It’s been just over a week since we were all blown away by the IMSHI Cycles bike built by photographer Eric Baumann, and especially by the lava-crackle paint work on top of it. It was applied by Massachusetts-local Rudi Jung, and today we’re privileged to hear his story against the background of another of his canvases: Parlee’s new Z-Zero XD cyclocross frame.
“Hi, my name is Rudi Jung. I painted that IMSHI for Eric Baumann. I work full time doing paint/design for Parlee Cycles in Beverly, MA. I also work part-time building with Geekhouse and my own brand called Gold Coast Bicycle Mfg. I moved to Beverly exactly one year ago from Santa Barbara, CA.
I do paint/design for other builders like Royal H Cycles, Geekhouse, Moth Attack, Gallus, and others. My design background comes from drawing/printing punk show flyers and building model planes. Skating and BMX were and still are heavy influences. I like the ‘subtle from afar, but crazy up close’.
This is a new model Parlee which came out earlier this year. It’s their Z-Zero XD gravel bike. The whole frame including the tubes is built by hand in Beverly, MA. I design the logos/scheme and executed the paint on this one. Maps of Cape Ann on the down tube and seat tube, old school longitude/latitude lines on the fork/stem/top tube, ‘PARLEE’ spelled out in nautical flags on the wishbone, Z-Zero nautical compass on the head tube, and Parlee draft logo on the down tube.
This is all done under a blue kandy coat and the flags are done above that with kandy paint as well. The reason I went for a nautical theme was because Bob Parlee got his start building carbon fiber boats that raced and won in the Olympics back in the 80s. These maps showcase the coastline of Boston’s ‘Gold Coast’ Cape Ann, where we all live and work.
I grew up in Lake Tahoe, California. My older brother is a pilot and built model air planes when he was a kid. I got into building and painting models from him. He still paints all the time, mostly miniatures like Warhammer 40K. We would have long snowy winters and building/painting was good for passing the time. When I got into skateboarding I was always drawn to the graphics. I really liked all the Powell, Santa Cruz, early Blind decks, and anything drawn by Pushead. I was really into all the groovy 2 Hip BMX stuff too.
Skateboarding and BMX got me into punk. I started putting on all-ages punk shows in high school at the local college. I would do all sorts of silly cut and paste flyers. I eventually started hand drawing flyers and screen printing them. The aesthetic of punk and hardcore records rubbed off on me the most. I loved all the Dischord, Revelation, Victory, Ebullition, SST and Vermiform records. Seeing that all these people just like me could make these amazing things gave me a newfound perspective on what was possible.
Living in a small town with 3000 people, it’s hard to find out about cool bands. We would go to Reno, NV and buy records based on the covers. Designing flyers and record covers was how I was forced to learn Photoshop and Illustrator. I figured all that stuff out and then refused to use it for a couple years. I focused on doing all my art and layout on paper. I had to think about what I was doing more. Erasing meant starting over, a lot of the time.
I moved to Beverly exactly a year ago this week. We moved because my girlfriend is from here and I wanted to work at Parlee. I worked for Geekhouse for a couple of weeks and then got hired full-time at Parlee in the paint department. I learned so much about painting from Brian and Cody at Parlee. The quality control for paint is very strict there. Every bike needs to be show quality. Aside from the great work they do at Parlee they’ve also done fantastic work for Firefly, Gaulzetti, and Igleheart.
I continued working for Geekhouse after getting off work at Parlee 3-4 days a week and moved Gold Coast to the same building in South Boston. Marty at Geekhouse taught me his way of TIG welding frames, production building, and powdercoating. Marty shares a shop space with Bryan Hollingsworth who does Royal H Cycles.
These two set such a high standard for how bikes need to be built and look. From lug shorelines to perfect welds, these guys are obsessed with perfection. Everything is so well thought out. Working with them is such a great experience. I still work down there on Gold Coast frames and help out at Geekhouse whenever I can.
Right now I’m focusing on paint. I want bikes to tell a story or at least be awesome to look at. They should reflect the rider’s personality and lifestyle. When I was painting the Cape Ann Z-Zero, Bob and Isabel Parlee would point out locations on the map and talk about past experiences there. It was interesting to learn about the rich history of our region, but also about Bob’s history.
I drew/designed all new logos for that bike based on the boat building history of Bob Parlee. He built countless numbers of sailboats, big and small. Flying Dutchman-class sailboats that he built won in the Olympics during the 80s. I love painting intricate designs over raw carbon fiber under kandy clear like the Cape Ann Z-Zero. I like it when bikes look subtle in low light and explode with color in the sun.
Certain things are always fun for me; like a well executed fade or the ‘lava-crackle’ on Eric Baumann’s IMSHI. I’m obsessed with metal flake as well. I always used metal flake in my Gold Coast down tube logos. It reminds me of bass fishing boats and Ed ‘Big Daddy’ Roth creations. I’ve used metal flake on a couple of Parlees, mostly tiny sparkles in the clear or kandy.
My favorite thing is when people give me free reign on their bikes. Moth Attack and Geekhouse really trust me on this. They give me a rough color palette and I go from there. The Marimekko floral Moth Attack I painted for Ashley from HB Mustache, kandy/lace/gold leaf Parlee for McKenzy, and Marty’s personal ‘Acid Rain Camo’ CX bike are some of my favourites. My personal Parlee Z-Zero and this Cape Ann Z-Zero XD are at the top of my list though.”
The Spoken would like to thank Rudi Jung for the fantastic story. The paint is the finishing touch on the beautiful custom bikes featured on these pages, so it’s an important insight to hear from the artists that apply it. Keep an eye on Rudi’s Instagram feed for more. Special thanks to Hunter Kelly for the photos.