Ryan Quickfall – or Ryan Roadkill as per his Instagram page – is a Newcastle-based illustrator inspired by B-Movie posters, comic book art, skulls and absolutely anything to do with motorcycles. He produces work for Guy Martin, major bike companies – creating artworks for their clothing – is a regular contributor to Sideburn magazine and has produced a collection of promo posters for Krazy Horse’s late night events. He also races a Rotax (below) in the UK dirt track series. We caught up with him at his latest exhibition
What’s your background as an artist?
I’m an illustrator with a studio in the centre of Newcastle. Initially, I worked as a designer in other companies – I did the graphics for motocross teams through a company called MXM (originally MXA). I got thrown into it when Dixons Yamaha (one of the top motocross teams in the UK) wanted some work doing.
How did you get end up becoming a freelance artist?
I dabbled with freelance work, then launched headfirst into it when Gary Inman [editor of Sideburn magazine, flat track racer and driving force behind Dirt Quake] helped kick things off for me with some work. He’d seen my art online and was putting a book together on graphic artists. From there he commissioned me to do some stuff for Sideburn and has been my most regular client since I started doing this. He knows a lot of people in the industry and has helped put my name about. I can’t thank him enough.
Who did he connect you with?
Well, I’m doing work with Harley-Davidson Europe and for its museum in Wisconsin. I’ve just finished doing the graphics for the 2017 range of Harley clothes. I’ve done some with Roland Sands (RSD), again through Gary, and with clients like that it’s lifted my profile in the industry quite dramatically.
What kind of work are you doing with Harley and RSD?
Most of it is apparel-based and I spend a lot of time with clients, working to their brief. Conforming to it is a different discipline. It’s strange – clients come to me for my art but then impose constraints. But that’s how it is in business. And that’s why the work you see here (at the Krazy Horse art party) is my own free-form art.
Describe your art
It’s generally motorcycle-related and there’s a theme of skeleton riders – undead riders. The two gell. The skulls and skeletons go back to when I was at school – I used to doodle them all the time. I can’t actually do anything but draw.
I failed everything at school but I got an A in art. This is all I do. And while I never knew how to become an artist, it was a given that I’d find a way to make a living doing this. I took an illustration and animation college course to degree level and then worked for my dad in engineering for a few years – you can’t plan for the future in the modern climate. But I’d rather earn pennies and grind myself to the bone doing this than doing a 9-5 job, though I respect anyone, whatever kind of work they do. I’m 33 years old now and I’ve been doing this kind of work – putting my art in the public domain – for a year now, though it started about five years ago with my prints. I work seven days a week on this but it’s what I enjoy.
What kind of project do you have in mind in the future?
I’d like to do some larger scale works – wall murals. I’ve not done graffiti or street art, though I have done some larger scale stuff. When I do canvasses for the larger works I use acrylics. For the smaller work I start with a sketch on paper, ink it up by hand, scan it, then digitally add the colour before I screen print it myself. I do my own T-shirts too but get someone to screen print them.
How about the Krazy Horse connection?
That again came though Gary. He had a launch party here and asked me to do the art for the flyer. I came up with the horse character and Krazy Horse loved it and asked me to do their event posters t What’s your background as an artist? oo. Guy Martin is a big client for me too. I just did two limited edition jackets for his books – plus I do his calendar each year and his T-shirts.
‘I’ve always been interested in bikes – it’s been a part of my life since I was a kid. ‘
How important are motorcycles to you these days?
I’ve always been interested in bikes – it’s been a part of my life since I was a kid. Neither of my parents were into bikes or had any kind of connection with them but I started riding dirt bikes with a KX85, though I’ve never actually raced motocross to any level. At 21 I got my road bike licence. I had an NC30 then got an R6, one of the last carburetted models, and I rode that for years until I sold it three years ago. I’d dabbled with various bikes up to then but just gelled with the Yamaha.
What are you currently riding?
I just have my CCM Rotax 560 flat tracker – which Mike Hill of Survivor Customs has slaved over for me. I’d known about flat track racing but I didn’t realise the sport had taken off so well in the UK until I got to know Gary. I met Anthony Brown of the Dirt Track Riders Association (DTRA) and went along to watch. Then I plunged into racing. Last year wasn’t a full season but this time around I’m aiming to do the entire championship.