Kate O’Reilly is a local publicist and producer (and new employee of Twin Cities Public Television!) who, along with her business partner and a small dedicated team, produces the ARTCRANK poster show. Here she tells us about the show and how it all comes together.

ARTCRANK is a show of bicycle-inspired poster artwork that introduces people to talented local artists and sends them home with affordable, original works of art. Every ARTCRANK show features posters created by local artists from the host city. Admission is always free, and posters are priced to let everybody take home at least one. It began in Minneapolis in 2007. Since then, we’ve held shows in DenverSt. LouisPortlandSan FranciscoDes MoinesBend, OR,  London and Interbike in Las Vegas. For 2012, we’re adding new shows in Austin, Los Angeles and New York.

Our mission is to use creativity to change the way people think about bicycles and grow the cycling community. In a nutshell: Bikes. Art. Doing Good. The best part of our jobs is that we get to travel to some of the country’s (and the world’s) great cities and get to know people who are as head-over-heels in love with cycling and creativity as we are. This is a great privilege, and we channel that same energy into supporting people and groups who are out there doing good.

The shows are planned basically from the minute the last one ends. Usually the first thing I work on is finding a venue if it will be different from the year before. Then, I have a checklist that I run through to make sure all things we need to have a party are aligned: a place to park bikes, mouth watering beverages to drink, music to rock out, and a large flat surface to sell and bag the gorgeous works of art our artists create for the show. There are a approximately one billion things around these details that need to be completed, but I won’t bore you with those. We have an impressive group of partners and sponsors that we work with in each city to make it all come together. Those details aside, I would say that the “official official” start to each show is when we do the call for artists, usually around three months out from the date of the show.

We put the call out on our website and social media channels and it’s an exciting day each and every time we do it! We’re looking for 30-40 artists but we’ve had as many as 105 entries for some shows. We realize that these are good problems, but it makes our job very hard. After the deadline we review the artists’ portfolios and we come up with our short list and ask them to make an original piece for our show. They have approximately two months from the time we notify them to make their posters. We sell up to 50 copies, which are hand signed and numbered by the artist. We try and have a few tried and true popular artists but mostly wish to feature up and coming artists’ work.

Opening the packages the posters come in is like Christmas morning, over and over. We’re always amazed at the variety, ink colors (we’ve seen as many as 16 colors on one poster; which means that many or more pulls on the screen printer, per poster!), and creativity of our artists. The show is a true labor of love for Charles, the show’s creator and curator, and I. Our small but growing team of now 5 dedicated and bike-obsessed folks meets every other week in the wee hours of Monday morning (we all have FT jobs as well) over coffee to discuss details and upcoming tasks. Our upcoming show in Minneapolis will be our 25th show in the life of ARTCRANK.

In the slideshow, you’ll see photos from a number of different ARTCRANK shows of Charles and I setting up, checking in with our cause partners, the madness of when guests arrive, and the incredible art. Enjoy! And come and experience the show for yourself sometime. It’s a fun ride.

ARTCRANK MSP Opening Night Party is Saturday, April 14, 2012 at Traffic Zone Center for Visual Art. The 2012 edition of ARTCRANK MSP will, as always, feature hand-made, bike-inspired posters created by 40 local artists. Admission is free, and limited edition, signed and numbered copies of all posters will be available for $40 each. More details, including those for a family-friendly pre party, can be found here.