Zeke Smith




Favorite Bike: Verge S11i
Favorite Gear: Bottle Opener, Kanga Rack

Zeke Smith

Illustrator/Graphic Artist
Eureka, California

Time to meet the man behind the logo. Zeke Smith, a member of Tern’s Art Department, talks about how close Tern came to being known as Wildebeest, his first bike, and cool things to do out in Northern California.Tern Berd: I’ve heard that you were responsible for the name and design of the origami logo for Tern – what was your inspiration? Zeke Smith: I can’t take full credit there – it was definitely a team effort. We were sitting poolside at a rented house in Las Vegas brainstorming naming ideas late into the night. A tangential discussion with Neil [Techawongtham] led us to the idea of migratory animal names. I reached into my bag of random nature facts and pulled out the name “Tern”, which is the world-champion of migratory animals. “Wildebeest” doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. [Ed. Note: Zeke is also an accomplished illustrator of biology textbooks, so his random knowledge is truly encyclopedic.] The legend of how the origami style logo came to be grows by the day. One version goes something like this: With a piece of paper in hand, I must have nodded off during the meeting. In front of me was a Sasquatch, riding a unicorn, beneath a double rainbow. When I awoke, I realized my hands had magically folded the paper, and there it was! Our talented art team (Sean, Neil, and I) spent many weeks obsessing over details to create the Tern logo you see today. TB: How long have you been riding bikes? Do you remember your first one? Zeke: I guess I was around four or so when I got my first two-wheeler. It was a second-hand yellow Schwinn with big tall handlebars and a banana seat. It survived numerous wipeouts and ghost-rides over dirt jumps, but didn’t do so well when I left it in the driveway behind my dad’s truck.  In the days before everybody was lawsuit-crazy, my rural elementary school had a BMX track. The students, teachers, and members of the community pulled together to build it in a corner of the school property and it was fantastic! Suddenly I needed a BMX bike, so I spent my summer sweeping sawdust in my dad’s woodshop and collecting aluminum cans along the roadside to earn the money for it. I was a lot more careful about where I parked that one, too. TB: Let’s talk about what you do at Tern. Your “duties” include creating user manuals, illustration, bike styling, decal creation, and Photoshopping product photography, among other things. Seems like a lot to handle – what’s the most challenging part of what you do?  Zeke: Juggling numerous time-sensitive projects and communicating with team members across the globe can be challenging at times. We’re getting pretty good at it though. TB: You’re based in Northern California, right? Any suggestions for cool things to do out there? Zeke: Sure. Camp out to get a nice early start. At dawn do some whitewater rafting, then get on a bike and ride down to the beach and catch some waves! If you’re not fond of ice cold water and sharks, you might prefer a trip to one of our great local breweries and a round of disc golf.