Behind the Cover Shoot

When we decided to launch a magazine, one of the first things we thought about, apart from our masthead and logo, was what was going to be on our first ever cover!?!?

Our first impression, our introduction to the world… the pressure was on!

COVER no border FINAL.jpg
The end result!


When I was designing the masthead and logo for ‘We Love Llŷn’, I needed a dummy cover (or five) so I could mock up a faux magazine to make sure it all worked well on a real life (pretend) magazine! Out of the stock photos I chose (and oh – there were many!) There was one picture that caught my eye and sparked my imagnation…

mock up Spring DRAFT2 copy.jpg
My fakey magazine cover

…A bike leant up against a tree looking like it’s owner had just been shopping for a fabulous picnic. The wheels started turning in my imagination at once – a lovely looking bike against a local backdrop could look gorgeous for a spring cover.

My mood board on Pinterest

I set to work putting together some inspirational images of vintage bikes with various different things in their baskets. But where was I going to find a lovely looking bike like the ones on Pinterest? I could hardly use my old rusty mountain bike, it had seen better days

……..or could I??


Living by the sea may be a prefered retirement plan for humans but for bikes it means salt and salt means corrosion and rust! It still functioned but it had definitely seen better days.

After googling various ‘how to’s’ on the best ways to respray a bike, I had formulated a plan. There was no getting round the fact that the bike needed to be taken apart to be painted, this was a job where even the most creative masking taping would not do. I could have attempted to take it apart myself (I’m known in my household as the queen of Ikea flat pack furniture assembly) but there was no way I could get the bike back together again to resemble a bike, let alone be ride-able once again. (after all, it needed at least a screwdriver, possibly a spanner, and all Ikea furniture needs is an allen key – and determination!)

It became apparent I needed a proffesional. Gary at Llŷn Cycle Centre in Pwllheli was delighted to offer me all the advice I needed, and being the expert on all things bicycles he of course was the best person to take my bike apart for me.

Time to get my hand’s dirty. Or not, because I have marigolds…

Once I had the pieces of my bike back (rather sad seeing my beloved bike fit into a large carrier bag…) I set to work. I’m going to go into a bit of detail in case anybody at home wants to try re-painting their own bikes! Feel free to skip the next (colour coded blue) part if you dont want to hear me go on about my new-found bike painting skills.. 😉

How I did it:

The main frame of the bike was covered in stickers it had come with when I bought it, and after breaking a few fingernails trying to pick them off I discovered that it was way easier with a hairdryer to soften the glue.

Wish I had thought of this earlier…..

After that is was important to sand down the whole of the existing paintwork I was going to re-cover. For this I used wet and dry sandpaper, so as not to give it too rough a finish. For the plastic elements I wanted to paint there was no need to sand.

After sanding I gave the whole frame a good scrub and clean, there needed to be no dirt or grease in sight in order for the paint to stick. I also washed the plastic parts I wanted to paint well.

I used masking tape to cover parts that didn’t need painting, such as the moving parts where the pedals go and parts that had threading for screws.

Then it was time to start the painting! I took the parts to my dad’s shed which is well ventilated, but if you are trying this at home, always remember to use a face mask when spray painting anything, even if you are outside. The plastic parts needed a plastic primer on them, to stop any topcoats from cracking when they dried, so on that went.

The equipment! ^

I applied the base primer to the metal frame in short bursts, always moving the can and shaking it periodically, making sure I held the can at a good distance, not too close to the surface. I waited for the first side to dry for a few hours then went back to turn the frame over and do the other side. I let the first coat of primer dry for 24hrs and went back the next evening to apply another. By this time the plastic primer had set so I applied a coat of regular primer to those as well. I made sure the bike frame was covered evenly, easy to do when the original coat was blue and the primer was white.


The next evening meant colour time! I used kobra spray paint in ‘green’ for the metal frame (it is more like a turquoisey colour) and white for the plastic parts. Again I used a nice steady motion and kept the can a good distance away from the bike frame. Its important not to get impatient and move the spray can closer to get more coverage quicker, as this will cause the paint to drip and you wont get a lovely even finish. Again I waited for the first side to dry for an hour or two before turning the frame over to do the other side. I made sure I moved around the frame to get at it from every angle, so I got a good coverage. I repeated the spray painting procedure for another coat the next evening, then waited another day to apply the topcoat.

Last coat!

The topcoat wasn’t too glossy which I was very pleased with, I wanted a matte finish- but it was important to get a topcoat on there to protect the bike from the elements.

If I inspire you to re-vamp your old bike, do let me know!

Once dry the bike went back to Gary at Llŷn Cycle Centre, he very promptly and skillfully re-assembled it and then it was time to whisk it away for it’s close up.


On it’s way back to Llyn Cycle Centre!


Ebay was my best friend for the bike’s new accessories. The new seat, handles and basket in total costing me under £20. Bargain!

The finished bike

The Photoshoot

I wanted to think carefully about the contents of the bike’s basket. This is a local magazine so I wanted the produce I purchased for the basket to support the idea of buying local. I went to Lili Wen Florists in Porthmadog where they helped me assemble a perfect bunch of spring flowers. While I was there I popped next door to the greengrocers to buy some fruit, I bought a French baguette from a  little local supermarket and a bottle of ‘Celteg’ Welsh sparkling wine from Gwin Llŷn Wines in Pwllheli.


We watched the weather forecast carefully, selecting provisionally a day midweek that looked like there was going to be a break in the rain we had been having, and that our lovely photographer Phil Pownall was available. The day before the forecast remained sunny so we gave Phil the go ahead and the photoshoot was all systems go!

We decided not to include the bollard

All went relatively well on the day, apart from waiting for some clouds to move into their *ideal* positioning, and a bit of wind constantly trying to topple the bike over. (the one thing I forgot to buy for it – a new kickstand!) Unfortunately, the wind was eventually victorious and we worked out by looking at the photos that we probably got our winning cover shot moments before the wind sent the bike toppling over and the bottle of fizz smashing to the floor! 😦 There goes our post-photoshoot reward…

Phil sent me the final photographs and after a touch of computer magic we have what you see before you – the finished magazine. We put a lot of work into the whole thing, so we hope you enjoy reading it.


Oh, and what have I learned from this experience? Always bring spare bubbly. 😉


-Lauren x