On a recent trip to Eugene, I stopped in at Arriving by Bike and came across a pack of beautiful greeting cards featuring illustrations of bicycles. The cards were in a display featuring the artist, a young woman who traveled internationally and was inspired by the bicycles she saw in cities like Copenhagen. The young woman is Tala Schlossberg, who’s generously agreed to donate a pack of the cards to our upcoming Alice Awards & Auction.I recently interviewed Tala with the help of her father Marc, who facilitated our conversation while Tala was intensely busy on a 4-month study abroad program in Israel.
Bicycle Transportation Alliance: Tell me a little about the trip that inspired the cards. When did you travel and where did you go?
Tala Schlossberg: I’ve been to the Netherlands and Denmark twice. In 2010, my family spent the year living in the United Kingdom and we were able to travel a lot in Europe. My dad was always taking pictures of bike lanes and bike share stations in England, Italy, and Spain, but I didn’t really notice the bikes until we went to Copenhagen.
Bikes were everywhere, all types of people were on them, and there were so many different kinds. In 2012, my family went back and spent a week each in Copenhagen, Amsterdam, and Utrecht; my dad was actually teaching a study abroad course for U.S. college students, so I biked around those three cities a lot, sometimes with the students and sometimes just with my family. It was a lot of fun and easy once I got used to having so many people around me on bikes and the norms of how things work.
BTA: What was it about bikes, or bicycling, that inspired you to make the cards?
TS: I love to draw and one day I just started messing around creating different types of bikes. I made a Dutch bike, cargo bike, and racing bike with just pen on paper and using a style I call “whitespacing” to fill in some of the solid areas with different designs.
My parents liked them, framed them, and put them up on a wall in our house and whenever guests came over they asked if we had bought the pictures during our travels abroad.
BTA: “Transportation” isn’t a topic a lot of people get excited about, but we all need to get around from place to place. Did the trip make you think differently about transportation options, or getting around a city? If so, how?
TS: Honestly, I don’t think too much about transportation, although I often hear my dad talk about how bad the designs are for pedestrians or cyclists wherever we go. He teaches these topics at the University of Oregon, so I must pick up on some of them, but I actually don’t want to be known as “that bike girl” just because I have made these bike drawings.
In my daily life, I have always lived within a half mile of school and walked, and occasionally I appreciate that fact when my friends come over after school and tell me how lucky I am to live so close to everything and can get around without a parent having to take me.
When we were in Europe we mostly walked, took local busses or light rail, or took trains between cities and it all seemed easy to use. Last summer we went to New York City and Washington DC and it also seemed perfectly normal to take subways and walk everywhere. So, I probably don’t think that much about transportation because I haven’t had to, but maybe that will change when I get older and decide on the places I want to live.
BTA: Do you think getting around by bike is a practical option for most people in Oregon? Why or why not?
TS: Compared to what I saw in Denmark and the Netherlands, hardly anyone is on a bike in Oregon. What was so nice biking over there was that there always seemed to be a place for people on bikes to use that was separated from traffic and that those paths were on every street, not just a few. There were all kinds of people riding also, which makes it seem more accepted as a way to get around.
In Eugene, we don’t have any paths like I saw overseas except for the one along the river, so I guess it’s not surprising that there are not more types of people who feel safe and comfortable riding.
BTA: Do you have any plans for other projects coming up? Any other exciting travel planned?
TS: I am actually in Israel at the moment, finishing up my sophomore year in high school on a 4-month program. It’s been amazing so far. For transportation it’s mostly busses, taxis, and walking. In June, I will be meeting my mom in Spain and we are going to walk 450 miles along the Camino de Santiago.
I’m not sure about future projects. I am always drawing and have many other “whitespaced” designs that I could share with others – intricate faces, eyes, birds, a cool lion, and more.
I know that I’m not looking forward to going back to high school in Eugene and want to keep traveling, so perhaps I need to find a way to keep selling cards or somehow license my work to raise enough money to keep being able to travel as part of my high school education. The problem is that I prefer drawing much more than selling, so I guess I am waiting for the magical person to show up and buy a design for their new international clothing line or something.
Thank you for including me in the Alice Awards & Auction!
You can check out Tala’s cards and more at the Alice Awards & Auction on May 31st.