Thursday, May 20, 2010

Dixie Olin and Her Art For Bikers

You meet the coolest people when you take a leap of faith and ask them if they'd be interested in sharing who they are through an interview. Dixie Olin loves Bikers and loves to paint Bikers. How cool is that!?! Meet Dixie Olin, Biker Artist!

I am a Michigan artist living in Grand Rapids with my youngest daughter Devin and my significant other(such a weird term) Fred Houseman. Maybe we could just list Fred as the best man I've ever known.

I do not currently own a motorcycle. I am working on developing a custom bike with some of the builders I have met, still a dream, but I know it will happen.

I first rode with my ex-husband, he had an old yellow 80's AMF Harley, "Old Yeller" We had a lot of good times with that bike, although I don't miss the little black streak I had down the back of everything I rode in because the darn thing leaked oil on the chain without fail. I have had the chance to ride with other people over the last few years, always loved it. Some of the best times I had were on the back of a friends Screaming Eagle Road King, that thing could fly! Great trips to the UP of Michigan and out to Sturgis, I have had the chance to meet many great people and see some beautiful country during those times.

My website is Art For Bikers.

I studied painting with a variety of wonderful instructors, but have no "formal training". I worked toward learning to paint portraits with the thought that bikers are so "tribal" :) The leather, the patches and chains, more interesting faces than you would ever see at a fashion show, a treasure of subject matter, not to mention the challenge of painting chrome on a lot of black on black! Life had other ideas, I became a mom and ended up riding less and painting a lot of kids portraits! Good times, but now the kids are grown and it's time for mom to have some fun.

When did I start painting bikers? I don't know exactly when, but "The General" was one of the first portraits I did, he is the most recognized rider in this state. That portrait and one called "Presence of Order" both images were from photos from our biggest "Blessing of the Bikes" in Baldwin, MI. If you look at the chrome in " Presence of Order" and compare it to the chrome I paint now, I believe you can see some growth in the process.

People can view my work at various bike events, my website will be adding a calendar I am always at the Blessing in Baldwin, but not to paint, to take photos. Prints of my work as well as some originals can be seen at Teazer's Bar in Grand Rapids. I am always at ChopperFest in Martin, MI in July. At the spring and fall custom bike shows in Otsego, MI with Davidson Express. The MDA Black and Blue Ball for West Michigan, Fox 17 Ride for Babies, and will be at The Ride to Hell and Back this year in Hell, MI

"Hanging with Friends" is my most popular image. I think it is because it doesn't matter what you ride and the fact it is about friends and friendship, hanging out together, sticking together when times are tough. Faithfulness, love of country represented by the flag on one of the jackets. It reminds me of a run with good friends, the first run of spring and good, good times. I don't have a favorite painting, they are all my favorites and each new one brings new excitement, new friends. Everyone is so passionate about what they ride, and their own experience, it carries over to the work and makes it for wonderful paintings.

I can not think of a motto I live by, but I have always told my daughters that they make me rich and they still do.

I have had many great teachers as well as support from family and friends. After my divorce someone said to me "If you were a responsible mom you would quit this painting thing and get a factory job with health insurance." My girls cried and told me that they would eat peanut butter and jelly, but that I had to paint, it was who I was. I have had many side jobs from bartender to landscaper but I never quit painting. It is still what I want to do when I grow up!:)

Mentors and people who inspire? My mom, she encouraged me to paint, she would get me paint by numbers when I was a kid and then I would get in trouble for painting under the sheets with a flashlight at night. I would start a painting and could not stop until it was done. She took me to her art classes when I was 8 or 9 and they would give me paint just to keep me out of their hair!:0) She wall papered a wall downstairs with Saturday Evening Post Magazine covers, they were all Norman Rockwell paintings. From the floor to the ceiling I could look at all those wonderful paintings of regular people as well as the famous, I think you can see his influence in my work, at least I would be honored if you could!

What makes a biker? LOL I've heard "regular" friends who call their parents Mr. and Mrs. a biker friend calls them mom and dad. I have a love of bikers in general, they are like my family. There have been times I have felt very alone in the universe, my bikers friends said, we don't care if you have a bike to ride anymore, we love you just the way you are. I have many paintings that are from The Blessing of the Bikes in Baldwin, MI, that is just one example of bikers getting together and raising money for people who are in need. That event raises enough money to feed 3 county food banks for the year. The bikers just showed up to be blessed and then they take a little putt around the neighborhood and ask nothing in return.

Everyone want to know a crazy story from being on the road, the really crazy ones I can't tell! A cute one is from an painting I did of a man and his granddaughter on his bike. I finished it and quite often the name of the painting is one of the hardest things. I thought about Grandpa's girl, but how boring! I called the gal and asked if they had special names for each other......"Oh yes, he is Poppa Harley" cute I thought........."and she is Dammit!" I was pleasantly surprised, she told me that he calls her Dammit and he has her picture and name tattooed on his arm!:) So the image is now called Poppa Harley and Dammit.

I am always looking for the next painting. Commissions are very welcome. People can find me through the web-site. I can work with their photos or take them for the painting. I can change backgrounds, put you in Vegas or in front of the Mackinaw Bridge. I can usually look at a photo and tell if it will work for a painting. It is hard to give a price, each piece is one of a kind, but I can look at the photo and start a conversation about price, I will let you know what it is before I start the piece. It makes a future heirloom! A down payment starts the process and you can make payments. My daughter came up with ArtForBikers..........capturing the ride you can't forget!

Thank you so much Dixie for sharing your art and thoughts with us. You definitely have a love for Bikers!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Ain't Buyin What Hairy's Cell'n - My Light the Night Team

I know it's pretty far away but I've created a team for the Light the Night Walk to Fight Leukemia and Lymphoma. On October 9th my team and I will be walking in support of finding a cure for blood cancers. As many of you know I fought Hairy Cell Leukemia and kicked it's butt! I've created my team, Ain't Buyin What Hairy's Cell'n. If you would like to donate please visit my team page and donate! I appreciate your support!!!
Welcome to our Team's Homepage

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Giving You Some Swag

As you all know I'm very fond of motorcycles...DUH! I could look at photos of motorcycles for hours. One day I found Swag's Rant on another blogger's favorite blog list and I was instantly in motorcycle photo heaven. I kept thinking to myself...damn, this guy takes great photos of motorcycles plus he writes interesting articles too. Well as time passed I started to follow Swag on Twitter and we became Twitter peeps, so I got up the nerve to ask Swag if he'd be interested in doing an interview. He agreed and also told me I'm the first person to interview him so I'm pretty darn stoked about that. Hope you enjoy getting to know Swag. He's a cool cat from down yonder in Tennessee.

First off I have to know how you got the name Swag...
Swag comes from the music industry... it's what they call the freebies you get from labels and artists, etc.... (tshirts, comp cd's and other junk) One of my riding buddies heard me talking about getting some swag from someone one day and thought it would be funny to call me Swag Boy. Swag stuck and although it really makes no sense whatsoever to the bike community and nobody gets it... that's who Ive become. haha!

Give me a bio about you.

I was born in Kansas City, Missouri but grew up in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago where sports, photography, music, hot rods and of course motorcycles were my obsessions. My college years found me back in the Kansas City area and that's when the arts (music, photography, design) moved to the forefront of my life. I supported myself (and not very well I might add) by playing music through the late 1980's with a bunch of bands you've never heard of (haha) which eventually landed me in Nashville, Tennessee where I had very brief stints as guitarist with a couple Contemporary Christian artists in the early 1990's. Long story short, I eventually landed a full-time photography/design gig with a prominent music industry company in late 1994 and have been in that field since. Of course all along my path there have been motorcycles and hot rods so naturally, I sort of fell into side gigs doing photography and design in the regional bike and hot rod cultures.

When were you first aware of your interest in motorcycles?

When I was about 3 years old my aunt came for a visit to our house with her new boyfriend. I remember the distinct sound I heard when they rode up on a Harley-Davidson touring bike and it made such an impact on me that I still vividly recall even some of the details of that bike... like the rail that ran around the back of the seat and the white grips. I also remember how most in my family looked down on the "hoodlum biker" that had stolen my aunt’s heart. It's funny how even at that age I was aware of peoples preconceived notions of bikers... and I’m glad that my parents were not like that. They welcomed this guy and as for me... I could barely contain my excitement over that bike and I thought the guy was cool. BTW... as it turns out, he was a good guy... and he started what was a lifelong love of motorcycles for me. I often think about that when kids approach me today and want to see my bike. I always make time for them just like my aunt’s boyfriend did for me.

What was the first bike that you owned? What do you currently ride?

When I was 6, and after a long time of pleading my case, my dad finally convinced my mother that I wasn’t going to kill myself on 2 wheels and she let him spring for a used Sears mini-bike for me. It was the one with the lawn mower engine on it with the rope pull. It wasn’t much but man I loved it!

I currently have four bikes. A 2006 Electra Glide Standard for when I’m feeling may age, a 2001 Suzuki SV650S for when I feel sporty, a 1993 Honda CR250R for when I feel like I’m young again, and a 1984 Kawasaki 550LTD that my dad and I bobbed just for the heck of it.

Tell us about Biker Swag Design and Photography Services.

BikerSwag is the calling card for my motorcycle related work. I do all kinds of biker-related photography as well as web and print design for motorcycle related companies and events.

How long have you been in this industry?

I started considering the motorcycle industry a viable source of work in 2005.

Do you have a favorite photo shoot?

That’s a tough one because they are all fun. One of the most memorable ones though was a few years back when a local company sent me to Las Vegas to shoot guitarist Ace Frehley of KISS. This was back during the bands reunion and when the WWF was still rockin’. KISS was playing a couple songs for Monday Nitro which was the WWF’s big televised event and the shoot was scheduled in the KISS dressing room backstage before the event. It was all so surreal… haha! Here I was in Las Vegas (whacky town), at the WWF’s Monday Nitro (walking around in the midst of larger than life wrestlers like Hulk Hogan) shooting Ace Frehley (of a band that performs in Goth Makeup)! Can’t get much more bizarre than that!

Of course, any time there are motorcycles involved its tons of fun for me too. Like when I shot local builder Browder Ledbetter’s custom Triumph in front of a Nashville landmark for one of our state magazines. A beautiful bike!

Do you work mainly in the Tennessee area or do you travel to other parts of the country?

Most of my photography work is this area but I have design clients across the country thanks to the digital age. There are some clients I have never met face to face. The whole process of concept to completed project is done via email and file transfer.

What has been your greatest accomplishment or are there many?

I’m still working on that one… ha!

Could you tell me about your websites and what people can find there?

The one that would be of most interest to your readers would be Biker Swag which showcases some of my recent work in the motorcycle industry, both photography and design. And there is a blog related to it which I call Swag’s Rant. It’s sort of my personal outlet for all things two-wheel related and includes my thoughts as well as product reviews and interviews.

Do you have any mentors or people that you look up to?

I have been blessed to have more than a few people in the photography/design fields that have been very unselfish with me… especially in the beginning when I was real green… that helped get me pointed in the right direction.

Someone more famous whose photo work I admire is Jeff Cochran of Speed King Photo. His images are just fantastic and capture the emotion of the moment… the kind of images I look at and say, “man, I wish I had shot that!”

What cameras do you use to shoot your amazing photos?

Well, I’m definitely a Canon snob… haha. I’m currently using a Canon 7D DSLR with a variety of lenses for the critical stuff but most of the images you see on my RANT are shot with a very small Canon SD1000 point-and-shoot. I love that camera because it fits in my pocket and does a great job for the web stuff. I process all images with Adobe Photoshop as well.

Do you have any big projects in the works for the future?

Yes, I recently became the Art Director for an upstart Hot Rod magazine called Grease Monkey. It caters to the Rat Rod and Rat Bike crowd and is really cool.

What is your favorite rally or do you have more then one favorite?

Honestly, I’ve never been much of a rally kind of guy. Large crowds usually just piss me off so I tend to avoid them… haha!

Where is the best place in the country to ride?

One day I want to ride the west coast line but last year a couple friends and I rode the Blueridge Parkway to Blowing Rock, NC and it was awesome. Of course most people in and around Tennessee would probably say the Tail of the Dragon, which I’ve ridden a few times.

Do you have any mottos that you live by?

No real mottos but having integrity is a biggie for me. I try to treat everyone from clients to friends with respect and total honesty. I despise people whose word I can’t trust.

What are your other passions beyond motorcycles and photography?

I kind of alluded to it earlier but music is a big deal in my life. I started playing guitar at the age of 8 and have never stopped. For a while it was my source of income.

How does riding enrich your life?

Oh man... beyond words. Its such a soul cleansing thing for me and definitely contributes to my sanity!

What do you think makes a "Biker"?

I know a lot of people are funny about the word biker but to me, anybody who rides and has a passion for two wheels is a biker on some level. And I’m for sure not a brand snob. (Note what’s in my garage.) The old saying that “I don’t care what you ride, if you ride you are my friend” would apply to me.

Are there any motorcycle publications that you would recommend?

I have subscribed to a bunch of mags in the past but the only one that has survived my subscription list is Cycle World. Honestly I mostly just read great blogs on-line like yours. There is a list on my RANT of my favorites.

What have you been published in?

I write a monthly column for Thunder Roads Tennessee and have been published in several of their sister publications including Kentucky, Alabama, Florida… I’ve also been published in The Horse Backstreet Choppers and Road Bike and on the music side of things everything from Guitar Player to Guitar World to Revolver to SPIN and even USA Today.

Where does the design aspect come into your business?

There is always some design aspect when framing a photo but beyond that I’ve been blessed to create several websites for clients in the motorcycle world as well as print design for others. Print Ad Services

What is the wildest thing that has happened to you out on the road?

Nothing all that wild but I did ride through a hail storm with little visibility in the mountains of East Tennessee one time… not interested in doing that again.

What is the most important lesson you've learned out on the road?

Riding is almost a spiritual thing for me… so I often learn a lot about myself when riding. Introspection comes easy when it’s just God, my motorcycle and me.

What is your favorite swear word?

Haha… I usually don’t use them but cut me off on my bike and all bets are off!

What music are you currently listening to?

Anything guitar-oriented is cool for me… but I just got the new Slash self titled CD and it is the best thing he has ever done. There are a bunch of guest vocalists including the great Lemmy Kilmeister, Myles Kennedy, Ozzy, Iggy Pop, Chris Cornell and even Fergie. It’s fantastic. Also on the iPod right now is the new Scorpions, The Dixie Dregs and Joe Satriani Live.

What are you currently reading?

I just picked up a copy of a great book called “Inbound Marketing” by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah. Always trying to gain the marketing edge!

Thanks for the great interview, Swag! Looking forward to many more of Swag's Rants and those amazing Biker Swag photos!!

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Somebody Pinch Me!

Dan and I left on the Glide and were a few blocks down the road when Dan pointed at the speedometer and tachometer. Nothing, nada, zip going on there. We headed back home and after finding that it's not a fuse but possibly the sensor we decided to take Sadie to a parking lot so that I could get some practice in. Here are some pictures from my 2nd time out on her. Dan said I had permagrin on my face the entire time. A few more times of this and I'll be out on the road!

A huge thanks to Dan for his patience with me and the great tips he's given me. It's all clicking and I'm owning it! I'm giddy like a kid at Christmas...the sunshine just keeps on a shining down on me! :)