a few years ago. We built a bunch of sketchy ramps out of pallets in the massive Olympic pool, got it sponsored by Colt45, had a Misfits cover band, and about 200 people showed up. It was the definition of a shit-show.

BMX rider and artist Nick Sawyers illustrated this chainsaw gopher piece
Chainsaw gopher by Nick Sawyers© Justin Kosman/Red Bull

What were your influences when you first started drawing? It seems like there is some heavy-metal-mayhem influence in there and maybe some comic book themes.

When I was a kid I was all about dinosaurs, then those evolved into metal skulls and such. I saw a GWAR VHS one day and it blew my mind. I have a degree in Industrial Design too, so I really geek out on car renderings and dialed marker work, having done tons of it. Lately I've just been mixing things up -- good type, good composition, good line work -- just making things super solid and fun to look at.

BMX rider and artist Nick Sawyers illustrated this T-Rex Indian mash-up mural
Nick Sawyers artwork: T-Rex Indian mash-up© Justin Kosman/Red Bull

What are some of your favorite pieces you've done recently?

I spray-painted this big T-Rex Indian mash-up behind the Chronic Taco here in Long Beach. It's off a sticker design I did and it turned out super good. Working on a large-scale piece has a different kind of satisfaction about it.

What are you looking forward to doing in the future; do you have any projects on your bucket list?

I got laid off from my full-time gig because the company went bust, so that frees up a little bit of time for projects. After doing mainly concept art for a couple of years I'm really looking forward to using this time to push some solid stuff into production, whether with clients, friends or on my own with Sawyers Supplies.

I have plans to illustrate some books with a friend of mine, do more T-shirts and hang-on-the-wall-type art, and spray paint whenever I can. I hope to learn new skills, perfect old ones and just do whatever I can to make rad stuff across the board.

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