In his Austin studio, donning his safety headgear while applying heat to steel, Nao Tomii looks like an artist at work on a sculpture. And in many ways, that’s exactly what he is. His end product, though, is a beautiful custom bicycle, not a museum showpiece. “The whole bicycle-building process is art,” Tomii explains. The native of Niigata, Japan, actually first worked as an artist, for a sculpture company in Boston, but then turned to bike-making when he began cycling around the city. He brought his small studio to Austin in 2014, where he focuses on creating custom bikes.
In this Made in Texas video, we spend time with Tomii both on a bike and in the Tomii Cycles studio, where he shows us his craft and discusses his philosophy.