THE ART OF HISTORY - FAST FASHION MEETS SUSTAINABLE DESIGN

Pearson's new road cycling jerseys and base layer are a collaboration – between world-class illustrator Greg Coulton and the Pearson philosophy of sustainable manufacture.

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Cycling has long been linked with visual art. In fact, the shape of a bicycle has inspired many an artist to feature our favourite method of transport in their work. Others have lent their skills to apparel – which is where world-renowned illustrator Greg Coulton comes in.

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Greg, who until recently lived just a short ride from the Pearson Sheen store, has worked with a number of iconic brands, from Beck's beer to Becks the footballer. For our spring/summer range wanted to create a unique design that showed off our history while celebrating the evolution of Pearson as a brand.

"I feel it's important to understand what a brand is about and have some sort of shared philosophy, ethics, or an interest in what they do," Greg tells us.

"After meeting in person, I felt that Pearson's philosophy is aligned with my own in many respects – craft, attention to detail, taking time, care and effort in everything you do. I felt we had a shared interest in traditional craftsmanship as well as local history."

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Working with Greg, Pearson adapted his striking fine-art illustration 'Sheen' to our new lightweight road jersey and base layer both made from recycled materials. Explaining the design Greg said: "It was originally a personal project, part of a typographic study of the places I've lived."

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Giclee prints, printed on Hahnemühle Photo Rag card.

"The basic form of the place name, SHEEN, I already had in my head, but I wanted to adorn it with stories from the area and visual depictions of the place and its interesting and varied history." Examples include the stags of Richmond Park and swans from the River Thames. While the idea came together in just a few days, it took Greg around 50 hours to complete the piece.

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Original signed prints 'Sheen' by Greg.

"The original artwork is quite large and with the amount of fine detail and intricate elements, it took a great deal of concentration and accuracy." Greg's piece will keep those familiar with the area around our store busy for hours, spotting key aspects of Sheen's colourful past and its significant cultural and natural links.

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There can't be many single pieces of art that include references to Edward I, William Wallace and Sir Tim Berners-Lee. Greg said he finds it relatively straightforward to transfer ideas from his head to paper.

Greg Coulton X Pearson fully recycled lightweight base layer.

"I begin by studying the subject matter and organically themes or similarities begin to present themselves. With these concepts I try to piece together a narrative that I can weave into the design or illustration. Although my style is very complex and labour intensive, I do feel fortunate that the work often seems to draw itself."

Greg Coulton x Pearson fully recycled summer jersey.

Other parallels between Greg's world and ours are the mental health benefits of both art and cycling. This year, Pearson has chosen to support Action for Happiness and the Mental Health Foundation.

"I would certainly say practising art has a beneficial effect on people's well-being. We all live a fast-paced, pressured lifestyle these days, where our time and attention are in constant demand and in more ways than ever before.

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"The time and space art affords us is invaluable in my opinion, not only as an escape but also as a place to think and express oneself freely, without worrying about others' perceptions or ‘getting it wrong'."

When it comes to who has inspired Greg, he picked out Pomme Chan, a celebrated Thai artist. "She's an illustrator with her own beautiful style who originally inspired me to make the leap from graphic designer to illustrator." He also singles out Aaron Horkey, whose work includes posters for movies such as Boogie Nights, Magnolia and Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings finale, The Return of the King. "His ability is hard to put into words. I couldn't even begin to describe how he does what he does. He's a bona fide genius."

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As for anyone who has the desire to take up illustration, or art of any kind for that matter, Greg's advice is simple – go for it. "Don't worry about having the right pens, paper or other equipment, that can come as you perfect your technique," he told us. "The most important thing is to get started and experiment until you find your own voice. Don't feel pressured to be like anyone else, or fear to get it wrong. Ultimately, if you enjoy the process of creating, that's all the reward you need." Greg also offered a word of caution: "It's a very competitive and well-populated industry – so don't quit the day job too soon."

Artists can be famously introspective but Greg signed off with praise and admiration for others.

"It would be remiss of me not to mention the extraordinary work being done been doing to keep us all safe," he said. "Healthcare workers especially but also, having two young children, the job teachers do on a daily basis should be given much greater praise!"

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