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Press Release

BMW IMAGEThe eagerly-awaited BMW S 1000 RR will soon be unleashed on an expectant public. To build on the anticipation that already surrounds the new BMW superbike, two world-renowned artists have created a special project that illustrates the bike, in more ways than one.

The result of the collaboration is the S 1000 RR versus Japan concept – a visionary series of images that encapsulates the German manufacturer’s intentions to break into the supersport market with a motorcycle equally as revolutionary. 

The supersport market is the traditional stomping ground of Japanese and Italian manufacturers which have, for many years, enjoyed almost complete domination. The introduction of the S 1000 RR will challenge that domination and offer consumers a viable alternative to the bikes currently on the market. S 1000 RR versus Japan is an explosive introduction of an exciting new machine onto the scene.

The project consists of four striking images, formed by a combination of cutting-edge photography and original illustrations. The artforms complement each other superbly to produce a highly stylized vision of the S 1000 RR. Matthias Harbeck, Executive Creative Director at international creative agency Service plan has been involved with bringing the project to life: “With the launch of the S 1000 RR imminent, we wanted to give the public something to get excited about leading up to the release date,” he explained. “Over the period building up to the launch we wanted to reach out to new audiences and the S 1000 RR versus Japan lifestyle project was a great way to engage with people through art, rather than just directly black porn targeting motorcyclists.”

In order to reach a broad audience, a combination of photography and illustration techniques were used to create an emotive concept that portrayed the strengths of the S 1000 RR and transcended motorcycling and non-motorcycling groups. “To achieve the right look, we knew that traditional studio photography wouldn’t be successful as the bike would look static,” continues Matthias. “The photographer, Rene Neuman used a special technique to bring the bike to life, similar to double exposure. He used an extremely slow shutter speed – keeping the shutter open for about a minute – while he walked around the bike with a neon light, wiping it in the air, which had a really interesting effect on the way the bike was lit. Then, the camera was moved just once in that minute to create the illusion of movement. This process was repeated several times, at different angles, and the results are very convincing.”

Once the photography had been finalized, the next step was to enlist the help of renowned illustrator Frank Gräfe, whose job it was to develop the ‘Biomega’ technique that had been chosen for the project.

“Japanese illustration is usually seen as either calligraphy or manga,” he says. “Calligraphy is very formal, whereas manga is quite child-like and naïve. We decided to use a darker style – a fusion between ancient Japanese illustration and the more recent manga technique. Frank did a superb job and employed the Biomega technique to emphasise the message we were trying to convey.

“The results are really pleasing,” he continues. “The photography and illustration complement each other extremely well and become one image. The danger with using photography and illustration in the same image is that one form could cannibalize the other. However, the results show that in this instance, that has been avoided.”

“I have been illustrating pretty much from the moment I could walk!” adds Frank. “I was encouraged by my parents to follow my passion and during the mid-1990s I plied my trade as a graffiti artist while studying design at the Bauhaus University in Dessau, Germany. I collected further experience with scribble techniques and illustrations during that time. Then between 2005 and 2006 I was a lecturer for the same course at my old university! However, I set up my own agency called Eat, Sleep and Design in 2005 and haven’t looked back since.”

Frank explains his role in the process that led to the production of this unique project. “The work on this concept was very interesting and inspirational, because everybody involved in the project really likes the story behind the idea – that the S 1000 RR is making a mark against its primarily Japanese competitors,” he says. “For me, the project started with a concept – to recreate images that people recognised as traditionally Japanese. The results of this were the four motives – ‘geisha’, ‘cherry blossom’, ‘samurai’ and ‘sumo’.

“We wanted to avoid the typical manga style, as it wasn’t aggressive enough to portray the personality of the S 1000 RR. Instead, we transformed the campaign into a darker comic world, with more speed and action, with the addition of traditional Japanese elements.”

Far from being a matter of drawing attractive pictures, the illustration process was the most time-consuming and creative. “The techniques required suited my sketching and illustration skills perfectly,” adds Frank. “To create the initial visuals, I adopted traditional methods, such as normal black ink and paper. However, to convey the futuristic feel, I used computer imaging to create a collage of my drawings.”

The S 1000 RR versus Japan art project is not only eye-catching but it also highlights the attitude of the awesome new bike from BMW Motorrad – interesting, aggressive, intriguing and innovative.

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