Meet Flyer Artist Lydia Roberts

I don't know about you, but I pretty much flipped out when I saw the final flyer artwork for Over And Out, drawn by artist Lydia Roberts aka @lydiarobotica. I've always loved the artistic vibe of punk and hardcore flyers, or skate art with an east-coast edge. I wanted to bring that vibe into Over And Out, and when I discovered Lydia's work I knew i had the right girl.

This post is a bit longer, but it's worth it!  Not only is Lydia an amazing artist (and a girl who rides motorcycles), she was able to explain her artistic process in such a fun, interesting way! Read on to learn more about Lydia and see photos of the flyer process from start to finish!

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Lydia Roberts - Brooklyn, NY - @lydiarobotica

Kawasaki KLX140L, 2003 Suzuki SV650S

LET'S DIVE RIGHT IN HERE....THE FLYER YOU DID FOR OAO IS JUST AMAZING! CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR LIFE AS AN ARTIST? 

Thanks so much! It was a ton of fun to work on this flyer. I love doing hand lettering and I love drawing bikes, so getting to combine the two was awesome. Plus it's for a sick event, so that's even better! 

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I am a freelance artist who lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. I do illustration for the most part, but I love working in a ton of different mediums and techniques. I tend to get a little antsy when I do any one thing too long. If I do comics too much, I want to paint, and vice versa.

 Artwork by Lydia Roberts @lydiarobotica

Artwork by Lydia Roberts @lydiarobotica

Lately I've been finishing working on a sci-fi graphic novel with Jessica Abel called Trish Trash: RollerGirl of Mars, I do layouts and the background art for it, as well as a bunch of world design, vehicles included! But that's been going on a while now, so it will be nice to finish that up and start some new projects.

HOW DID YOU NURTURE YOUR ARTISTIC TALENTS?

At some point in middle school I realized art was probably what I was best at. I had always drawn and painted, but I really started focusing in on art to the slight neglect of the rest of my schoolwork haha. I kept sketchbooks over the years, worked on random paintings and drawings, did some flyers for local bands and events. 

I was living in Albuquerque at the time, and for school we went to an art show in Santa Fe called "Our Grotesque". It was a crazy range of art dealing with weirdness, sculptures, paintings, drawings, animations. and comic books. I had never seen "adult comics" before, things created solely for a weird twisted purpose instead of a squeaky clean superhero or newspaper comic. After that, I started reading comics and borrowing them from friends, trying to make a few of my own. This was what led me to go to school in New York City at The School of Visual Arts. They were and still are one of the few accredited colleges to offer a Cartooning degree, so I got my BFA in Cartooning and Illustration.

 Artwork by Lydia Roberts @lydiarobotica

Artwork by Lydia Roberts @lydiarobotica

Since then, I've worked on comic books, storyboards for commercials, freelance illustrations, T-shirt designs, painting commissions...all sorts of randomness. For a few years I did pin-striping and filigree decorative painting in a mini-mansion being restored on the Upper West Side in Manhattan, lots of murals, painting things gold, painting ceilings and moulding.

Over the last couple years I've been trying to make a drawing a day, partly as an exercise to myself that I don't obsess over a piece and partly to try to get my speed up. 

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WHAT WAS THE PROCESS LIKE, CREATING THIS FLYER? 

First, I draw ideas in my sketchbook, trying to get some loose images worked out. With flyers like this, or really any illustration involving text, I write out all the information that is needed to see what space it takes up, arranging them by importance and size. Sometimes things I thought would work turn out to be too crammed or awkward. It's like playing with puzzle pieces at this step and figuring out how all the elements fit together. 

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Next, I start the pencils and do a first pass of super wispy sketchy pencils by massing in words and figures, making sure everything fits, tweaking sizes and placement as I go.  I usually keep it loose initially because there can be course adjustments that happen during the first pass. Once everything seems to be flowing and fitting correctly I begin fleshing things out and dedicating to the pencils. 

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This stage is interesting because there are tons of guides and a bunch of under drawing lines that help me execute the final inks, but don't actually show up in the final image. As one of my old art teachers put it, "Pencils are where you make all your mistakes and explore your choices, inks are the the final selection you lock down." With heavy technical drawings like this, I try to do really tight pencils. Lettering and machinery are usually what I try to do the crispest pencils on and this flyer has tons of both, so this stage took a bit of time! 

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For the riders that are all over the place I tried to use a bunch of reference photos- especially because there's no faking machinery. Some of the riders are from the overandoutmoto.com blog ;) while others are from enduro riders I follow on Instagram, so there are some secret cameos going on I guess! 

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At long last I begin the inks! It always seems exciting after slaving over the pencils, although once I begin I'm reminded of how scary inks can be because you start feeling the finality. It's funny how much your mind can mess with you when you have "the one chance to do it right". With something like hand lettering its sort of a masochistic, tedious process. However, despite these lurking thoughts inking is awesome because all that pencilling was worth it. Your pathway is laid out and you're not second-guessing yourself half as much as you would with loose pencils.

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Once I get all of the inks done with the nib, I get to do an extremely satisfying thing and erase all those smudgy pencils and under drawings! Generally I don't bother with much of the spot black and shadows or thicker linework that I do with a brush until after erasing. Also, something VERY important and easily forgotten: Wait for the ink to dry before you erase. Sounds simple, but there are so many times I jumped the gun out of impatience and smeared wet ink across the entire picture! So I do my best to be patient.

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I used watercolor paper for this so it could handle the ink-washes without warping or doing strange things. If you don't tape it down/stretch it, it doesn't matter too much, you'll just have to sepnd a long time flattening it with tons of heavy books. Since this is an event flyer, I had to make sure I kept the emphasis on the information.  I thought about doing a limited palette, but ended up deciding on wanting to keep that realistic summery vibe of riding in upstate- blue skies and green everywhere.  Like many of the other stages, I try to get a vague all-over pass of color values done before going back into final details and deeper shadows.  

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HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN RIDING DIRT BIKES? 

Its been about 3-4 years, but its a bit sporadic since my bike stays upstate for the most part and I live in the city. I first learned on my Kawasaki KLX140L. It belonged to my boyfriend's sister who is a fairly experienced rider on both the dirt and street. She wasn't using the dirtbike as much as she used to and was willing to sell it to me.

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I also just got a Suzuki SV650S last fall, so I only got a couple times in before winter really kicked in. It has definitely been interesting learning to ride a street bike here in Brooklyn. There's a lot of people, no space, and some craziness. But it's a ton of fun!

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST DIRT BIKE RIDING EXPERIENCE LIKE? 

Hahaha, I thought I was going a lot faster than I was, that's for sure. I laughed when I saw the video my boyfriend had taken. I didn't fall, but I did manage to hit a tree that first time. I gassed it a little too hard and zoomed off to the side instead of down a hill. I managed to hit one of the few trees dead-on with my front tire. I kind of jolted forwards out of my seat and lightly tapped the tree trunk with my helmet. I wasn't hurt though, it was more of a reminder of why gear is important, hahaha.

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WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT RIDING IN THE NORTHEAST?

The terrain is pretty awesome. There are a lot of woods, and weird rocks and boulders dispersed throughout since its the top end of the Appalachias, and a lot is weathered and rounded. Crossing rivers and streams is fun, and well, you have the potential for all sorts of mud and crazy slippery riding conditions. I do like the woods not only for the riding style, but because you get some relief from the sun and the wildlife you see can be really beautiful.

HAVE YOU EVER RIDDEN WITH OTHER FEMALE FRIENDS?  

Sadly I haven't really. Probably the closest was letting female friends take some turns on my bike, haha. Although I've only ridden with a handful of people anyways, so it's not really a comment on gender. Also, I don't know too many girls who ride bikes in general, and even fewer with dirt-bikes. One day soon though!