Friday, 25 March 2016

Sideburn Designer: Kar Lee

The new issue of Sideburn, #24, lands this week. This is the first one designed by Kar Lee. Kar is an old friend and colleague of mine, he's helped Sideburn since day one and came up with Dwayne the limping mascot that has been on every spine of Sideburn since issue 1.

Here is an introductory interview with Kar. G

Where are you from and where are you at? 
My folks are from Hong Kong, I was born in the mighty city of Liverpool and have somehow ended up in Peterborough, via London.

Is there a history of motorbikes in the family, if not, what attracted you to them? 
No history at all. A taz around the block on a twist-and-go scooter was the tipping point to a T-reg Honda SS50 in 1982. It cost £90 which was an awful lot of money to a 16 year-old back then and if I still had it today it’d be worth ten times that.
How long were you a courier (above second from right)?
After art college in London I worked a few jobs to pay the rent. Most were in retail on Oxford St but there was also a six month stint as a courier. I had probably the most unsuitable machine for the job, a peaky two-stroke RG250 Gamma. Sure enough it seized in a big way while maxed out on the A3. I hired a nice Honda Revere shaft drive thing after that, made just enough money to cover the rental cost then jacked it all in when a packaging design job came up in Camden. I designed gift vouchers and pizza boxes for Tesco for two years.

How did you become a magazine designer?
I used to park my bike – a Yamaha Turbo, outside the studio in Camden in a bike parking bay. It was a lottery whether it’d still be standing by the end of the day so I started leaving it on the pavement right outside then one day got a parking ticket. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I moved to Peterborough and spent a decade designing RiDE, Bike and Performance Bikes, amongst other mags.
What bikes do you own and what do you enjoy doing with them most?
I have three bikes in the garage. A 2006 GSX-R which is modified for track use, though it’s still a road bike. It’s got 28,000 miles on it now, almost half of those are on track. I like to tour the Alps too, though that’s been on hold for a while now. There’s also a YammaGamma – a Yamaha 350YPVS motor in a Suzuki 250 Gamma frame (see below). Since getting it painted it hasn’t turned a wheel but looks nice in the garage. Well it would if it wasn’t covered in old bedsheets. The last bike is a 2015 Aprilia Tuono V4 Factory (above). It’s amazing. What’s even more amazing is that it was a gift from my wife for our 10th anniversary. I’m very, very lucky.

Who is faster, you or your wife? 
On two wheels, I am, but it’s close. In a car, she is, but it’s close.

Did you once have a Dainese logo shaped flower bed?
Haha… how on earth did you remember that? About ten years ago I had an overgrown lawn, it was like a jungle. I just mowed a Dainese Devil into it for a laugh. It’s a cool logo, well worthy of a conservatory window too...
Is your house named after your favourite race track?
I met my wife at Folembray circuit in France 18 years ago and we’ve been going almost every year since. Also, my house number is 14 and in Chinese 14 translates very negatively – it literally means death (tower blocks in Hong Kong very often miss out the 14th floor entirely) so we named our house after the circuit instead.
Are you a little bit obsessed?
Aren’t we all beautifully obsessed over something?

See Kar's work by buying the 116-page Sideburn 24. G


Mick P said...

Great to work with Kar again. I think we first worked together just over 20 years ago on Bike magazine, when he and his silver Yamaha Turbo joined the mag. Twenty years? Good grief.

Marcus @ MarcusMotoDesign said...

Great news! Kar makes very very good motorcycle design sketches as well! It was those and the obsessions bike articles (got my own in there as well) that got me into subscribing Performance Bikes years ago! Please get him to make a bunch of motorcycle sketches with street tracker theme for Sideburn! That would be awesome!