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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Mike Vandegriff

Have you ever met someone that could find beauty in anything they see? That is Mike Vandegriff to a T. The way Mike captures things is so natural and real, with just a touch of artistic chaos. Mike is truly remarkable when it comes to how he gets his angles and is always looking at things a little differently then most. I have seen the dude first hand, climbing on building roof tops and diving under bikes to get the right shot, the shot he knows he wants. I am a big fan of all his work, not just his motorcycle stuff. We have become pretty good friends over the last year and I am grateful to have met such an amazing person. Not only is his vision as an artist amazing but his outlook on life far exceeds most. He is the life of the party and the first person to make you laugh. He is so humble and good natured as a human being too! I am so happy he has put his nerves aside and is willing to showcase some of his amazing work at Fuel Cleveland May 9th. Here is a little interview we did the other day. Enjoy! 

-Mikey Revolt

Mike Vandegriff, where do you call home? 

M: Indianapolis, IN

How long have you been in photography?

M: I've really been into photography since high school so roughly close to 15 years now. I was lucky to have a killer photo program in high school that pushed me into studying photo on a serious level later in college here in Indy. 

What is photography to you as person? 

M: An outlet for sure. It drives me on a lot of different levels. Some things I get excited about shooting that are happening "in the now" like live band shows or even bike shows or rides. Then on the other side of the coin I love being able to control every aspect of a shoot from lighting to wardrobe to whatever little details I can bring out. 

Is there other mediums you dabble in or have mastered artistically? 

M: I have always dabbled in drawing and painting(on canvas). I got kind of really discouraged using painting as my major in college and switched to photo primarily but I still come back to it all the time. I do a little bit of elaborate rattle can stuff with tanks as well in the paint realm but I'm merely just having fun with that stuff when a good challenge arises that a friend is willing to let me have free reign over. 

You have been in some bands over the years, did you take your camera with or was it mostly music business only on the road! 

M: Always gotta have my camera on the road. I've always shot bands locally here in Indy and the tri state area while playing shows and doing the "weekend warrior" kind of thing but shooting on tour is a lot of fun as well. 

What are some of the craziest things you have ever done or seen? I have personally witnessed you in a "man thong" as yu jumped into a pickup truck bed pool, I know you can top that!!! 

M: For reasons of personal incrimination I am not allowed to discuss said crazy things. ;-) Let's just say I know how to have a good time but it's not always 100% legal. 

What kind of bike do you currently have and any challenges, hiccups or fun things about it?

M: Well, I have quite a few bikes but my main project at the moment that has been the culmination of the last 4 years has been my 2005 rubber mount hardtail 1200 sportster with rubber mount free floating 4 foot exhaust. When I first set out on the project in the fall of 2010, no one and I mean no one was making any kind of hardtails for rubber mount sportsters. Hell there was just no market, the damn things hadn't even been around long enough for people to even wreck them enough to end up in a scrap pile to chop them. I could have easily dumped a few thousand bucks into a hard mount sporty, bought a paughco frame and rolled the fuck out but I wanted something that was gonna be different than anything anyone had ever seen and something that was a challenge. Honestly almost every single part on that bike is custom made from scratch from a number of different shops or on my friends garage floors through many late night chop sessions. Each part had its own "hiccup" as you will in trying to make it work on the bike. I've honestly learned more about building bikes from this project more than the last two bikes I did combined. The list of hiccups are too long to even list but the worst of it all is the exhaust. Broken and cracked two times and mended on the fly enough to get home. The process of trial and error for making rubber mount free floating 4 foot tall exhaust sturdy enough to support itself was one of the hardest challenges of the whole bike. Through it all though I have met and bonded with some amazing people along the way that I never would have had the chance to meet if it weren't for that pain in the ass machine. 

If you could only choose one bike in the world to have which one would it be? 

M: Ewwww, damn,......I'm gonna come out of left field and say any Vincent Black Shadow. Either that or the fucking "King Kong" double knucklehead in the Harley museum, not that I could even ride it. I would just sit on it every day and sport wood and make "braaaaap" noises. 

Is art and photography an escape, an outlet or a passion for you? 

M: Definitely an outlet but on most occasions a passion for sure. Just depends what the project is or what the event I'm attempting to shoot. Obviously I'm gonna be a lot more passionate about shooting something provocative or exciting like a bike event than a wedding or something of that nature. Basically, if the subject gets my blood pumping,....then chances are the end result is gonna be something amazing. 

Who or what motivates you and inspires you as an artist? 

M: It's kind of weird, I find myself either being inspired by my peers that are doing great things "in the now" or photographers from long long ago that were doing incredible things before people even had the balls to think of it. By far one of my favorite photographers to this day is the work of Andre Kertesz from the 1930's. The kind of things he was doing back then were unreal and so ahead of his time. He could have been killed for the photos he took, I always respected that. Being a photographer isn't always about playing it safe. I find the more dangerous or compelling the situation is,....the more likely an incredible image is gonna blossom from it. 

Camera preferences, do you like digital or film better? You have a wide array of cameras, whats your favorite?

M: I actually refused to even touch digital until around 2008, so until then it was nothing but film. I still try and shoot film as much as I can but obviously the convenience and cost of shooting digital usually out weighs film in the end. I truly believe though that as many filters as we can put on things digitally, it will never possess the true aesthetic that film can capture. So, to answer the question,....I prefer film but,....I can't always afford it. 

Where is one place you would want to just drop everything, jump on your bike and go right now if you could? 

M: Las Vegas,...sounds cheesy but in all my travels and tours, that is the one place I've never been. I also feel like a bike trip there would turn into some Hunter S. Thompson nightmarish freak out adventure real fast...well as much as I can freak out on red bull and ginger beer that is. 

Where is the coolest place you have ever been to?

M: Honestly Detroit kind of blew my mind. I have been traveling to Gary, IN for several years to photograph the ruins of that city but Detroit is just like the most insane wasteland I've ever seen. I can really appreciate the beauty within its decay. 

How are you always the life of the party and sober as a bird being straightedge? I commend you on it! 

M: I've always just tried to lead by example I guess. It doesn't always take alcohol to have a good time, it just takes the energy of the people around you and your own willingness to have a good time.

Favorite 80’s or 90’s TV show? 

M: "The State" on MTV, back when it didn't suck so horrifically. 

Do you have the winter time blues with all this snow falling everywhere or you keeping busy with other things? 

M: I honestly get at least a minor form of depression every winter as do a lot of people but I usually just focus more on music when that happens and try to channel that into something constructive. It's easier to write dark and gritty stuff when you aren't happy. 

Anyone you would like to give a shout out or thank? 

M: Well, I know it's gonna sound cheesy, but I have to thank you for believing in me enough to give me a shot at presenting my work at this show.

Don't forget to check out Mike's photos at Fuel Cleveland May 9th and check out more of his crazy shenanigans on www.instagram.com/mikevandegriff

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Fuel Cleveland 2015 Photographers

We are proud to have some of the hardest-working and talented photographers in the motorcycle scene taking part in the first annual Fuel Cleveland show. Billy Childress, Cicero Deguzman, Dan Venditto, Doug Ewing, Garcia, Heath Braun, Jay Cagney, JB Hillard, Jon Glover, Josh Kurpius, Ken Carvajal, Ken Driscoll, Lisa Ballard, Matthew Aims, Mikey Revolt, and Mike Vandegriff will all have their work on display in Cleveland May 9th, 2015, and many, if not all, will be in attendance.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Dan Venditto

Dan Venditto hails from the great state of Pennsylvania in a little town called Ephrata. The internet is a remarkable place to find anything and everything you are interested in and one day I stumbled upon Dan’s photography. It was different, new looking and yet kind of reminded me of myself in little way. He's always trying new things and growing as an artist. I have loved witnessing his progression and eagerness to capture everything amazing when it comes to motorcycles. Every single picture I see him getting closer and closer to mastering his craft. It brings me the biggest smile to welcome Dan Venditto to Fuel Cleveland, who will also be showcasing some of his amazing work on May 9th, 2015. 

-Mikey Revolt

Dan Venditto, where do you call home?

D: Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. I’ve always lived in the general area. 

Is there a certain draw to you and motorcycles or do you photograph more than just bikes?

D: Almost always motorcycles, but I have been playing around with bud’s cars, trucks and some skate shots lately.

What has been your favorite place, event or even time of your life?

D: My favorite place would have to be where I live. It’s a very small-town… I dig it. Strange Days is damn near my perfect event – laid-back hangin’ with lots of badass bikes and good people. Time of my life would have to be right now…tons of stability but many doors are opening.

Is there a place you would want to jump on your bike and just go right now if you had the chance to do so?

D: Southern California, preferably in the middle of nowhere, like where I live now…perfect weather and open roads. The South would have to be my second choice, warm weather and a slower pace.

What is your dream bike?

D: One with two wheels, some character and history, but only something my extremely talented buds had a hand in building. I’ve made some awesome friends in this short time and I’d be honored if they were a part of my dream bike.

How long have you been into photography?

D: I guess I’ve always had an interest in photography, but only picked up a serious camera about two years ago. Self-taught with plenty of mistakes.

What moves and inspires you? What inspires your photography?

D: Solid, genuine, humble people have always inspired me. They also tend to be the ones that share my taste in motorcycles and what I like to photograph. I’ve been described as very private and simple, and have no problem with it. Quality, character and a sense of history also move me.

How many miles have you put on your bike or camera this past year?

D: A decent amount on the camera but nowhere near enough on the bike. My intent when starting to photograph bikes was to learn more. The camera has briefly robbed me of that, but it won’t always be the case.

You a Canon or Nikon guy? Or something completely different?

D: Canon

What vision do you want to portray and share with people when you take a photo?

D: A good image. I’m not that deep. I shoot what I like, that’s about it.

Any crazy or chaotic stories about a trip, photo shoot, or event?

D: Nothing that has to do with being on a motorcycle. Plenty of good times, I'm no saint, but nothing I’d say was chaotic. Again, I’m the simple one here, but lucky enough to have crazy buds that are cool with it. I’ve seen a lot, but keep my mouth shut, so I get invited back. 

What was 13 year old Dan like?

D: 13 year old Dan? Fat (but happy).

Cool Ranch or Nacho Cheese Doritos? Hahahaha

D: Yes – see above. I’m not picky. I’ll eat just about anything that isn’t good for me, especially after a night of partying.

Anyone you would like to give a shout out to or thank?

D: Roost Cycles, ChopCult, Puresludge, DC and Mikey Arnold…their guidance, support, tolerance of my stupidity, and having my back has been immeasurable. 

Anything you find interesting about yourself or any stories you want to share or add?

D: Interesting, no. I’m sure that I’m the simplest one in the mix. I appreciate the opportunity that has been given to me to be among this fine company. I thank everyone involved for making it happen.

Be sure to check out Dan's work at the show and for more of his Photography go to www.dv8sport.com

Friday, January 23, 2015

Ken Driscoll AKA Magic Ken

Ken Driscoll aka Magic Ken is artist through and through. Hailing from the state of Maryland in a city they call Baltimore. Ken has shown some of the most amazing culture, bikes and life to come out of the Baltimore and east coast motorcycle scene. With his natural eye that puts you right into what’s going on in his photos, to the chaotic and free spirit feelings his work gives off, I have personally found myself staring into his photos in awe. I am so excited to announce Ken will be showcasing some of his beautiful imagery at Fuel Cleveland on May 9th. Here is a little one on one I had with Ken the other day. Enjoy!

- Mikey Revolt

Where did the name Magic Ken come from?

K: I got the name pretty early on. I was heavy into magic when I was a kid and a few people found out. I think it was Oliver (from Cutrate) and Tim (editor of Lowside Magazine) that simultaneously gave me the nickname one night at Oliver’s place. It’s stuck with me ever since.

Have you always lived in Baltimore?

K: I’ve lived in and around Baltimore all my life.

How long have you been into photography?

K: I first picked up a camera 14 years ago in a high school black and white photography class. I thought it would be an easy way to get school credit for taking photos of my friends skateboarding. I actually didn’t do too well in the class. I couldn’t get into taking “artsy” photos of plastic bags in trees or power lines or something. I tried to learn as much of the technical stuff as I could and just took photos of whatever I wanted.

Did motorcycles find you or did you find them?

K: I guess they found me. Since I first picked up a camera I’ve always photographed the stuff I was interested in. I started shooting photos with Oliver Jones for his clothing brand Cut Rate and through him met Tim Wise the editor of Lowside. Tim asked me to shoot his shovel at the time for DicE magazine. That was the first bike I ever shot. From there I started shooting for Lowside and it sort of snowballed from that point.

What is your dream bike?

K: I don't know. I'd like to have a completely stock Panhead someday.

In all your travels where was the best place you have ever been and what made it so special?

K: I think I’d have to say Japan for the Mooneyes HRCS. It’s insane. If you ever have the opportunity to go, you should. I can’t really explain it in words. You have to be there to understand just how big the show is.

Any crazy stories you want to share about your travels or a shoot gone bad?

K: I don’t know, it’s tough to think of a good one. I’ve seen some crazy stuff. Everything from someone crashing while shooting their bike, being crashed into and even almost being arrested on a photoshoot. Once I rode through the Badlands in South Dakota on the back of Tim’s ’50 Pan with no seat and no passenger pegs  so I could shoot some good riding photos for the magazine article we did about the trip. It was pretty funny trying to hold my legs up and keep my feet from hitting the ground in the turns. 

Is there one image that you have taken that every time you look at it, you get thrown back to that time or place and wish you could go back?

K: Two years ago a bunch of us traveled across country to Born Free. I took photos the whole way. I get really sentimental about those photos. They always bring back a lot of memories. But I get this way with a lot of my photos. I think that’s why I like photography so much. It takes me right back to that exact moment when I was taking the photo.

What inspires you, your vision, and your photography?

K: It’s tough to say what inspires me or to give a clear definition of my vision. More than anything I feel like a fly on the wall. I’m not very outspoken so having the camera has always been my reason for hanging around. Early on I was really influenced by Adam Wright. He has a super simplistic style and a really great eye. I met him once and he was really nice to me and we’ve kind of stayed in contact for the past couple of years. I like his ‘one camera, one lens, less is more’ approach. I’ve tried to adopt that mindset and not be so focused on equipment that I lose sight of what’s really in front of me.

Is there a specific time, place, or setting you like to take your photos or is it a completely random, on chance type of thing for you?

K: I really try to just let my photos happen. I rarely pose anything. I think it has a lot to do with being in the right place at the right time. To be a good photographer you have to know where to be and when to be there. I just try to be as close to my subjects as I can and let stuff happen.

Anyone you would like to give a shout out to or thank?

K: My wife, Brittany, everyone at Lowside Magazine and to anyone that’s ever let me take their photo.

Make sure to check out Ken’s work at the show. You can find more of his work at www.instagram.com/Magic__Ken

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Introducing Fuel Cleveland

Fuel Cleveland is an invitational show for motorcycle builders, rare bike owners, painters, and photographers that will be held Saturday, May 9, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. Fuel Cleveland is organized and put together in partnership by Lowbrow Customs, The Gasbox, and Forever The Chaos Life. This is the very first show of it's kind to take place in Cleveland, Ohio - the center hub of the Rust Belt. The goal of this show is to highlight the artistic side and culture of motorcycles, all while celebrating, paying respect to, and 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, provides the perfect urban, gritty setting for this Great Lakes focused event. It is a free event.

Fuel Cleveland will include dozens of motorcycles from the Midwest, from ground-up, custom-built choppers to rare, historic and exotic bikes rarely seen outside of the owner's personal collection. Biltwell Gringo-S helmets painted by twelve of the top artists and painters in the motorcycle scene will be spread throughout the warehouse space, amongst bikes and photography. In addition, many prints from fifteen of the scene's talented and hard-working photographers will be throughout, highlighting the lifestyle and machines of today’s diverse motorcycle culture. 

Photo by Heath Braun
Plans are in the works for a Friday night party, as well as a ride through Cleveland's Flats along the Cuyahoga River, amongst the old steel yards and bridges, to an after party Saturday evening. Stay tuned as we start posting interviews and photos of invited builders, photographers, and painters. 

Photo by Mikey Revolt