In every walk of life, connections are made, and some flourish into friendships over the years. What starts off as a simple comment or sharing of one's work can blossom into a working relationship. Sure, not every person you interact with becomes your friends, but you cherish those that do. I've been fortunate to meet, work with, and become close friends with Mikey Arnold, known to most as Mikey Revolt. My first contact with Mikey was during Pinned Ohio in 2013. Bear Haughton was on location representing his company Old Bike Barn and was covering the event in CC's behalf, and Mikey was in attendance. Bear was posting photos through Old Bike Barn's Instagram account and was tagging CC and Pinned. I started going through the hashtags to share photos from the day and stumbled upon Mikey's account. Needless to say, I spent the next 30 minutes going through his whole feed, and became an instant (haha get it?!) fan. I loved how Mikey captured everyone in their natural state, and his attention to detail. I then moved on to his blog Forever The Chaos Life and proceeded to read the entire thing. After reviewing his body of work, I came to the conclusion that Mikey enjoyed life to the fullest. He also enjoyed riding with his wife Kat and friends, and his photos showcased his chaotic but fabulous life. I had Bear introduce me to Mikey, and I inquired with Mikey about contributing to the site. I remember asking Mikey "What are some of the goals you would like to achieve with your career?" and Mikey responded, " I would like to publish a high-quality, hardbound coffee table style book from Forever The Chaos Life and my journeys." I thought to myself "wow this kid has ambition," and we both agreed to move forward. Mikey covered numerous events on CC's behalf, and introduced us to talented builders over the next two years. Our working relationship turned into a friendship that I treasure today. Mikey is a prime example that if you put your mind to something you can achieve your goals. Mikey joined the staff at Lowbrow Customs last year and continued to document his journey through life. Mikey is about to make good on his ambitions and release his first book, LEGENDS, so I thought it would only be fitting to do a one-on-one with my brother from another mother. Enjoy!
What is your title at Lowbrow Customs?
My official title is “Photographer / Videographer”. I am in charge of all social media aspects of the company along with helping create content for our blog and forums. I’m the sole photographer when it comes to event coverage and product photography. I’m also in charge of all the video content you see on Lowbrow’s YouTube channel, from product overviews, to tech tips, to ridiculous commercials. It’s definitely a ton of work, but a lot of fun and I can be creative a lot of the time, which is a huge bonus when it comes to looking at it as actual work.
How did Forever The Chaos Life come about?
Around 6 years ago, Forever The Chaos Life originated as a blog where I could dump the extremely large amount of photos I would take at parties and car / motorcycle shows.
What has been your goal with Forever The Chaos Life?
Never in a million years did I think that FTCL would stick — I just thought it was another stepping stone in my life. There was never really a goal with it other than a place to share my stories and photos. The blog kinda is an afterthought at this point but the name FTCL has just taken on a new life of its own. I’ve seen people refer to it as a lifestyle and even seen a handful of people get the words tattooed on them or even some of the art from my t-shirts and what not. It’s pretty surreal for me to even think about.
How many photos do you think you have taken since you started Forever the Chaos Life?
An endless number, I’m surprised I haven’t broken the damn sensor yet, (knock on wood)! I’m guessing it’s well over the 500,000 mark. Let’s just say I have a few too many external and computer hard drives full of images. I will say though, in the past year, I have definitely scaled back on how many photos I take on a bike shoot or at an event. I try to take my time to be more observant, more patient with setting up my shot, and paying close attention to my camera settings.
It seems like the Forever The Chaos Life shirts are doing well. How did the new design come into play?
When designing a t-shirt, I try to pull ideas from my experiences on the road, and sometimes even straight from photos. This latest design, I worked with one of my all-time favorite artists and good friend, Richard “Horsebites” Minino, from The VNM. I gave him a photo of my friend Matt Epler jumping off of one of the sketchiest ramps I have ever seen over a huge bonfire. I told Richard just have fun with it and make it your own rendition. I’m extremely happy with the end result and couldn’t have asked for anything better, Richard killed it. Matt is the epitome of what FTCL is all about, without even trying. He’s just a madman on two wheels that can rip it up better than anybody I know without a fear in the world and I wanted to pay tribute to that in a small way by sharing it with everyone.
Did you ever image that you would be selling t-shirts, prints, and contributing to some of the best magazines out there?
I’m truly grateful for people like you, Lisa, who took notice of my work so early on and gave me a chance to share my visions and outlooks on life through different media outlets. I started taking photos to keep my mind off things and to give myself a creative release. I never thought I would end up where I am today with all of this.
How did your new book Legends come about?
For the last 3 years, Legends has been an idea floating in the back of my head. I announced the name a couple years ago and continued to struggle internally with how I would lay out the book. I had self-doubts about my work as a whole collection for a while as well. Six months ago, I finally decided it was time to just say, “fuck it” and go for it. So with an extra little push from my lovely wife Kat (also the lead designer / editor of the book), we set a deadline and made it happen.
The idea behind Legends is everyone is extraordinary in their own way. Every person I meet has a story worth hearing and a bike worth looking at for the sole fact that it’s theirs. It blows me away to see the passion people have for their machines and even more passion for their brothers and sisters on the open road. I lost all hope in humanity for a long time, until I started riding motorcycles. After years of riding, I now can see this common bond we all share is because of this one mechanical thing, a two-wheeled machine which is a life force that creates inspiration, stories, history, bonds, tragedy, happiness, and even death. This book shines light on those that I have crossed paths with in my life in hopes that their image lives on forever to be remembered as legendary in their own right.
Was it hard to choose which photos made the cut?
It was insanely hard. The real trouble I found was going back and forth and deciding what images I thought were good enough and if it had a cohesive overall feeling to it. Luckily, my wife Kat is an extremely amazing designer and motivator. After really locking down some of my favorites, she went through and gave me her opinions on what she thought would work well and cohesively with the sections we created. We decided to divide the book into geographical sections of North America to help the flow of the photos, and also give that cohesive look I was striving for.
Name some of the states and events that will be featured in the book?
From my home state of Ohio, to California, to Mexico, and even a few different parts of Canada. I’ve been lucky enough to ride a lot of North America over the years and meet some of the most brilliant people. In this book, I didn’t want to focus so much on the events I have been to, but more on the people I have ridden with. There are a handful of shots from EDR and The Gypsy Run but only because there is a lot of riding on those runs with some of the best landscapes. Canyons and deserts in SoCal / Mexico and vast amount of green trees and mountains in New York and North Western Jersey. I tried my hardest on each photo to put a location with most of the photos. If I couldn’t nail the city, I would at least put a general area or route to help readers relate with the photos more.
What is the price point and where can people purchase it?
Legends is a 200 page, hardbound book, which is 11” wide by 8.5” tall. The cost is $75 plus shipping. You can pre-order your hand-signed copy today at www.foreverthechaoslife.com.
I recently saw the release party flyer on Facebook. Can you give us some details?
On March 4th, I will be throwing a release party for the book at one of my favorite restaurant/bars called Jammy Buggars located on 15625 Detroit Ave in Lakewood, OH, 44107. The release party is from 7pm to midnight. Legends will be available for purchase, as well as prints and FTCL t-shirts. Lowbrow Customs will be hanging out too and giving away some pretty cool stuff. Jammy Buggars also has a huge beer selection and some brilliant food, so it should turn out to be a pretty great time.
Do you have anything else going on that you want to share with our readers?
I’ve been working on the 3rd Fuel Cleveland! The only thing I can leak right now is that we set the date for July 29th, 2017. Follow @FuelCleveland on Instagram to keep up to date on the latest news and details.
First off I would like to thank my beautiful wife Kat for believing in me, motivating me to put this book together, and absolutely killing it on the design and editing. Thank you to Lyndsey Westfall and Rachel Minkowski for their exceptional editing and copywriting skills. A huge thanks to Tyler Malinky of Lowbrow Customs for always believing in me and giving me the opportunities to make my dreams a reality. Thank you to you, Lisa Ballard, for your constant love and support and wanting to feature my book up on ChopCult. It really means alot to me that you have always been there for me since the beginning. Last, but certainly not least, I want to thank every single person who has ever let me take a photo of them, their shop, or their bike and let me into their lives even if it was just for a minute. Without all of you, this book would be blank pages and untold stories. -Mikey
Follow Mikey's world:
Forever The Chaos Life / Instagram / Facebook
Fuel Cleveland / Instagram / Facebook
Lowbrow Customs / Instagram / Facebook