By Kurt Boone
Photography by Amy Bolger, www.amybolger.com
Many are familiar with his Monster Track flyers, but not the veteran New York City bicycle messenger behind the art. Greg Ugalde has uplifted and inspired the urban cycling community through his illustrative, mythical and surreal art for years. Chatting with Greg he called his art style contemporary folklore, except in his drawings he depicts urban cycling through the prism of the bicycle messenger rather than more traditional folk themes.
One of the strengths of the messenger community is inspiring everyday folks and youth to ride their bicycles to work, for fun or in some cases to race. A while back I interviewed Greg about his art for the book “New York Alleycats” where some of Greg’s illustrations are published. I asked Greg how he became a bicycle messenger and when he began to draw.
After being released from prison in 2000 he took a job as a foot messenger to get together enough money to purchase a bicycle, a used Huffy that he bought from a newspaper listing. “Becoming a bicycle messenger changed my life.” Before eventually dropping out, Greg learned the basics of drawing in high school with formal instruction in pencil and ink. In 2003 he was commissioned for his first urban cycling illustration for the Monster Track 4 flyer, having done the art for each one since. His art has become synonymous with the race, and for some the larger New York courier scene.
Starting with that first Monster Track flyer illustration his art began to be known in the New York City urban cycling community and beyond. His style of incorporating skyscrapers, bicycle components, snakes and dragons into his art to illustrate the life of the courier has attracted a large following beyond the cycling world. Greg Ugalde’s recognition increased with his appearance on the short-lived Travel Channel television show “Triple Rush” with his life philosophy proving popular with the show’s fans.
Speaking with Greg at his home in Brooklyn we discussed the inspiration for his art creations, the hard life of the bicycle courier and his foray into movies and television.