At a top speed of 100 mph, the Brammo Empluse takes the potential dowdiness out of electric motorcycles.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and the Tarantulas?
I’m 32 years old and still acting like an idiot. Grew up in Idaho farming and now am at the complete opposite end of the spectrum working as a freelance designer in Portland. As far as the Tarantulas go, the actual name started as an inside joke about a club of 1 (me) to annoy my girlfriend and it worked pretty well. Then about 5 years ago I moved into the house I’m at now and it had a garage across the street from a now good friend of mine Asa Miller. We both noticed the motorcycles in each others garages and from there we teamed up and started working on bikes together. Along the way we learned some lessons the hard way and figured out some tricks to help with building a bike. I created the blog / site as a way of connecting to others.
Who are the Tarantulas, what are you all about, and is becoming a Tarantula as hard as getting into the Mob?
Just some dudes who truly love motorcycles. Becoming a Tarantula is about as easy as joining up for a ride, beer or some shop time.
I have this theory, that every social group has a loveable Ringo. Who’s the Tarantulas Ringo Starr?
I would have to go with Tiny Nick. Nick isn’t so tiny, but nobody really wants to call him Big Nick. He’s still in the build phase with his ….. and probably will be for quite some time. It’s not all his fault though, he is a new dad and of course that takes priority over motorcycles. We have this habit of finding imagery of huge trikes or one off tractor style motorcycles and then send them to him as inspiration for his ongoing build. I’ve found in life that the kind of people that you want to surround yourself with should be good at taking shit and giving it right back. You need people that are confident enough to poke fun at themselves and others without any hangups. Tiny Nick can take shit with the best of them and that’s why I love the guy.
If the Tarantulas had a patron saint it would have to be…
That’s a good one. Is Steve McQueen considered a saint? I’m not a religious guy, so I’m not sure what’s all out there.
What’s the first motorcycle that burned into your memory?
As a young kid growing up in Idaho I spent a ton of time on dirt bikes. I think the day I saw one of my friends roll up on a 1985 CR80 is burned into my memory. I just remember looking at that CR on the blue seat and being nervous about the possibilities of that 2stroke bike compared to my older XR. I still want to get an 80’s CR now that I can. Sucks to be a kid with no income and parents that wanted you to learn the value of saving for something.
When did you first become interested in being an artist?
I was interested in art at around age 13 or 14…it was one of those schools were other kids went off to work in construction or whatever… I thought I wouldn’t mind trying to be a commercial artist, but I didn’t know much about it. I was lucky I had a school teacher who let me out of class as soon as I got in on Thursdays. He’d let me go to the Tate Gallery, or the National, and I’d wander around there all day, it was free getting in. I realized there was something out there that I was really interested in but didn’t know much about.
What influenced you when you were walking the halls of those galleries?
I wouldn’t say it influenced really, just so impressed with it. Cause you look at stuff, and you go “Wow!” They’re not going to influence your work, they’re just stunning. I still get that when I go to galleries…”How the hell did they do that?”
Then you went to art school?
So my teachers told me I’d have to go to an art college, and go through the whole process to do that – it didn’t seem a good way for me, I just wanted to go out and get into it, so I started an apprenticeship at a studio. I was pretty much making tea, and delivering parcels. But I learned a lot along the way. All the guys in the studio, if you were interested, would show you stuff, tricks of the trade, that was great to come up in 1967.
London in the Sixties, that must have been a kick…
I enjoyed the hell out of it. I was into music and watching bands. You’d go to a pub and watch Led Zeppelin or Jimi Hendrix. It was great musically. I went to see a blues band every week, Clapton, John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers. Me and my mates really liked the blues stuff and the American bands…seems like the American weren’t really into it. I’d watch Freddie King…Albert King and Buddy Guy. These guys would just come over and play gigs all over Europe. And the British bands were just ripping them off something horrible. Freddie King was my hero.
So, you’re learning a craft at this studio…what was that like?
The studio I went to work in was package designers initially, which covered everything from concept to coming up with the packages and the label, the shape of the box or the bottle…covered the whole field. But you’d get to learn a little about everything, lettering, airbrush work, illustrations, roughs, colors, design, whatever direction you’d want to go in. So I’d just try to pick up small amounts of each, and I’m still using it really, That’s why a lot of my stuff looks like packaging.
I turned freelance when I was 19, and I used it to travel. I’d work for a couple of months, and then take off for three months and go get lost in the Greek Islands, and then come back completely broke and start work the next day. I used it to travel for 10 years and got away with that.
When I first saw your work on Bonhams, I thought you were a long-gone artist that had lived and worked in the ’30s and ’40s. That you must have ran around with Geo Ham when not traveling the world and creating racing posters.
It was complete coincidence, I had never heard of Geo Ham until I took some stuff I’d done to Bonhams…and their head of memorabilia took a look and said, “This looks like Geo Ham’s stuff.” And I said, “Who’s that?” I had no idea who Geo Ham was. He pointed out that he’s the guy who did all those classic motor posters. And I took a look and said, “Oh I guess they are.” I don’t know if he was a sign painter or not, but we came about it in a different way I imagine.
And now that you know who Geo Ham is…
Oh I still love that stuff…I just really love Art Deco stuff. I’m a lettering fanatic. I actually create the typefaces, or most of them to actually go with the age, and age the piece. I’ve always been into lettering – that’s half of it for me.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m 38 years old, French, living in Paris. I’m an art director for the automotive French brand Citroën in the design department for 12 years. I began photography in 2006 by myself…for hobby.
Can you give us a little background on this particular shoot?
I was contacted by Gaby Von Oppenheim who imagined, organized and managed the first edition of this event to shoot it because she liked my pictures. This was very intense, because there was a lot of cars with a lot of people, so not always easy to make good shots of the cars. It’s why I’ve got a lot of close-ups and details of cars.