Winning one of 12 statewide poster art contests for one of cycling's newest and biggest events is no easy feat. Doing it two years in a row is even more impressive.
So how did Breckenridge artist Nikki Arcieri come to accomplish such a thing? "I really don't have a great answer, other than I tried to make my submission the best it could be," Arcieri said. "Both last year and this year, I spent a substantial amount of time working on the design."
That time spent paid off, as Arcieri applied her love and knowledge of cycling, her professional graphic design and fine art background, and her four years experience as a Breck local to her final design. The judging panel was made up of Breckenridge Town Councilman Jeffrey Bergeron, former Bachelorette contestant Jesse Csincsak, Summit County Commissioner Dan Gibbs, 5th Judicial District Judge (and local mountain bike competitor) Mark Thompson and Breckenridge Mayor John Warner, all big supporters of last year's U.S.A. Pro Cycling Challenge.
"The winning design has bold color choices and good contrast, Hoosier Pass is tied into the background, and we think these are some of the reasons her design stood out to the judges," said Jeff Cospolich, manager of social media and community outreach for the Breckenridge Local Organizing Committee for the Pro Cycling Challenge. Cospolich worked with the race to select Breckenridge's panel of judges and choose the top three Breckenridge designs from a handful of submissions.
Once the submissions were narrowed down, it was a simple selection process by the panel.
"As we understand it, Nikki's design was a clear winner," said Rachel Zerowin of the Breckenridge Resort Chamber. "We love that Nikki chose to highlight the 'rude awakening' part of the Breckenridge stage, Hoosier Pass."
"I started out designing what I intended to be something reminiscent of a vintage style cycling poster," Arcieri said. "But as I kept working, I moved in the direction of a cleaner, more straightforward looking design, which is analogous to the whole USA PCC branding scheme. As I was designing, I would show a few friends my work in progress, and quite honestly, it was their feedback that helped the poster become what it is. One friend suggested that I should reference Hoosier Pass more poignantly, as it is the most thrilling part of our stage. Thus, the rider in the poster is wearing the King of the Mountains jersey."
Arcieri said she also wanted people to see that part of the Breckenridge stage - the fifth stage of this year's PCC - is above treeline, which cyclists in particular can really appreciate.
"I generally end up going a little nuts using color, though with this design, I tapped into my design school roots and went with a complementary color scheme - primarily red and green hues," she said.
Arcieri is a lifelong artist with a passion for the Colorado landscape and the myriad of outdoor activities it provides. She is a Colorado State University graduate in graphic design and art history, and spent several years in Seattle before relocating to Breck four years ago.
"Breckenridge is a wonderful place," Arcieri said. "I have family roots here and always loved visiting when I was younger. The accessibility to outdoor activities is unparalleled and the town itself is a great place to be. I have no intention to leave anytime soon."
This year's winning poster started out as many of her custom works do, as an illustration, which is then scanned into the computer. "Illustration is my most favorite medium. I love the simple act of drawing - pencil on paper," Arcieri said. "I also really enjoy water color, collage and generating design on the computer."
Her inspirations range from color, shape and pattern to being influenced by historical and contemporary artists, which makes sense, given her graphic design and art history training.
"Finding balance in life will always be difficult, particularly if you're someone engaged in a lot of activities," Arcieri said. "The process of making art can be frustrating, liberating, long-winded or harmonious. I think you could describe cycling the same way."
And for the future?
"I spend most my time art-wise doing custom design work. I also make greeting cards that are sold at Goods here in Breckenridge," Arcieri said. "I've dabbled in T-shirt design and have also considered doing some large format fine art pieces. We'll see!"
During last year's Breckenridge stage, Arcieri turned her winning artwork into a 12 by 24-foot chalk-art piece that was featured prominently on television and social media during last year's race coverage in Breckenridge, and the Town of Breck does hope she'll do the same this year. Race organizers will add their banner to this year's Breckenridge poster design and offer it for sale during the race.
The second annual USA Pro Cycling Challenge will take place Aug. 20-26, with the week named by Gov. John Hickenlooper as a "Colorado Cycling Holiday." The race travels through 12 host cities from Durango to Denver with more than one million spectators expected. A national poster contest was also held both years of the race. This year's national poster contest winner was Leanna Johnson of Montrose the start city of this year's Stage 2. Find more information at www.USAProCyclingChallenge.com. To view more of Arcieri's work, visit www.nicolearcieridesign.com.