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March 20, 2015

Meet Jeremy Lacy – Motorcycle, Sketchbook and Surface Fan

Over the years I have been blown away many times by the work that artists create on tablets.  It ranges from artists who have mastered the art of recreating a realistic oil painting to artists pushing the envelope of what is possible by creating new styles and techniques that would have been impossible without the use of new technologies.  My first encounter with Windows 8 was on a Surface RT using FreshPaint.  I was amazed at the capabilities of that device to recreate real-world behavior of brushes, colors, and canvas.  But moreover, one could combine oil, with watercolor, with acrylic, and then top it off with Crayon.  While never particularly pleasing to the eye – I had a blast.

Today I want to introduce you guys to Jeremy Lacy – an artist active in another field that I find incredibly fascinating.  Jeremy is an Industrial Designer by day, a motorcycle and hot rod concept artist by night.  I recently had a chance to ask Jeremy some questions about his use of and Surface Pro 3.

Let’s find out why he chooses Surfaces and SketchBook when he wants to be artistic and mobile.

Markus: Tell us a little bit about your history, Jeremy. How did you get into Industrial Design?

Jeremy: I have sort of a dual working life.  I’ve always sketched and drawn since I was little.  In High School I found out about Industrial Design as a career so I went for it, winning a full-ride scholarship to the Art Institute of Colorado.  During school I was focused on Transportation Design but life happens, and right out of school I landed a job at a local exhibit design firm here in Denver.  I stayed there for a couple of years then found a job at a small Industrial Design firm here in Denver called Ideations.  Ideations focuses on environmental design work – the exact opposite of anything transportation related J.  I’ve been the lead designer here for going on 19 years, and I can easily say it’s a fantastic company with some great people.

Markus: But your real passion is in motorcycles?

Jeremy: Motorcycles and old cars have always been a large part of my adult life so when things really slowed down in 2008 with the full-time job I started throwing energy at brushing up on my motorcycle and automotive drawing skills.  I’ve got a long way to go but in the last year, with the help of social media, I’ve gained a bit more exposure. I recently formed DownShift Studio to collect all of this after-hours work.  A lot has happened this past year and I’ve been very fortunate to have worked with and met some of the fantastic motorcycle builders and fabricators I only dreamed of being in contact with a few short years ago.  I’ve gotten to illustrate bikes from around the world, I’ve helped design and visualize a few new bikes and I’m even helping pen a kit car that is under development right now.  I’m in it for the long haul and don’t expect success over night – it’s a long process about setting goals and keeping your head down and working.  My work and skills are still a long way off from where I want them to be – I just keep practicing!



Markus: How long have you been using SketchBook on Surface?

Jeremy: I’ve been using SketchBook since about 2006 or so.  I was immediately drawn to the streamlined interface and how it didn’t slow me down while using the software.  I try most new drawing packages that are released but I always find myself coming back to SketchBook because it’s the fastest for getting my ideas out there.  I’ve been using a Surface Pro + SketchBook for mobile sketching since the first generation Surface Pro was introduced.  At the time I was looking for an affordable / mobile / digital sketching option that I could use some of my professional software on while being able to sketch anywhere.  I had been using iPad but wanted something more precise with more horsepower. In October of 2014 I found the Surface Pro 3 and was excited to try it out.  The improved screen, awesome form factor, killer kickstand and improved battery life are what sucked me in so I ended up getting an i7 with 256GB model with 8GB of ram.  This setup keeps up with all needs and allows me to run any sort of software I need.  It’s a pretty amazing piece of hardware.

Markus: Why do you like drawing on Surface? Do you use pen, touch, or a combination?

Jeremy: I like drawing on the Surface because of the portability and the form factor.  It’s lightweight, has a good screen size, and has a great stylus. I find that when I go back and try to draw on the iPad now using the top rated styli they just can’t keep pace with what the Surface provides.  There is always some sort of lag.  That lag isn’t there with the Surface Pro 3 so it’s become my portable weapon of choice. I love that I can stand in front of a bike at a show or in a shop and have all of the tools I’d need to illustrate that bike in one compact device.


Markus: You draw on traditional media, like sketch rolls, as well as with SketchBook. When you start a project, how do you decide on a medium?

Jeremy: It usually depends on the parameters of the project and what the end goals are.  I use old school sketchbooks all of the time still.  The sketch rolls came about by taking my typical design thought process sketches and applying that to visualizing motorcycles.  I view the sketch rolls as more of an art piece.  I’ve been working on translating that style to my digital sketching – I’m not there yet but I’m working on it.  If it’s a client piece I usually use whatever medium they are requesting the piece be done in.  I prefer digital because of the editing changes that can easily be made (clients like to change things).

driving sketch1

Markus: How often do you draw with SketchBook? How often on Surface?

Jeremy: I draw with SketchBook almost every day.  Even when I’m working in another drawing program like Painter or Photoshop I’ll usually bring the illustration back into SketchBook to do detail work and clean up lines.  SketchBook has some great compatibility with those other programs and makes it easy to go between a few different tools.  The interface is just that much faster for me than using those other apps.  The ellipse tools and guideline tools are better than any other package as well (I used to use physical ellipse templates over my Cintiq before these tools were introduced).  I’ll draw on my Mac using my old Wacom Cintiq 21ux when I’m at my desk, but when I need a change of scenery I grab the Surface Pro 3.  I’d say it’s 60% desktop and 40% Surface Pro.  I can work faster on the large desktop screen but I like the advantages of using touch to pan and zoom on the Surface, plus I can’t take my Mac and Wacom with me.  If I want to be or need to be mobile the Surface is like my whole studio – just portable.


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