Art Bike Project Profile: Mike Zeitz is Learning to Make Tall Bikes

Big Mike has spearheaded the first ever Vancouver Mini Maker Faire art bike project, where he is recruiting Makers to start decorating, building and creating custom bicycles – of all shapes and sizes. So far he’s managed to wrangle bicycle fabricators, sign decorators, and has found a pile of bicycle parts for pillaging. His overall goal is to learn how to make bicycles from old parts, meet friends, engage with Vancouver’s cycling community, and help promote Vancouver Mini Maker Faire. He’s looking to do more, and looking for more people to get involved. You do not have to have experience with welding to join the project – just enthusiasm Sign up now to get involved!

1) Where did the idea for the art bike project come from, and how did it start?

I was inspired by the yarn bombing project from last year. I had been thinking over the winter about creative, maker-themed ways to attract attention and media coverage. I realized that art bikes, and tall bikes specifically would be a great way to do that. Vancouver has a very strong bicycle culture with lots of people already making tall and alternative bicycles here. I figured that a brightly colored, wildly decorated tall bike, with boldly emblazoned across it would be a very effective mobile platform for promoting Maker Faire.

2) Can you talk a bit about the different people that are helping to make this happen?

I have received a lot of support and advice from many quarters, but there are some in particular who have proven invaluable. Nearly all of the old bicycles and parts I have used have come from the Pedal Depot and the UBC Bike Co-op. Huge thanks to both those organizations! Many of the people on the Maker Faire team have been invaluable with support and guidance Emily, Richard and Ben have been awesome at encouraging and motivating me! Christina has done so much for this project, and it’s about to payoff in a big way! I am going to have lots of bikes for her and her creative, artistic people to decorate very soon!  Neal DeGroote has also decorated his own bicycle and let us show it off at the MOV Fundraiser. You may see him riding it around the city as well. Down at the Vancouver Community Lab there’s been many people, like Jim and Conrad who’ve given some very good advice, but the one person who’s made the biggest difference is Ryan Paton.This dude is awesome! He’s been there for every one of our Wednesday evening and Saturday build session (plus lots of other time). He’s given materials, shared expertise and loaned tools and equipment! We’re getting very close to having bikes ready to put out on the street and we wouldn’t be if it weren’t for Ryan! All you have to do is look at the Facebook page and what you see is Ryan, making bikes and riding them!

3) What kinds of skills are you gaining through the process of putting together this project?

Aside from the larger goal of helping Maker Faire, I did have a few personal goals for this project. I wanted to get to know some of the people in the art and bicycle scenes. I wanted to get some experience rallying and motivating people. Mostly I wanted to get a bunch of like-minded strangers together and have them emerge as a large group of bike making fiends! I mean friends!

I also have the goal of learning to make creative alternative bikes. Years ago, I was very into biking but had fallen away from it. I’m wanting to get back into biking in a big way! In 1995 I went on a big bicycle tour, and I’m working on getting a leave of absence from my job to do a big ride this fall. I want to make myself a recumbent bike and ride it 2-3000km. Actually, I’m going to make a fairly normal recumbent bike first (a tour-easy clone), but I have some very ambitious ideas about a hybrid recumbent/upright/cargo/camping solar-powered, arduino-controlled, electric assist bike. There’s a whole lot of things about that bike that I don’t know how to do, (yet) but I’m aiming high and taking it step by step, acquiring skills as I go. First thing – learn to weld old bikes.

4) How many bicycles do you think you will be putting together? Decorating?

Initially, I had been hoping to make 15-20 bikes. I have come to realize that 8-10 is probably more manageable for our first year. We have 4 bikes nearly ready for decorating now, and now that the process is worked out, the rest will materialize quickly. I want to have at least 3 or 4 out on display at various prominent bike racks at any given time, with a few in reserve for weekends, big events and repair (hopefully not necessary, but I’m prepared to repair/replace). We’re going to be aiming for main commuter hubs during the week, making sure to place the bikes out of the way, but in high-visibility locations. Tallbikes are awesome for this as they have no larger a footprint than a normal bike, will not take up any more than a normal footprint at a bike rack, but really stand out! On the weekends, we’ll be targeting events (craft fairs, bike events, sporting events) where there’ll be lots of foot traffic and high-visibility bike racks. I’m looking for suggestions for events, bike-themed or otherwise.

5) What’s your favourite part of this project so far?

I’ve met some amazing people! That’s been the best part by far! This city is full of really awesome, creative people!

I love having an output for my creative energy! sending out ideas and bouncing them around with people is awesome!

All of the bikes we have used have been pulled from the garbage stream. Every single bike was on it’s way to being recycled or trashed. I love to get new value and new life out of old things. We throw away too much stuff. I really love the Pedal Depot and UBC BIke Coop for the invaluable work that they do in this area. They rebuild/recover old bikes and get them to people that need and will use them. It’s an honor to me that I can take the stuff that even they can’t use and make something wonderful out of it.
Least favorite part = I keep burning my arms while welding ’cause I’m a klutz.

Do you want to make an art bike but don’t know how or have the tools/facilities? Come talk to us! Our regular times at the Colab are Wednesday evenings 5-9(ish) and Sundays 10-4(also ish). Also, keep an eye on the Volunteer calendar for more updates and events if you’d like to come help out.

We are looking for bicycles too! If you have some old beast that’s been lurking out back or under your stairs, unloved and unappreciated, let us show it some love!

If you have an idea for some other way you could, or would like to contribute, please let us know! Send Mike an email at

Vancouver Mini Maker Faire Art Bike Project

Vancouver Mini Maker Faire is recruiting Makers to start decorating, building and creating custom bikes, of all shapes and sizes (the crazier the better). Want to get involved? Sign up now!

See what Ryan Made Already!!

Want to learn more about the Art Bike Project? ‘Like‘ the Art Bike Project on Facebook.



Vancouver Mini Maker Faire Fundraiser Awesomeness!

Thanks again to everybody that came out to help support the cause! We’re looking forward to the big event in June at the PNE! Don’t forget about our Call For Makers! Sign up today!



A big thanks to our Sponsors and Donors to our Silent Auction:

The Museum of Vancouver, Got Craft?, West Coast Kits, Make on Granville Island, Raul Granucci, Lee’s Electronics, Mike Zeitz, Solarbotics, Ron Simmer, The Vancouver Tool Library, Jonathan Nakane, Farrell Segall, Brigette from Plush on Main, Sean Sibbet, Steven Smethurst, Heiki Kapp, Varinicey Pakoras, Taser Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, Ben Z CooperCory Doctorow and Baaad Anna’s and Three Bags Full for their Yarn Donations!!



and to Neal De Groot for lending this awesome tall bike which Christina Norberg and Friends yarn-bombed!



And to the Makers that came out!:

David Gowman, Kim Werker and the Mighty Ugly Project, Vincent van Haaff (A flyingoctopus), Dan Royer, West Coast KitsRachel Ashe, Raul Granucci, The Vancouver Experimental Theremin Orchestra, Plush on Main, and the Bright Red Crayon.


And thanks to all of the volunteers who helped out to make this happen as well! Christina Norberg and Mike Z with the Public Art Crew, Arielle, Xianny, Liisa, Richard, Dan, Chris, and everybody else who helped pitched in to make the evening happen. Many thanks!


Photos via Blue Mollusc

Set up for Vancouver Mini Maker Faire Fundraiser at the Museum of Vancouver

Check out all of the groups that are coming out! It’s going to be awesome. Don’t forget to get your tickets in advance! All proceeds go towards making Vancouver Mini Maker Faire happen again!



oh hey and check out this kinect-powered visualization that Vincent van Haaff (A Flying Octopus!) will be showing off!

Kinect/Box2D Mashup, Now With Penciled Outlines! from Vincent van Haaff on Vimeo.

Support Vancouver Mini Maker Faire at our Fundraising Extravaganza!

This Thursday, March 15th, come out to the Museum of Vancouver and help support Vancouver Mini Maker Faire in all of it’s glory! If you can’t make it out to the evening, but would like to help out the cause, we are currently accepting donations through eventbrite.

Vancouver Experimental Theremin Orchestra will be performing at 8:30. Don't miss it!

This evening is an opportunity to meet with some Makers who exhibited in 2011, learn how to get involved, and how to become a Maker in 2012. There will also be  interactive demonstrations, musical performances, hand-made art, hand-carved wooden instruments, altered books, ugly creatures, felting, crafting, a silent auction, give-aways, and more!


5:00pm Doors Open
7:30 Musical Performance by a Flying Octopus
8:00pm Access to MOV exhibits (Art Dec Chic and Neon Vancouver | Ugly Vancouver!) close
8:30pm Performance by Vancouver Experimental Theremin Orchestra
8:45pm Silent auction closes

$10-15 suggested admission. None turned away for lack of funds.

Your donation supports the 2012 Vancouver Mini Maker Faire. Includes admission to MOV’s amazing special exhibitions: Art Dec Chic and Neon Vancouver | Ugly Vancouver!


Call For Contributors: Art Bike Project

Vancouver Mini Maker Faire will be decorating, building and creating custom bikes, of all shapes and sizes (the crazier the better). We are  also looking for people that already have crazy bicycles, to perhaps pimp them out to promote the Maker spirit leading up to the faire. Click here to sign up!

VMMF Art Bike Project’s intentions are to :

  • Promote Maker Faire and other organizations that choose to be involved in the project
  • Promote DIY and the maker movement in general
  • Encourage cross-pollination between bike and art/maker groups
  • Add creative and thought-provoking artwork into the public realm
  • And promote cycling, of course!


What Else We’re Looking For:

  • Groups/individuals who would like to donate bicycle parts (working or not)
  • Groups/individuals who would like to build their own bike
  • Enthusiastic people that want to to help build bikes – experience a plus, but not necessary
  • Help/Ideas/Inspiration for decorating bikes: detailed painting, yarn-bombing/knitting, attaching fun and unusual items
  • Volunteers to shuffle bikes to new locations every couple of days
  • People that just want to decorate their own bikes!


What we need:

  • Bicycle parts/scooter/skateboard parts/wheeled things
  • Printer/Banner materials
  • Silkscreen experts (we have supplies, but need some hands!)
  • Locations to build/store bikes
  • Helmets (Used as props only, so no need to meet safety requirements)
  • Locks


We will be showcasing some of the bikes that are made, for the main event held at the Pacific National Exhibition on June 23rd/24th, 2012.
We already have a few bikes ready for our “Meet your Makers” kick-off party at the Museum of Vancouver on March 15, 2012. It would also be wonderful, if anyone wants to trick-out their own bike (or have us do it up for you) and bring it to the kick-off event!

If you would like to help with this project, click here. Or copy and paste the following link in your browser:

If you have any questions, send an email to or

Vancouver Mini Maker Faire in 2012 at the PNE June 23rd-24th weekend

This year, Vancouver Mini Maker Faire will be held in the Forum Room at the PNE. That’s right. 48 000 square feet of Makery Goodness waiting for Makers to fill it! (And that’s just the indoor space). Don’t forget to fill out your application to be a Maker, as the Call for Makers has just opened!

Thursday, March 15th, 2012 is A Vancouver Mini Maker Faire Fundraiser at the MOV!

Come out to the Museum of Vancouver for drinks, creative musical performances, interactive demonstrations and pakoras! Come out and learn how to apply to be a Maker in 2012, or learn more about how to get involved. Tickets are available in advance or donations can be made at the door. All proceeds go towards the second ever Vancouver Mini Maker Faire which will take place in June of this year at the PNE.