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Friday, May 20, 2016

Scott Takes - Underground Art Studios

I remember the first time I saw one of Scott's pieces of artwork. I was at Born Free 6 and there was a tank art display with a dozen or so tanks in it. I instantly gravitated towards Scott's who's was in the left corner of the little structure the tanks were being housed in. His tank was a perfect and on point portrait of the late Larry Pierce. I remember taking a photo of it and posting it on social media right away. People instantly pointed out that's Scott's work from Underground Art Studios and from then on I have been a big fan. I was extremely happy to see Scott accepted our invitation for Fuel Cleveland and his tank he has made for the show is incredible. Be sure to come see it on May 28th! I still don't know a ton about Scott personally other then his art work so I sat down with him the other day, asked him some questions and tried to get to know him a little better. This is what came of it, enjoy.

- Mikey Revolt

Tell us a little about you, your history and your shop.

I was Born and raised in Iowa. I took all the art classes provided before my junior year in high school, so my art teacher rewarded me with an independent study. I was able to do whatever I wanted, and get credit for it in Art. This led to the purchase of an airbrush and the start of my commission work. I graduated High School with a good base for production, but wanted to learn more about design. I choose a quick 2 year degree in commercial art and I freelanced a wide variety of design for a few years. Logo and advertising design, murals, and even some interior design. I traveled some and worked in other cities, but I was happy to admit that Iowa is my comfortable. I started airbrushing some high end apparel and custom denim jackets that really took off. I was doing a lot of commissions, hand painted leathers, and some portrait work. I started supplying a pretty large volume of these to a couple of high roller retailers in Malibu, California until the place was burned up in the crazy forest fires that devastated much of that area. All of my samples, the contacts there, and quite a bit of money was lost in that deal.

I was pretty bummed about these guys loosing everything they had worked for, but their big fancy house in Malibu was insured and I was a broke and hungry artist...

I started building things to paint with wood and canvas and airbrushing portraits and illustrations on them, selling them to friends and commercial clients. The jobs became enough for me to buy my first Harley and the desire to paint motorcycles and moto art was coming full circle.. I started painting on motorcycles and I love it. I have trusting and loyal clients, like minded people and extremely talented builders call on me for challenging design opportunities. Everyday is different. From the engineer building a weekend warrior in his garage to the well known fabrication guru hammering out the details on his Born Free build, I love them all.

My studio is my second home. I painted out of my basement for many years, as came the name, Underground Art Studios. Also, I collaborate with many talented people like fabricators, welders, guys that do fiberglass, bodywork, pinstripers, and other painters. I am impressed with the talents of so many people that are outstanding at what they do, but few know about them...so, I considered them all to be Underground Artists. Now, my studio is in a 40 x 40 shop in downtown Cedar Rapids. I love it! It is mostly made up of recycled, up-cycled equipment or should I say, other people's junk? I paint out of a walk-in cooler. It's a low overhead situation, and it allows me to accept projects with lower budgets.

I work with good people in my studio. I subcontract work to Tyler Chekal, who is graced with some outstanding talents and drive, this guy inspires me. Often times, I will sub out bodywork or prep and finish work to him. He has a great eye for design too, and can always give me advice on solid production techniques on bigger jobs, unique applications etc. Heather Slater is also a staple to Underground Art Studios. Heather has been with me for a long time, and she knows how I work. Heather can assist in the computer aided illustration, or mock ups. This will help the communication stay consistent between design and finished product.

What do you specialize in or what is your favorite technique?

Airbrush is my specialty. I find that coming up with new ways to use the airbrush is my technique. I have designed and painted a few cut outs of aluminum that I am excited about. When my schedule allows I will do more of those. You may have seen them in the Michael Lichter show in Sturgis, or the Dave Mann show in California.

When did art find you or did you find art?

Graffiti. I saw it, I knew it was done with a can of spray paint, so the more intense work I saw, the more attracted to it I became. The more I wanted to break down the production, and create my own pieces on paper that I could figure out what to paint first, second, and so forth to get the best end result. I love the production of something, knowing why you are putting it there, and how much, and so on...painting with a purpose.

Who or what inspires you and your style?

People, the owners of a machine or buyer of a piece of art inspire design. Motorcycles, themselves often tell you what they want on them if you pay attention. Tradition, depth, realism, motorcycle builders, tattoo artists.

Do you feel like you have found your style or are you still searching?

I have not found it, but I am not searching either. I am constantly breaking down the production of many styles, and recreating them in different scales. I just don’t see myself as an artist that has this one style that is what makes me unique. I think my style is diverse…it's more safe. I can do more if I am open to other peoples ideas. I have done lots of photo realistic paintings. Portraits, automobiles, naked ladies, pinups, memorials, I simply need to stay working, keep everything I put out in some form of high quality, and make a little money for my family. 

What is the most challenging thing for you when it comes to painting?

I have too many ideas. I sometimes struggle to choose what is my favorite idea for the project.

Where did your love for motorcycles come from?

College, sunday afternoon, going to some dragon boat races on the Mississippi with my gal. Couple showed up at her house on a rigid, cone shovel chopper with straight drag pipes. The bike, a timeless, classic chopper...I watched, listened, and witnessed a sense of freedom that I had never been so close to. I paid attention. I got mine now. I will have it forever, to share.

What was the first motorcycle you have ever owned? 

What was special about it and/or not so special about it haha. It was a 1200 Sportster. It was owned by a factory sponsored motocross rider. The dealership is Metro Suzuki / Harley-Davidson. He never rode it. It was flawless. My brother and I talked him out of it. It lead me to my Panhead. 

When did you start mixing art with motorcycles?

I rode to a big party on Memorial Day in Stone City, Iowa. The streets were lined with Harley's. The live music had me in good spirits, and I was lit. I decided to split the crowd. I wondered into the street and went from taking in the view of the mass number of motorcycles lining both sides of the street, to studying the details of the machines individually. The glaring reality of the fact that the few bikes that had any hand painted art on them was clearly a booze induced experiment. I wanted to try to put my artwork on bikes.

What’s one of your all time favorite paint jobs you have ever done?

There are so many. But the most memorable was Miss Behavin' built by Billy Lane. This was about 2002. I just came off a 580 square foot mural I painted to commemorate the 100 anniversary of Harley-Davidson. I got paid, bought a trailer, put my '94 Nostalgia Special in it and drove through a blizzard to get to bike week in Daytona. No plans, no traveling partners, no time frame. One goal. Meet Billy Lane and thank him for putting some style into the motorcycle market again. This guy was no one hit wonder. He has the same illness I have. Lots of ideas. We met in an alley off Main Street. He had a 10 x10 booth set up with a handful of leaking shovels parked around it. The bikes were dripping with style. Every single one of them. I was so happy to see where the market was going next! Not stock. He had just received the Easyrider's Builder of the Year award when I met him. I knew it was only the beginning of what he could do. I complimented Billy on many of the hand made details in the builds, the addition of car parts used as decor and the choice of using shovel head power plants!!! All the crazy shit he was doing...I loved it all! He said, "you must be some sort of artist?" I said, "well, ya, I am an artist of sort." I gave him some shit about having a sticker of a pinup on the blue long bike. He said "what are you saying? Can you paint that on there?" I said, "sure I can." My first pinup was painted on Miss Behavin' for the first ever episode of Biker Build Off. I owe Billy for not only giving me an opportunity to paint a very well publicized motorcycle, but for introducing me to many talented people in this industry. 

Where is one place you would like to ride to and haven’t had the chance to yet? 

The California coast. I have been to Born Free, but with 3 kids, my wife gets stuck at home so I fly in and fly out. 

If you could only own one bike for the rest of your life what would it be and why? 

My Heritage Softail Nostalgia Special. Because I overpaid for a used motorcycle that was made to replicate something of value. I will own that one forever to always remind me to be mindful of my goals, because I will achieve them. 

Who’s one person you looked up to when you were a kid? Did you get to meet them or know them in any point of your life? 

Evel Knievel and yes, I met him!

Is there any life mottos or codes you live by?
People will see what you did. Not what you are going to do. Be humble and kind.

Are you a pizza delivery or make pizza at home kind of guy? 

My wife, Michelle, and our kids make the best pizza at home. 

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

Family first, I come from a family of 8 kids, and my parents, brothers, and sisters help make me who I am. Thank you to my wife who is an amazing woman, with talents that far surpass anything I could ever do, so I have to work pretty hard to not look like a total loser. My 3 great kids, for hanging out at the shop. Also Jeff Cochran, Tim Anding, Paul Wideman, Billy Lane, Indian Larry, John Parham, Jeff Wright, Casey Fleming, Kevin Baas, Josh Rinas, Heather Slater, Tyler Chekal, and Fuel Cleveland! Also, all of my loyal customers, for believing in my work.

Where can people follow you and see more of your work?

Facebook: Underground Art Studios

Instagram: scott_takes_underground

Underground Art Studios

Some more of Scott's work:

1 comment:

  1. Scott is a true, living legend. Him and McKeag will go down in history as the true greats.