A motorcycle show featuring motorcycle builders, rare bike owners, painters, and photographers, honoring the industry and it's crafts by carefully curating it and presenting it to the interested masses. The show takes place in an industrial warehouse just blocks from Lake Erie, providing the perfect urban, gritty setting for this Great Lakes focused show. It is a free event. The Great Lakes region is filled with manufacturing, machine shops, and automotive industry. Despite the foul winter weather, or maybe because of it, gear head ingenuity abounds. Fuel Cleveland aims to drag seldom-seen rare motorcycles and top-quality custom choppers together, along with photography and paint work by some of the top artists in the motorcycle community, to be shown off to like-minded motorcycle enthusiasts. For more information check out the website and give us a follow on Instagram.
What do you specialize in or what is your favorite technique? Airbrush is my specialty. I find that coming up with new ways to use the airbrush is my technique. I have designed and painted a few cut outs of aluminum that I am excited about. When my schedule allows I will do more of those. You may have seen them in the Michael Lichter show in Sturgis, or the Dave Mann show in California.
When did art find you or did you find art? Graffiti. I saw it, I knew it was done with a can of spray paint, so the more intense work I saw, the more attracted to it I became. The more I wanted to break down the production, and create my own pieces on paper that I could figure out what to paint first, second, and so forth to get the best end result. I love the production of something, knowing why you are putting it there, and how much, and so on...painting with a purpose.
Who or what inspires you and your style? People, the owners of a machine or buyer of a piece of art inspire design. Motorcycles, themselves often tell you what they want on them if you pay attention. Tradition, depth, realism, motorcycle builders, tattoo artists.
Do you feel like you have found your style or are you still searching? I have not found it, but I am not searching either. I am constantly breaking down the production of many styles, and recreating them in different scales. I just donâ€™t see myself as an artist that has this one style that is what makes me unique. I think my style is diverseâ€¦it's more safe. I can do more if I am open to other peoples ideas. I have done lots of photo realistic paintings. Portraits, automobiles, naked ladies, pinups, memorials, I simply need to stay working, keep everything I put out in some form of high quality, and make a little money for my family.
What is the most challenging thing for you when it comes to painting? I have too many ideas. I sometimes struggle to choose what is my favorite idea for the project.
Where did your love for motorcycles come from? College, sunday afternoon, going to some dragon boat races on the Mississippi with my gal. Couple showed up at her house on a rigid, cone shovel chopper with straight drag pipes. The bike, a timeless, classic chopper...I watched, listened, and witnessed a sense of freedom that I had never been so close to. I paid attention. I got mine now. I will have it forever, to share.
What was the first motorcycle you have ever owned?
What was special about it and/or not so special about it haha. It was a 1200 Sportster. It was owned by a factory sponsored motocross rider. The dealership is Metro Suzuki / Harley-Davidson. He never rode it. It was flawless. My brother and I talked him out of it. It lead me to my Panhead.
When did you start mixing art with motorcycles?
I rode to a big party on Memorial Day in Stone City, Iowa. The streets were lined with Harley's. The live music had me in good spirits, and I was lit. I decided to split the crowd. I wondered into the street and went from taking in the view of the mass number of motorcycles lining both sides of the street, to studying the details of the machines individually. The glaring reality of the fact that the few bikes that had any hand painted art on them was clearly a booze induced experiment. I wanted to try to put my artwork on bikes.
Whatâ€™s one of your all time favorite paint jobs you have ever done?
There are so many. But the most memorable was Miss Behavin' built by Billy Lane. This was about 2002. I just came off a 580 square foot mural I painted to commemorate the 100 anniversary of Harley-Davidson. I got paid, bought a trailer, put my '94 Nostalgia Special in it and drove through a blizzard to get to bike week in Daytona. No plans, no traveling partners, no time frame. One goal. Meet Billy Lane and thank him for putting some style into the motorcycle market again. This guy was no one hit wonder. He has the same illness I have. Lots of ideas. We met in an alley off Main Street. He had a 10 x10 booth set up with a handful of leaking shovels parked around it. The bikes were dripping with style. Every single one of them. I was so happy to see where the market was going next! Not stock. He had just received the Easyrider's Builder of the Year award when I met him. I knew it was only the beginning of what he could do. I complimented Billy on many of the hand made details in the builds, the addition of car parts used as decor and the choice of using shovel head power plants!!! All the crazy shit he was doing...I loved it all! He said, "you must be some sort of artist?" I said, "well, ya, I am an artist of sort." I gave him some shit about having a sticker of a pinup on the blue long bike. He said "what are you saying? Can you paint that on there?" I said, "sure I can." My first pinup was painted on Miss Behavin' for the first ever episode of Biker Build Off. I owe Billy for not only giving me an opportunity to paint a very well publicized motorcycle, but for introducing me to many talented people in this industry.
Where is one place you would like to ride to and havenâ€™t had the chance to yet?
The California coast. I have been to Born Free, but with 3 kids, my wife gets stuck at home so I fly in and fly out.
If you could only own one bike for the rest of your life what would it be and why?
My Heritage Softail Nostalgia Special. Because I overpaid for a used motorcycle that was made to replicate something of value. I will own that one forever to always remind me to be mindful of my goals, because I will achieve them.
Whoâ€™s one person you looked up to when you were a kid? Did you get to meet them or know them in any point of your life?
Evel Knievel and yes, I met him!
Is there any life mottos or codes you live by? People will see what you did. Not what you are going to do. Be humble and kind.
Are you a pizza delivery or make pizza at home kind of guy?
My wife, Michelle, and our kids make the best pizza at home.
Anyone you would like to give a shout out to or thank?
Family first, I come from a family of 8 kids, and my parents, brothers, and sisters help make me who I am. Thank you to my wife who is an amazing woman, with talents that far surpass anything I could ever do, so I have to work pretty hard to not look like a total loser. My 3 great kids, for hanging out at the shop. Also Jeff Cochran, Tim Anding, Paul Wideman, Billy Lane, Indian Larry, John Parham, Jeff Wright, Casey Fleming, Kevin Baas, Josh Rinas, Heather Slater, Tyler Chekal, and Fuel Cleveland! Also, all of my loyal customers, for believing in my work.
Where can people follow you and see more of your work?
After high school, I decided to give art school a try. I thought I would fully embrace in the â€œartist lifeâ€ and further develop my skills. Ha, not so much!! I was completely wrong. After a few years of being told by a professor I had no talent, I became your classic art school dropout. For about three years I rarely picked up a pencil. As I stepped away from my sketchbook, I ended up picking up a film camera. I was eager to learn something new and creative so I ended up taking a night class where I developed my own film and learnt the ways of an enlarger.
After some time had passed I decided to give school another shot, but instead of art I moved towards design. This is also where I started to fall in love with art all over again. With a fresh new approach I was picking up pencils, paintbrushes, charcoal, chalk, pastels pretty much anything I could get my hands on. I graduated from Emily Carr with a Bachelors of Design in Interaction Design. This lead me to my current career as an Interaction Designer specializing in User Experience and User Interface design. The last few years Iâ€™ve been working in the health design field; learning and designing interactive web and mobile interfaces that are tailored to chronic diseases. To continue to challenge myself and my design skills I do freelance work in other creative fields outside of health design. Who or what influences your styles and ideas when it comes your designs?
S: I get a lot of inspiration from my surroundings. Although,I find myself always drawn to ancient Egyptian art whether itâ€™s from their sculptures, architecture and paintings. In my work you will notice that Mehndi designs are also very prominent.
You are very intricate and immaculate when it comes tiny details in your work, do you feel like the small pieces take more time then the larger ones or is all relative to the time and design you are doing?
S: The small details probably take about the same amount of time, but they are what I enjoy the most. Small details make the biggest impact and for me are what takes a piece from looking great to making something look spectacular, polished and unique. Whatâ€™s your all time favorite piece you have ever created?
S: Oooooo, probably a skate deck design I did up for a new snowboard, skate and surf company a few years back. To my disappointment, it was never released, haha classic! So itâ€™s just been sitting in my sketchbook for the last few years.
Are there any new techniques or skills you have been working on or learning lately?
S: Lately, Iâ€™ve been mainly focusing on the art of engraving. Iâ€™ve been etching for a while now, but finally got to a point where I felt like I was outgrowing my tools and was looking for a different final result. I ended up moving away from my dremel for a while to try an airgraver. The final result is something completely different that surprised even myself. Itâ€™s all I think about lately and what I youtube constantly haha. I keep plugging away trying to get more hours under my belt and see how far I can push this new tool. What do you find most challenging about art?
S: What I find most challenging about art is knowing when to walk away. Whether itâ€™s from a painting, a drawing, or from a commissioned piece. Knowing when to walk away or keep going full force is something Iâ€™ve had to learn the hard way and am constantly still working on.
When did motorcycles come into your life? What was your first bike?
S: Motorcycles came into my life about 7-8 years ago. I started off as a passenger on the back of my boyfriend's, now fiance's bike. Every time I jumped on the back, it would completely clear our mind. Fresh air blowing on my face, and this indescribable feeling of connection between the three of us. Itâ€™s as if we would all become in sync with one another and moved as one unit. Iâ€™ve never been one to sit on the sidelines, so it was only a matter of time before I wanted get behind the bars. My first bike, Janette, was a forest green 1980 Yamaha XS400. She was a crusty old bitch. Often left me sitting on the curb calling the better half, while he laughed hysterically on the other end.
The roads in Vancouver are unreal and I can't wait to go back and explore more, what are some of your favorite places to go for a ride up there that you would recommend?
S: For a quick escape from the city, I like to rip the Lower Marine Rd. to Horseshoe Bay. However, the topper of all roads is the â€œSea to Skyâ€; then cut off up to Squamish Valley Rd. to hit some dirt and be completely surrounded by the forest greens, waterfalls and wildlife .
When did you start combining them together, art and motorcycles?
S: I'm a very visual person so when I donâ€™t understand the complexity of something I often have to draw it out. As I started to take more interest and curiosity in motorcycles, I started to draw and paint them to better understand its complex components. Taking note of each motorcycles different lines and curves and how all its components connect with one another, I started to see motorcycles more sculpturally rather than engine type or brand. As my perspective of motorcycles changed, I became more comfortable leaving my mark on them. This changed my perspective on what my canvas could be. I moved towards wearables, painting on helmets, leather burning on boots and gloves and now of course, hand engraving on steel, aluminum and glass. Whereâ€™s one place on your bucket list you must see?
S: Egypt. Whatâ€™s your ultimate dream machine?
S: My ultimate dream machine would consist of converting an old school bus into a house on wheels, with a garage component in the back with just enough room for two bikes. This ultimate dream machine would travel on whatever road it can make it on. When it canâ€™t, the bikes come out and the adventure continues.
What other hobbies or skills do you have that most people wouldnâ€™t know about you?
S: Well Iâ€™ve dabbled in a lot of different mediums over the years and all of them have had some sort of impact on where Iâ€™m at now. I also do a lot of leather burning, painting, typography, photography, sculpting, drawingâ€¦ list goes on. But not art related I love spending time in our garden. Whats some advice you would give to yourself if you could go back in time to when you were 13?
S: I would probably encourage my 13 year old self to pick up the pencil more often and loosen up a bit. Allow yourself to make mistakes and learn from them. Not everything you create has to be spectacular or complete. Is there any life mottos or codes that you live by?
S: Live a life that feels right to me, not one that looks right to everyone else. Are you food truck or sit down restaurant kinda gal?
S: I go where the food is good. Is there anyone you want to give a shout out to or thank?
S: A BIG THANK YOU has to go out to you, Mikey Revolt! We had the opportunity to meet last summer over here in Vancouver and right from the get-go we were both so hyped on each other's works. You reaching out to me on this opportunity to make my mark on a tank with nothing but excitement and support, which in-turn has really made me push myself outside of my comfort zone on this piece. Where can people keep up with you and your artwork?
S: I keep Instagram up to date mostly with what I am currently working on @_sbcreative
We are extremely excited to finally announce the entire list of bike builders and owners that will be showcasing their bikes at Fuel Cleveland on May 28th. We strive to curate this show with a diverse and wide range of motorcycles. We look at everything from history of a bike to the fabrication and craftsmanship of the builders. What's in the show you ask? Well I will hint that there will be your favorite Shovels, Pans and Knuckle head choppers. Along with BMWs, Triumphs and even a 2 stroke Suzuki. We love motorcycles of all kinds and try our hardest to put together a little something for everyone. We even have a few amazing survivors in the mix. So, bring the family out for a great time and check out some of the coolest motorcycles this country has to offer. We hope to see everyone at Rays MTB!
Fuel Cleveland goes from 12-8pm and is free to everyone to attend thanks to our sponsors.
Whatâ€™s your history with motorcycles and what got you into them/building them? S: My Father bought a Honda QA-50 for my brother and me to share when I was 8. I just kept getting bigger bikes as I got older.
As far as building bikes, I went to a yard sale one day down the road from my house. I met a neighbor who was building a custom motorcycle in his garage with his son. His son was stationed in Iraq and could only work on the bike when he came back stateside. I offered my assistance to help out with the build. I would go over there a few nights a week and weekends to work on the bike with his father. After the bike was completed I decided that I wanted to build one of my own.
Over the years what do you say is the hardest or most challenging thing about building for you? S: Finding the time to work on my bike. My builds always take the back seat to making parts.
Where does your style of building come from or is there anything or anyone you look for inspiration? S: Choppaheads, Factory Metal Works and Angry Monkey Cycles are all making beautiful Triumphs.
Inspiration comes from guys like Mike over at 47 Industries. His work ethic and craftsmanship is top notch. Mike works 24/7 and his shop is always open. Austin Martin Originals, who like me, holds down a full time job and works nights and weekends building bikes. Jay Roche from Special79 has unbelievable skills and has never been afraid to share them. Derik Seiber is killing it with the custom the parts he`s been making. Instagram is full of inspiring people to follow, just too many to list.
Where are some of your favorite places to ride?
S: Back roads of Connecticut.
Tell us about one of your all time favorite memories while riding. S: When I bought my first Harley, I was invited to ride up to Laconia with a local motorcycle club. These guys invited me and one of my friends as guest of the club and they treated us like members. There were hang arounds and prospects doing all kinds of things for the club, but we were off limits and all they let us do was party. They let us ride at the back of the pack and I got my first dose of hardcore biking. I remember on the way up all you could smell was oil burning and the cloud of smoke coming from the pack. When we got there, are faces were black from this. These guys all had old Harleyâ€™s that they wrenched on themselves.
We camped out and headed into town and just checked out the scene. This was back when cops were few and far between. The main drag was out of control, to say the least. On the way back it was pouring out. The pack just cruised at about 65-70 mph. I remember holding my hand in front of my face, while getting blasted from the rain for about 2 hours. That was my first dose of hanging out with real bikers.
Is there a place you have never been to in the world and you must go to before you kick the bucket? S: Nope, pretty much a hermit. I have everything I need right at home.
Your welding game is pretty damn strong, any tips of the trade you would like to share?
S: I tell everyone to go to Youtube and check out all the free videos available to get started. After that, just lay down as many beads as you can. Keep experimenting with all the different techniques available on line.
Whatâ€™s something else you are into or enjoy doing?
S: Just spending time with my family,
Dream machine, do you have one already or is it something that you are looking forward to building or owning?
S: Harley Davidson WLA Flathead.
Any big projects or things in the works you would like to share?
S: Ramping up on sheet metal tools in the shop. I am on a personal quest to learn as much as I can about working with sheet metal.
Since you are from New England, which clam chowder do you prefer, the white or the red kind? ahaha S: White Chowda, salt, peppa, vinaga and ketchup on my clam cakes and fries.
Anyone you would like to give a shout out to or thank? S: Everyone over at Fuel Cleveland for the invite. My wife and family for their total support. Lowbrow Customs, Factory Metal Works, Choppaheads, Seven Sins Choppers, Throttle Addiction and Licks Custom Cycles for believing in my parts enough to sell them. Patrick Noonan Photography for making my parts and Bikes look so good. Walter Yehle for teaching me machining skills. Steve Jordan for teaching me machining, sheet metal, and painting skills. Gilbert Dion for welding and fabrication knowledge.
Can you tell us a little about Death Co.'s history?
D: The Triple Six Crew Death Co. name was first used in the mid to late 90's. There were a bunch of us in my hometown who skated everyday and that is just the name that we called ourselves. It took on a few more shapes throughout the years but primarily it has been synonymous with a group of like minded individuals just looking to have a good time. It was about 5 or so years ago I decided to really push it and turn it into something greater. Back then I was hand screen printing patches in my basement. I would do small runs of shirts for mostly friends and shit like that. From there it just kind of turned into this ten-headed beast and it is where it is today.
Where do you see Death Co. going? Is it something you plan on doing as a full-time gig one day or are you already there?
D: I've got a full-time day gig like most guys. Death Co. is just something that I do in my downtime.
What is the craziest thing you have ever seen come through your email or DM because of Death Co.?
D: You know I get asked this question a lot. I'll just say this â€“ if you can imagine it, I've gotten it.
Where did your love for motorcycles come from, is there any history there you can share?
D: I wasn't born into the motorcycle culture like a lot of guys. I didn't grow up ripping around on dirt bikes either. My stepdad had a harley when I was growing up and I remember being fascinated with all of his old stories and whatnot. If I had to guess, I'd say that it started there.
When did you start building your own motorcycles?
D: I picked up my first bike about 12 years ago. A bone stock Sportster that I rode the shit out of as is for years. It wasn't until a few years later that I actually started working on and modifying them.
Where do you get your inspiration from when it comes to building bikes?
D: Inspiration comes from everywhere. Your friends, dudes you dig on on the internet, shit guys built in the past.
What was your favorite version of this bike because it's gone through a few changes. I feel like the swing arm version was way more comfy, am I right?
D: Even though the swing arm version was comfy as fuck, it's current state is by far my favorite.
Whatâ€™s your all-time favorite traveling moment on two wheels? D: It'll sound cliche as hell, but anytime I'm on my bike is my favorite time.
What is up with the I-270 curse when it comes to the Columbus crew? Itâ€™s like the Bermuda Triangle, bikes donâ€™t leave that area without some kind of crazy breakdown or story.
D: The I-270 curse is the fucking worst. It's like Murphy's Law when it comes to choppers.
Whatâ€™s the most ridiculous breakdown you have encountered in your crew?
D: Let's just say this, one year it took us approximately 24 hours to go 170 miles.
Whatâ€™s one place you have never been and want to go on your motorcycle?
D: Anything out west, I haven't had the chance to experience much riding outside of the Midwest.
Who did you look up to when you were a kid?
D: My twin brother and my old man.
What life mottos or codes do you live by?
D: Get Fucked!
Tell us about the garage space you share. Do you guys learn a lot from each other and whatâ€™s the vibe like there?
D: There are about ten of us that all share a spot at the Rice Paddy right outside of campus here in town. There's always something going on and there is definitely a plethora of knowledge floating around in that place. We are all just a bunch of grown ass men acting like 12 year olds all the time.
Name your all-time favorite spot to eat in Columbus?
D: Villa Nova. A rad Italian joint in the Cliftonville.
When it comes to alcohol are you a beer, booze, or both kinda guy?
D: Whiskey.. always Whiskey.
Is there anyone you would like to give a shout-out to or thank?
D: Anyone who has ever supported Death Co. in any way shape or form.
Where can people follow you and more of your shenanigans?
Come celebrate Lowbrow Customsâ€™ 12th year Anniversary & Grand Opening of their new showroom and building the day after Fuel Cleveland. Enter the ride-in motorcycle show (free to all to enter) with a grand prize of $500 in Lowbrow store credit going to the best bike! DJ Wolfboy Slim will be spinning 60â€™s surf and rock nâ€™ roll records all day while the Barrio Taco Truck will be serving their amazing tacos. Mark it on your calendars and be sure to ride south the day after Fuel CLE and check out the new showroom for some new Lowbrow parts and swag. The party starts at 11 a.m. and goes until 4 p.m. with the bike show judging at 3 p.m. Lowbrow Customs is located at 2873 Interstate Pkwy, Brunswick, Ohio 44212. Be there or be square!