Our Very own Mikey "Revolt" Arnold was invited to showcase some of his photographs at Michael Lichter's Motorcycles As Art show for 2017 at the world famous Buffalo Chip in Sturgis. The Buffalo Chip and Michael Lichter wanted to get to know Mikey a little better so they sat down with him and asked a handful of questions.
Here's a little about 2017's Motorcycles As Art Show - Old Iron Young Blood. A new generation is shaping the industry, and they are ready to show what they can do. Sturgis, SD An incredible group of young builders and artists who have been inspired by the iron stylings of previous generations will be creating new works that reflect the attitude and attributes of the present in the Buffalo Chip’s 2017 Motorcycles as Art exhibit, “Old Iron Young Blood; Motorcycles and the Next-Gen,” curated by famed motorcycle photographer Michael Lichter. Forty builders under 36 years of age have accepted the challenge to build a custom masterpiece especially for this exhibit, each of which will be displayed atop elevated pedestals and lit with theater lights to better give guests an open view from every angle. The exhibition is free to the public and open in the Buffalo Chip’s Event Center 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 5 through Friday, Aug. 11. More information can be found at MotorcyclesAsArt.com.
“The 40 builders and 14 two-dimensional artists will come together as 53 creatives to examine just what this generation is interested in, what they are capable of and what is coming around the bend,” said exhibit curator Michael Lichter. “In addition to an age limit on the builder, each bike must be a new build completed within a few months of the show opening and many of the bikes will be ‘unveiled’ for the first time at the exhibition.”
Throughout the history of motorcycle customization, one can see that individual artists draw inspiration from his or her most impressionable moments, experiences which often mark both the timeline of their lives and of an entire generation. The old iron that returning veterans of the ‘40s twisted, stretched and chopped echoed the frustrations of a generation of GIs who were ravaged by war and yearned to be free. Today’s young bloods are creating bikes that are inspired by old iron, yet reflect the more calculated interests and accessible technology of the present. Though many define this generation as “Millennials,” the burgeoning masters of the motorcycle industry displaying their work in this exhibit have broken any constraints or negative stereotypes associated with the term.
“Michael has again put together an exhibit that explores the changing landscape of the motorcycle culture in a way that only the world’s leading motorcycle photographer could reveal,” said Rod Woodruff, Sturgis Buffalo Chip President. “We are witnessing the birth of a new generation of talent, the up-and-coming masters of an art. This exhibit offers the chance to simultaneously see the wave of the future and the influence of the past, an opportunity no biker should miss.”
The show will also include a display of ten hand-painted helmets, each from a different artist, provided by Biltwell Helmets, an exhibition sponsor. For more information about the Buffalo Chip’s free-access MAA Exhibit or to learn about events that come free with a campground admission pass, visit BuffaloChip.com
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You can read a full transcription of this video below:
My name is Mike Arnold. A lot of people know me as Mikey Revolt. I am 32 years old based out of Cleveland Ohio, born and raised here all my life. I work for lowbrowcustoms.com along with Forever the Chaos Life.
How long have I been creating art? As long as I can absolutely remember, I've been painting and drawing and doodling since elementary school and middle school. I'd take art classes on any chance I got. If there's art history and art, I'd want to be a part of that. It's just a creative thing that I strived for and I always loved being able to imagine something and put it on piece of paper with a pen or paintbrushes. I don't know, it's just something that makes your soul feel better.
In high school, I started dabbling with bass guitar and I met a few friends that we started a band with. That was a really great time in my life to just experiment in different types of art with not just a paint brush and a pencil, but to actually make feeling with music. It was a punk rock band and we just would record on a cassette tape, on a single microphone and we thought were the coolest thing ever. It was really cool to create stuff out of nothing, still. That was another avenue that basically took over my life for the next 10 years from 9th grade of high school 2007, I was playing music.
I started picking up the guitar maybe mid high school because bass was a little boring. I always wanted to challenge myself to something a little harder, make things more difficult for myself and learning guitar on my own, started getting more bands and eventually started getting on tour and it became like a full-time job, where I was constantly on the road and just living a dream of mine which was really awesome. My last band that I was in, they were actually signed to a small independent label. That independent label, basically, ruined my love and passion for music after about seven or eight months of being on that label, and really opened my eyes to the music industry and told me what I did like and what I didn't like about it all.
The media, I'm well known for right now is photography. I've been shooting photos probably since late 09. My mom passed in middle of 09,, and it really did devastated me. I lost my ways a bit and didn't know where to go or what to do and just started drinking a lot. My wife basically told me, "You need to straighten up and figure something out." I started painting again for a little while and it just wasn't the same gratification as I remember when I was a kid. I saw a camera one day and I asked her, "Hey, can I mess around with this?" and she said, "Don't grudge it, don't break it." That day was the day that started this entire craziness of what I'm doing now.
When I picked up that camera and I don't think I've looked back. It's snow-balled into a career which is even larger in my eyes than even back in the day when I was in bands. To be here now where I am is life changes frequently, but they say the major life changes really shaped who you are.
What makes my art so cool? I don't know if it's that cool [laughs]. It's all on the eye of the beholder, I guess. I just try to capture what I think looks the best in my eyes. The way I see things, I want to share with people, and I guess, people are digging it.
I really love seeing motorcycles in motion. Motorcycles were made to move. They were not made to be stared at and sitting in a corner of a room or a garage and never to be ridden.
For me, the fulfillment of seeing a motorcycle moving and actually capturing that is something that I strive for. I ride next to my subjects that I'm taking photos of on my own personal bike. I shoot, controlling all manual settings to get the right speed, the right aperture, and the right shutter speed, while also controlling my throttle and making sure that I'm lining up the shot correctly. It's a pretty scary situation. Sometimes my wife hates it but it definitely makes for some really amazing shots and things that you can't just capture in the back of a truck or on the side of a van. You find yourself with only one angle of a subject where I can get 30 or 40 different angles hanging off my motorcycle. A lot of people think I'm a little nuts. Some people are a little scared when they ride with me at first, but then after they get going and they understand what I'm doing and it's a lot of fun. That to me is something special and I guess a cool factor.
I think the toughest part about being an artist is just creating and keeping it fresh and new and not redoing the same thing over and over again. With motorcycles, that's great because every single subject is different in their own way, shape and form. Then I find that finding new spots that are interesting and intriguing backgrounds for that motorcycle is also really a lot of fun for me. It brings back to the skateboarding days that I used to-- It's also skateboard and you find new skate spots, it's the same thing with photography. Finding new sceneries and spots that you can park a motorcycle, along with roads to ride on and shoot. That's another thing that I really find a little difficult. Sometimes it's finding a spot, but once you find it or you find that perfect shot, then you just know the rest of that's going to be amazing.
Do I feel like our generation is shaping the motorcycle industry? I would say that we're definitely adding to the motorcycle industry. Definitely, sharing our viewpoints with social media and technology, it's so much easier to get the word around and what we're trying to accomplish and what we're trying to do and share our art and share parts and things of that nature that people are making and getting it out to the masses as fast as possible. I do feel like we are shaping it a little more than probably back in the day, but without back in the day and the history of people doing what they were doing, motorcycle wise and chopper world wise, I don't think it would be possible.
Without your roots you can't shape anything. You have to have some inspiration, some guidance and things to look up to without looking up to artists or looking up to different builders or anything that you're doing and not saying that you're not inspired by it from history, you're lying to yourself, you're lying to everyone else. You're always inspired. You're always looking at things that will help your ideas come to fruition in another sense.
As for shaping the motorcycle industry and what it would look like in the future, the sky's the limit. People are innovating stuff every day, new parts, videos, photography. It's countless, just non-stop information flowing on social media and different channels that you see coming in from all over the world. To be a part of the history and to be a part in time right now in the motorcycle industry and hopefully putting a staple on it, I'm grateful for that. I hope that one day somebody sees some of my photos and goes, "Wow I want to jump on a motorcycle right now because that looks like the coolest thing in the world ." 60, 70 years from now, if I was remembered for that, awesome.