We first came across @CarterCartier on Instagram a few years ago when his fantastic illustrations of motorcycles sporting coffee ring wheels were a sensation. Having formed an immediate respect for his talents, along with a budding friendship, we couldn't resist convincing him to once again pick up the art form he pioneered. Armed with our Diner Mug, Corner Booth Blend coffee, and Company Lead pencil, he immortalizes a prized CB450 Black Bomber ... and tells us all about it.
THE CAFFEINE RACER
Talking Art and Motos With Carter Asmann
Words: Mike Higgins Images: Carter Asmann
GSCo: Let's start with just some background. You're a San Diego area guy, born and raised, but you went to school at Oregon?
Yeah. It was really fun to be a student there. I studied art, yes. Double major actually, art and economics. I did do very traditional classes, like art history and art studio classes. I like drawing and painting, and printmaking was kind of my thing. But then on the flip side, I was studying economics and doing math, so like existing in two different worlds in school. But it was fun.
GSCo: So that exposure to art as well as the business side obviously helps. We know you originally from your Instagram. How did that following come about and grow?
I've always liked drawing and painting, but really started putting stuff on Instagram in 2014. Which was really the peak, like heyday, it was my favorite time of Instagram. It was very community-driven and everyone was just so connected.
And people that you would connect with would like actually form these internet friendships. It was a very fun time on Instagram and people were just genuinely interested in sharing content and finding stuff.
GSCo: A lot of people found you that way, along with your very unique art. Talk about how that idea of the coffee ring came to be.
Well, literally the very first one I was using my sketchbook as a coaster and it left the coffee ring and I just kind of like incorporated it into the drawing ... and then I further developed the idea around using that as a compositional element. At the time I was living north of San Diego and was friends with the guy that ran a shop called Seaweed and Gravel. We were talking a lot about motorcycles and coffee and the cafe scene in San Diego, and Los Angeles. It was just fortuitous that I was also hanging out in his shop to see this Cafe Racer build, and all the pieces kind of fell together at the same time and the coffee ring concepts paired really nicely with the cafe racer. And so I did the first as a kind of collaboration using the CB550 build that the shop had just finished. They were posting it and I was posting it, and it kind of just went pretty viral.
GSCo: It certainly took off. How did it evolve from that first post.
Well, my art in general is very analytical and very precise. And so the first ones were done a little bit faster. So they had detail, but definitely were more of an exercise. But once I refined it, the more time I spent on it, the more detail focused it got. So now, you know a drawing will take twenty five hours or so just to make sure it's as precise as I can get, at that scale. One of the main focuses was combining that detail element with the messy, organic element of the stain.
GSCo: That is a big part of the intrigue it seems to create. How do you choose how to use the ring for say, each type of motorcycle. Is it different for each?
It kind of depends on the wheel set that was chosen, and the bike and the composition. Some of them, the older ones, I found to be more successful without the spokes. And then some have the spoke patterns, like the Black Bomber, or like a BMW R 90. The ones that I like, with a cool wheelset, I will tend to include it.
GSCo: You seem to know these machines. Are you a bike guy yourself?
I definitely grew up around bikes and motorcycles and vintage cars. So, the whole whole scene was definitely something I admired. I appreciate the engineering and mechanics, and the motors themselves, more than anything. I was touring the custom bike scene a lot with the art for a while. And just seeing these different cities and how what's going down at a show in Austin is different than San Francisco, and that's different than the Portland show. That's what I find to be the most interesting.
GSCo: You were part of the shows too? Through the Oil and Ink expo with John Christenson?
John's the best. And he really helped spread the word about motorcycle art. And so I traveled to some of those shows. He was helpful in connecting me with a bunch of other people as well.
GSCo: Well, you've moved on from posting a lot of the coffee ring art, so we really appreciate you dusting off the sketchbook for us. Did you enjoy getting back into it for this project?
Yeah. That's always the fun part about commissions, when people are so familiar and connected with their bike. To recreate that for someone that appreciates all the attention to detail. I really enjoy doing it. I'm just doing so many other art forms. I've been doing a lot of pottery and painting and different sculpture work, so yeah, of course, I enjoy going back to drawing.
GSCo: Well, it seemed so perfect, with the coffee, the mug and even the pencil. We just had to get you on board.
I didn't know that you guys had done the pencil. I'd seen that you guys were building the coffee mug and the coffee. But then when you offered a pencil, I was surprised. It all fit so well with the art concept. And the pencil itself is so smooth. It's great for the larger areas. I use a really small mechanical pencil on the line work and most of the detailing. But some of the larger areas that are more just kind of tonal ranges I use a normal pencil.
GSCo: We love it. And really appreciate you taking it on, and taking the time to talk us through it. Enjoy the weather in San Diego. We're a little jealous being stuck on the East coast right now. Hopefully you can get back this way soon.
Yeah. Sounds great.