Thursday, May 31, 2012

Bike Night #3... bloody good!

Holy fuck best Bike Night so far at Smash Palace tonight! Bunch of bikes, real mixture of machines, and a bunch of new faces. Was totally awesome. My favourite bike of the night was 'Satanico Lugar Peligroso', a hard-tail Harley chop that totally stole the show. I've forgotten the guys name who owns/made it? (Sorry man, I'll see you next week and you can remind me!). PZ pulled off his exhaust and fucked about with that, people played table soccer, drank beer and talked about bikes while Johnny's dad's old car was getting worked on by some older gentlemen. Then this dude from the Quake City Rumblers on the red scooter smoked up a tyre for us all, and then when we left a bunch of us ended up riding out to the ring road out by the airport and riding around like idiots. Fucking great night. I love Thursdays!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Triumph Thruxton seat finished

My new seat is finally bloody done! It was slow going getting it to mount properly and also be strong enough after I'd cut so much away from the pan (although it's still not as small as I'd imagined I'd make it). I'll stick up some process/working shots of the whole thing at some point soon, I ended up putting aluminium 'rails' under the seat. It's a tight fit and I broke the weld on the little bracket Marty welded onto the tank for the seat to locate into. Will fix that soon, but hoping to take this bike to Dunedin this weekend. It hasn't got a warrant or rego though and I have to get a new tyre – of course there's no Bridgestone BT45s in NZ right now, so thinking about what I might put on instead.

There's still a bunch to do on this bike. I'll put an alloy front mudguard on soon, and then do something about lowering the dials. I'm also thinking about putting a slightly wider rear mudguard on it? I'm really happy with the Trident tank. Enjoying it plain at the moment, but will paint something on it at some point, and also run something (vinyl or leather) up the center of the tank. One thing that's buggin me now is the mufflers... they stick out too much and are too big. I'd like to put little short ones on it, keep the whole thing really 'thin'. Oh and I gotta paint the rear indicator brackets...

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Ornamental Conifer & Corpses From Hell

Finally got in touch with Nicolai Sclater of 'Ornamental Conifer' today. He and Maxwell Paternoster (Corpses From Hell) have been doing some very cool shit lately, and since I'm going to be in London soon I thought I'd see if I could meet up with them and maybe do something for the next issue of Head Full of Snakes. The work they both did recently at El Solitario has been doing the rounds because their hand-painting on the bikes is pretty damn cool... a weird hybrid of cartoon/motorcycle gang/vintage signwriting. Often the work is quite over the top, colourful, and really visually engaging. Hopefully we can make a date while I'm in London and see where things go from there. In the meantime here's some work by Nicolai – I got these from the Ornamental Conifer blog here. You can find some of Max's stuff here and here (Corpses From Hell).

Saturday, May 26, 2012

E Otto Chapman, my McCahon typeface, and David's *Latent Stare*

Cinema hoarding: Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond
Chapman, E Otto 
New Zealand, 1950s, M0042

Head Full of Snakes has quite easily turned into a motorcycle blog, because for a while now that's what I've been mostly thinking about. I started this blog however with the intention to talk about three things – motorcycles, graphic design, and music. These are three things that I do, and that I am involved in in various ways. Lately I've been trying to decide whether to keep this blog simply being about motorcycles or whether to return to that original intention to try and operate between those three things again. This blog gets a lot of hits now, mostly, I'm assuming, from people interested in motorcycles. Especially since the launch of our magazine 'Head Full of Snakes' earlier this year. I'm a little worried therefore that returning to posting stuff about design and music might either 'water down' the motorcycle thing and/or put some people off. However, I am going to try it for a bit and see what happens... I have a couple of interesting projects on right now, and more than anything else I just want a place to store/archive this information as it develops. I am specifically interested in the overlaps here too – the slippage. This was something we both (Stuart and I) talked about in the first issue of HFoS too. So here goes...

Unless otherwise credited this is my own 
primary/original research. 
Please contact me if you want to use 
or reference aspects of this in your own work.

The image above was made by a Wellington-based commercial artist called E. Otto Chapman in the 1950s. It's a detail that's been cut out of a bigger canvas 'bill board' sort of thing that was used to advertise the film 'Sunset Boulevard' (USA 1950) when it was shown at Wellington's Majestic Theatre. It's from the collection of The New Zealand Film Archive and I got it from here, where a text says:
"It was painted by E Otto Chapman, a commercial artist who made advertising displays for Kerridge Odeon’s four Wellington cinemas - The Majestic, Embassy, Regent and St James - from 1940 until the late 1970s. Situated in a studio above the Majestic Theatre, Chapman worked from small black and white publicity stills of the films’ stars to create huge colourful hoardings. With the advent of multiplexes in the 1980s, hand made cinema hoardings largely disappeared. The Film Archive holds a several other displays painted by Chapman, along with scrapbooks containing mementos and records he retained about his career."

A couple of years ago I actually went to the Film Archive to look through this scrapbook. It was interesting but there wasn't that much information. I photographed everything though (these photos here are mine from that visit), and I've had it all sitting here waiting for me to write something about it for 'The National Grid' at some point. I was quite interested in the fact that Chapman really saw himself as a portrait painter. 

You know this because he was so fond of these portaits he'd cut them out of the larger hoardings and keep them. Just the faces though. I thought it was interesting because he was also very accomplished at hand-painted lettering but he didn't seem to want to keep any of that. Lettering wasn't important? The other thing, perhaps the main thing, I wanted to try to write about was his sort of professional demise as large format photographic printing became more readily available. It was quite depressing looking through his work and seeing the move from the technical artistry of his painting toward the more cut-an-paste photographic cardboard cut-out display man.


The reason I'm revisiting this now, almost four years later actually, is that I am doing a project for an exhibition David Bennewith is putting together at CASCO in Utrecht at the start of July. The exhibition is called *Latent Stare* and you can see more info, including his premise for the show here. David has invited me to present my typeface 'McCahon' at this exhibition, and in doing so I'm going to attempt to channel the spirits of these two very different painters – Chapman, the unknown, invisible, and forgotten 'commercial artist', and the most famous painter/artist New Zealand has ever produced, Colin McCahon. I'm interested in the improbable venn diagram that arises from these two men working at the same time, in the same medium, in the same country, but who are really worlds apart.  

Left: E. Otto Chapman
Right: Colin McCahon

Friday, May 25, 2012

Smash Palace 'Bike Night' #2

Second Bike Night at Smash Palace this last Thursday. Couple more bikes this time including this awesome 'steppy' and Joska's bad ass CB750. Also of note were the NOS Honda overalls Johnny had scored off Trademe. PZ only just fit into the blue ones, and Greg, Johnny and PZ worked on Johnny's big Suzuki. I can't remember what it is exactly? Apparently they got it going later on after we'd left. Was a bloody good night, looking forward to next Thursday already. Should have my Thruxton at the next one...