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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Lisa Ballard

The number 33 stands for something way more than just it's insignificant value as a number to all of us motorcycle and chopper lovers, 33 = CHOP CULT! It represents a lifestyle that one woman has put way more effort than most to highlight, protect, and cherish. Lisa Ballard, editor and chief of ChopCult.com deeply cares about a community full of garage builders, independent business owners, free thinkers, and artists all while preserving our culture and bringing it to the masses. She is probably one of the hardest working in the motorcycle industry, a one woman army that puts in way more hours in than work should allow when it comes to managing Chop Cult and continually growing the DIY motorcycle/chopper culture from the ground up. To boot, she is a pretty awesome photographer as well. I asked Lisa to be a part of Fuel Cleveland not because she is a close friend but because her skills behind the lens never get highlighted, she's the one always looking to let others shine and bask in all the glory. Lisa deserves just as much credit when it comes to contributing photos and writing key features for Chop Cult, The Horse, and too many other publications to name. Surrounding her self around motorcycles 24/7 she seems to capture some of those rare moments and that's what I love so much about her photos. Word on the street is Lisa is going to make the adventure all the way from Cali to Cleveland on May 9th. I'm super stoked she's coming out to represent her work, it's always good to see her smile. Here's a little one on one we did the the other day, enjoy!

- Mikey Revolt

Lisa Ballard where do you rest your head and where are you originally from?

L: I currently reside in Lake Elsinore, CA with my husband, Duane, and son Wayne. “Originally from” is kind of a funny question for me because Duane and I have moved a lot. We have been residents of Florida, Arizona, Kentucky, and New Hampshire during our 24 years of marriage. I’m very proud to say that I was born and raised in Lowell, Mass.

Where does your passion for two wheeled machines come from? 

L: My husband Duane. It’s all his fault, lol. I never really experienced the motorcycle lifestyle as a child. My Dad and Uncles preferred to work on old cars instead of motorcycles. Duane’s father owned many motorcycles throughout Duane’s childhood. I believe he influenced Duane a lot.

When Duane decided that he wanted to start leather crafting, it was my job to get his product noticed. That meant holding the wall at MANY events, waiting to speak to the powers that be. These events opened my eyes to the craftsmen, artists, and fabricators of the industry. Over the years, Duane’s admiration of Hondas started our journey in the world of bike building. I absolutely love Duane’s bikes and find his latest build, The Kosmosaki, the most comfortable bike to date. I know some people think its weak not having my own bike, but I really have the best seat in the house. When I’m behind Duane, we are one. 

When did you get into photography? 

L: My love for photography started as a young child. My grandparents and parents always had cameras at any get together; it didn’t matter if it was a trip to the beach, family gathering or holiday. Cameras were always present in my life. I remember my grandfather allowing me to hold his camera and take photos as a child. I received a Kodak Pocket Instamatic kit for A Christmas gift. It was by far the best Christmas present ever. I also remember my Mother telling me not to waste the film because I had to pay for the processing. I believe this taught me to take my time, really focus on the subject, and make every photo count.

How long have you been editor and chief of Chop Cult? What challenges do you face with the site and separating yourself as an artist? 

L:  I’m heading into my third year as the acting editor in chief. There were MANY challenges in the first year. I had to figure out how to tone down the overall lack of respect from the website. There was a “throw them to the sharks” mentality, and it hindered us from obtaining content. People were leery to showcase their work; afraid of being ridiculed for their craftsmanship and vision. It took awhile for the members to realize there wasn’t a need to slam each other’s vision publicly. I believe respect is now instilled throughout the site, thanks to the CC moderators Allen, Brandon, Torch and Nina. They have been the driving force to eliminate the thieves, scammers and haters. I also had to prove to the members and followers that I could handle the editor’s position and keep the site alive. The previous owners set the bar of expectation very high for website content, and handled most of the features themselves. My thought process has always been to shine the light on new talent and let them get the recognition they so rightly deserve. I started with a few contributors and am going into 2015 with an amazing crew. The only downfall is I’m doing more computer work vs. shooting features. I’m hoping to work on this in 2015. One of my many duties for the site is laying out the content for every published feature. I’m very fortunate to work with some of the best talent in the industry. Each photographer inspires me with their photography and talent. I’ve never really considered myself an artist, I’m just lucky to be given this opportunity.

You stated to me once that you don’t use Photoshop but you do use a digital camera, “what you see is what you get” you told me I believe. Is that part of staying true to the image you are portraying or any other reasoning?

L: I prefer to showcase the subject in natural light, and in its own beauty. For the most part, when I secure a bike to feature, it’s normally the paint that wins me over. I love eye candy and details that you don’t really see from afar. I love shooting items on a bike that influenced the builder to dig deep and gave that part his all. I’ve heard many times “that part almost ended the build” and by the end, that part made the build. I know some folks enjoy using Photoshop and tell me often that I should give it a try. I prefer to let the natural light dictate what I capture. Photography is like bike building: everyone has their own vision.

Living in California it’s probably hard to be anywhere else, but is there another place you would love to be at right now or live? 

My heart will always be in New Hampshire as that’s where my mother, siblings, daughter and extended family reside. It will always be home to me. Moving to California was done to take the Duane Ballard Custom Leather brand to the next level. We had the clientele in New Hampshire, but California made sense due to the year round riding. Plus, Duane was not a fan of the New England winters.

Who or what are some of your main influences or inspirations towards your photography and vision. 

L: My Aunt Mary was a big influence on me as a teenager, because she took great photos. I have a piece of her work above my workstation. It’s a black and white photo of a bay window with an American Flag hanging in it. This photo brings me home daily as it showcases everything that I love about Lowell, Mass. Tough cobblestone exterior and American pride. Adam Wright, Courtney Halowell, Holly Anderson and Colleen Swartz have inspired me for many years.

What code do you live by? 

L: To always be polite, respectful, and accountable for my actions.

You recently visited Japan for Mooneyes Show. What was some of your favorite moments from Japan and the show? Eat any crazy food or do anything out of the ordinary? 

L: By far the best moments were spent meeting our social media followers. It’s absolutely mind blowing to connect with someone from another country and build a friendship from a follow. I never expected Duane’s brand to become this successful. There were guys that passed our booth and would throw out a fist and yell “DB”. That little fist has opened doors for us that I never thought would be possible.

I’m not one to try different foods so I stuck to my norms during the trip; Ramen, beer, pot stickers, and beer. Duane was more adventurous on this trip than the last. The best thing about going to Japan is that you could go down the sketchiest dark alleyway and come across amazing food. We visited this little 400 square foot restaurant that made the best meat kabobs. Duane tried pork tongue one night; I went with a beer instead ☺

What is your favorite thing to take photos of? 

L: The ocean and sunsets; they are both my happy places. I also like photographing Duane tooling leather. It’s awesome to capture his process and watch a piece come to life.

What’s next for Lisa Ballard, any future big plans or projects in the works? 

L: I just want ChopCult and Duane’s brand to keep moving forward. I would also like to see the Hippy Killer Hoedown, Just Kickers and the David Mann Chopper Festival grow in attendance this year. It’s my main focus at this moment. 

You just won Cycle Sources, 2014 Motorcycling’s Woman of The Year award, I know how hard you work day to day and it must be such an honor, how does it feel to see your efforts get recognition to such a high degree of fashion? 

L: I feel that was me coming full circle with Cycle Source Magazine and Chris Callen. When we moved to California I couldn’t get a job so I asked Chris who helped him in California because I couldn’t find his magazine anywhere. He didn’t have anyone, so I offered to help him. Duane gave me some space in his booth to promote Cycle Source and attract new subscribers. During a late night conversation, Chris asked me to become his blog editor. I didn’t know the first thing about blogs or social media; I was a cook by trade. I was so nervous about messing up Cycle Source’s website that I made Duane do the first couple of posts so I could observe him. Time went by and then Chris asked me to obtain content for the magazine. I was shit scared, but Chris walked me through the dos and don’ts of motorcycle photography. He gave me advice, encouragement and even bought the Canon EOS 60D that I still use today. I worked as Cycle Source’s west coast editor for three years and during that time helped raise west coast readership 35%. I also promoted many brands and events through my marketing gig, Shiny Side Marketing. I met most of my clients through Cycle Source and the Limpnickie Lot. I never had manuals to learn from, everything was learned solely thru trial and error. I created something out of nothing and have met some incredible, talented folks along the way. Fast forward six years later and I’m able to help others grow in the industry by showcasing their talents through ChopCult. To be the Woman of the Year is humbling, to say the least. I just try to do my best daily and hope that people enjoy what I put out to the universe. 

What’s your preference in cameras? 

L: I love my Canon EOS 60D and G11.

Do you ride motorcycles your self or solely a back seat kind of girl? 

L: I really like the back seat. I wish I had the confidence to learn but the California roads and the drivers scare the shit out of me. I like when Duane is in control.

Any crazy stories you would like to share on your adventures and travels? 

L: Duane and I don’t really get to travel because of his workload. I wish we could figure out how to change that and ride more. The only story that comes to mind was our trip to Salinas, CA. Cole Foster was putting on an event and asked us to join in. We drove to Salinas, stayed at a fancy hotel, and woke up the next day to all of our gear stolen. The thieves took over $4000.00 in leather products, our booth set up, Duane’s helmet, hell they even stole our business cards. Duane and I were heart-broken and just wanted to grab his bike and head home. We drove to Cole’s to break the news to him, Jeff Decker and Rico. We told them, “We’re done and too upset to set up.” 

Jeff Decker walked up to the two of us and said, “You have to stay, there are people coming who want to meet you. Stay, enjoy yourself and head home after the show vs. driving home upset.”
Duane and I actually took Jeff’s advice and had a great, enjoyable day, despite our recent loss. Jeff’s words of advice have never been forgotten, and it helped me accept that there are days that might just completely suck, but they will get better. Surround yourself with good people and the rest is pretty easy. We’re very fortunate to have made friends with Cole, Rico, Jeff and many others. 

Whats your favorite Ice Cream? 

L: Black Cherry Ice Cream

Anyone you would like to give shout outs to and thank? 

Thanks to Duane, Wayne and Ashlee for being my biggest supporters. Most people think being an editor is easy but it actually takes many hours of my day. A very big thank you to every ChopCult contributor, member, and follower who continues to support and use ChopCult as a part of their everyday lives. I believe we are making a difference for the good and see progress daily. Lastly, thanks to you Michael, for giving me a chance to display my work. This is the first time my photos will be showcased, which is awesome and kind of scary at the same time.

Any words of wisdom you would like to share? 

L: Think before you react and always follow through. 

Be sure to come see Lisa's work at Fuel Cleveland May 9th, and for more of her writing and photography you can go to www.chopcult.com and  www.theshinyside.blogspot.com

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Fuel Cleveland After Party Saturday Night, May 9th, 2015

The after party is hosted by Biltwell and Street Chopper Magazine and will start on Saturday, May 9th 2015 once Fuel Cleveland ends, and goes till last call. It is located at Hoopples, 1930 Columbus Rd., Cleveland, Ohio 44113, which is nestled at the edge of The Flats, the steel yards and the Cuyahoga river. It is a short ride from the show, and is a great spot to check out a killer view of downtown, grab some food and drinks, and listen to Cleveland's own American Werewolves who will be playing that evening.

Corner of Franklin and Columbus in the Flats.
Beautiful views from Hooples.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Fuel Cleveland Pre Party Friday Night, May 8th, 2015

The pre party is Friday, May 8th 2015 from 6 – 10 p.m. at Whiskey Grade and is hosted by Whiskey Grade and Iron & Air Magazine. Whiskey Grade is located at 2515 Jay Ave., Cleveland, Ohio 44113, and is located in Ohio City, a lively area of Cleveland with plenty of good options for bars and restaurants before or after the party. You can check out the Whiskey Grade store opening and Fuel pre-party event page on Facebook and RSVP here!

Here are a few pics of the building, just off of 25th St.

If you pass 26th street you have gone too far!

Spread the word and share this with your friends!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Travis Hess - Kolor By Tuki

Travis Hess aka Tuki has sprayed a significant amount of paint onto the world of cars and bikes over the past 20 plus years. Some of my all-time favorite paint jobs on bikes have come from the hands of Travis. From Born-Free builds to close friend's bikes, every single bike he touches is an instant classic. Clean lines, on-point pinstriping, and the best color combinations are always a part of Travis' style. Some of the color choices he uses, you would never think would go together but it always does it just perfectly. It was a no-brainer to ask Travis to paint a Biltwell Gringo helmet for Fuel Cleveland that will be on display on May 9th. I am super glad he made time in his hectic schedule to paint it because what he sent in for the show is truly a remarkable piece that anyone could wear on their head. Here is little a one on one we had the other day, enjoy!

-Mikey Revolt

Where did the name Tuki come from? Any cool story behind it?

T: Not a really a cool story but kind of silly... When I bought my house years ago, I couldn't remember my home phone number so to try and remember it I tried to see what it could spell on the dial pad of the phone and it came up Bob Tuki. My buddies at the tattoo shop started calling me Tuki and it stuck? Ha!

What got you into art?

T: I was always drawing as a kid, then after school I thought I'd go to art school in Pittsburgh but after a tour I realized I could make more money sanding cars at my Dads shop. I ditched that idea of school... bought a drag VW with my money and went to work.

How long have you been at your craft?

T: I've been painting full time 21 years this August.

What's your favorite thing you have ever painted and why? 

T: I think my Dad's coupe and his drag car I just painted this past winter... basically because no one dictated what I did, I just did it how I wanted to. I've painted so many cars but but those are probably my two favorite. I also did a rad jet boat, that's up there too. 

Any crazy stories or friendships made from painting?

T: I've made lots of good friends through painting. I love talking paint at shows. My favorite part is hanging with the old pros.

When did motorcycles become a part of your life?

T: I got my first bike when I was like 7 it was a Honda trail 50 and my Dad had Harley's when I was little.

Who or what inspires you and does it reflect in your designs and techniques?

T: I'm inspired mostly by 70's drag car paint and Lowriders. Mainly the California Lowrider painters. Lettering it's Grimes and Glen Weisgerber mostly.

If you could only have one bike, what bike would it be and why?

That's a tuff one, I love Triumphs so I think I'd like to have a mint '66 Triumph T120TT. They are fast and killer to look at.

What car or bike do you currently have and or are working on?

T: I have an '02 Sporty and a 70Tr6C Triumph that I'm changing up. I'm also in the middle of a big Hotrod build with my Dad '32 Ford coupe.

If you could jump on a bike and go anywhere in the world where would it be and why?

T: I think it would be amazing to buzz up the coast in Cali with my wife on the back...

Any big projects in the works right now?

T: I'm working on a '60 Impala right now full custom paint and I have a '68 Hemi Cuda drag car restoration paint coming in soon. Notice I don't talk much about chopper paint, I seem to get over looked with the chopper crowd. Ha!

Favorite thing to do other then painting and riding motorcycles?

T: I like being with my wife and riding in my old roadster on the back roads. We live a pretty simplistic life.

What are some challenges if any you face when doing custom art for customers?

T: I think for me it's the budget. Always trying to do the best quality work in someone's budget is the a challenge.

What was a day in the life like for 16 year old Travis?

T: I guess cruising in my Cali-look VW beetle and skateboarding. I can't remember much from then, too many paint fumes? 

Van Halen with David lee Roth or Van Hagar?

T: Definitely Roth. Go ahead and Jump!

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

T: My Dad and Mom for giving me the opportunity to do what I love each day, my wife Lauren is always my biggest fan, and God for the talents I have in my life. Thanks!

Make sure to check out Travis' Biltwell helmet that will be on display at Fuel Cleveland on May 9th and to see more of his work go to www.kolorbytuki.com

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Frank Bowman - The Iron Panther

Photo By: Erick Runyon

We extended an invite out to Frank Bowman hailing all the way from St. Petersburg, Florida where he will be bringing his one of a kind Ironhead called "The Iron Panther" to showcase on May 9th for Fuel Cleveland. It was recently featured in the Handbuilt Show. We asked ourselves, "Why not have Frank come to Cleveland and have him showoff this crazy machine to the Midwest?" His talents of building bikes is out of this world and he has a fresh take on how a bike should look. We couldn't be more honored to have him and his awesome Ironhead be a part of this show. Personally, I cannot wait to see this thing in person fly down Lakeside Ave., it just looks super fun. I asked Frank to write a little about himself and about the bike/build, here is what came of it.

-Mikey Revolt

My name is Frank Bowman, I own and operate Bowman Motorcycles out of St. Petersburg, Florida. The bike I will be bringing took the better part of a year and a half to build. The frame started life as a 1952 K model that I soon cut into pieces leaving only the lower engine cradle, goosnecked and sitting only 3 1/2 inches off the ground the bike stands at a total height of 27 1/2 inches to the tallest part of the motorcycle and rolls on a set of vintage 500.16 Firestone tires. The mill is a magneto powered Ironhead built from a combination of years for the most aesthetic and reliable components with hand made tins, bars and brass components. The fairing is an alloy hand shaped fairing dressing and a 1949 h-1 spotlight. The springer has been narrowed and chopped a significant amount to accommodate the low stance of the bike. I recently participated at The One Show in Portland, Oregon this year and just returned from Austin, Texas where I was an invited builder for the Handbuilt Motorcycle Show. I'm very excited to be given the opportunity to participate in this year's Fuel Cleveland!!! I have a lot of family strung about through Cleveland, Cincinnati and Kentucky so your show location has a lot of importance to me!  Thank you again so much for having me! - Sincerely Frank Bowman, Bowman Motorcycles :)

To see more of Frank's builds go to www.instagram.com/frankiebowmanmotorcycles and be sure to see "The Iron Panther" on May 9th at Fuel Cleveland.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Jesse Basset The Gasbox

Cleveland's own Jesse Basset owner of The Gasbox, and one of the curators for Fuel Cleveland is one of the most talented bike builders in the Midwest. His vast knowledge of everything two wheeled is far past many and he does it with a distinct style and grace. When you see a bike come out of Jesse's shop you can expect nothing but the highest quality builds; with perfect lines, beautiful proportions, extremely clean and polished overall look, all while having a small touch of class. Every bike build of Jesse's is truly timeless and you know it was built with the upmost craftsmanship. He has won countless awards, and has been featured in tons of magazines and other online publications through out the years. From super high end and rare builds, to one of a kind choppers, whatever bike Jesse puts his hands on it's done masterfully. It's really amazing to have someone so close to home with the knowledge and experience that Jesse has; he's always willing to offer help where he can and his knowledge of pretty much every type of motor makes life a bit easier on the Greater Cleveland area. Over the past 6 months, I have been working with him on Fuel Cleveland and we have become closer friends. To see his passion for motorcycles is truly remarkable and refreshing to see some one who cares so much about these machines. I'm excited to say Jesse will have on display his Born Free 6 Knucklehead build on May 9th for the show. I asked a few questions the other day to the man who hides behind the scenes and let's his bikes do all the talking; heres what came of it, enjoy!

-Mikey Revolt

When did The Gasbox open it’s doors?

J- Gasbox opened in 2009.

Have you always been a Cleveland Native?

J- I have always lived in cleveland, I grew up right on 88th and Denison. 

How long have you been Building motorcycles?

J- I started working in a local custom bike shop when I was 10 yrs old sweeping the floors.

What is your favorite bike you have ever built and why?

J- So far my favorite bike I have built is this '76 Ironhead I did a few years ago. The customer wanted a chopper and I built something I wanted to do instead, I later bought it from him haha. Not sure why it's my favorite, maybe because there is nothing I would change about it.

What was the most insane bike you have ever worked on?

J- The most insane bike I ever built was when I worked at Huey's. It was a supercharged 100 ci Shovelhead with 2 rear wheels driven through a jack shaft and air ride. Not really my style but it was a ton of work since I had to make every part of it. There was nothing that would bolt on.

Who or what inspires your style? You have a lot of timeless bikes that look vintage yet new. Is there a certain time period you like more when it comes to style of motorcycles?

J- I am not inspired by any particular era in motorcycling, I just believe when you look at a bike you should not be able to tell when it was built.

What is the most challenging thing for you when it comes to building a bike?

J- I think the most challenging part of building a bike is establishing the proportions.

How many bikes do you work on in a week? I see one on every lift table you have in your shop and a few even on roll carts ahahah. 

J- We are usually building a dozen bikes at time. This is not just full blown customs but a lot of mild stock modifications and restorations. 

Where has been your favorite place to ride motorcycles?

J- For me the best motorcycle riding is Cali, no potholes and windy roads.

If you could own only one bike, what would it be and why?

J- If I could only own one bike it would have to be a 1976 Superglide. Looks cool, goes fast enough for me, and parts are everywhere.

Anyone you would like to give shout outs to or thank?

J- I would like to thank in advance everyone helping with the Fuel Cleveland show and everyone who will be attending.

For more of Jesse's amazing bikes go to www.thegasbox.com and be sure to see his Born Free 6 Knucklehead build in person at Fuel Cleveland on May 9th.