Scream, Create, Repeat
You flip down your visor and clip it into place.
You can still hear the engine running underneath you, but when the lock of your face shield clicks, it gets a little quieter.
It’s still loud, but it’s quiet. Peaceful.
For a lot of motorcyclists, time spent in the saddle offers a bit of respite from everyday life, free from the pinging of Slack notifications and the blue light of the phone scream screen lighting up and dragging your attention away from the task at hand. How are you supposed to be productive, creative, when you’re constantly distracted?
Riding is a chance to empty our brains, but for Charlie Visconage, a DC-based motorcyclist and artist, it’s a space for reflection and artistic ideation. “I find riding meditative. I don’t usually ride in groups or with music in, it’s good for idea generation and getting in that meditative headspace while also having the ultimate awareness you need while you’re on two wheels.”
Visconage started in the art world relatively late in life, buying a few starter supplies, and just having at it. He combined the uninhibited joy of being self-taught and the punchy, aggressive neon colors that contour his artistic style to create portraits that were unique and bright. Visconage reflected that at the start of his art career, “it felt so good just to make a thing.”
There’s also a parallel between the process of creating art and the process of owning and working on a motorcycle, a straight line from starting from nothing—a blank canvas for your art, a stubborn problem or maintenance need for the bike—and then moving forward through time and space and ingenuity and frustration to arrive at a place where you have created something or improved something. At the end of the process, you have wrought something or changed the material world in some small way.
For Visconage, part of the joy of creating art is that cycle of bringing something to completion before starting anew. “I like paintings because there is a point when it’s finished. I don’t believe in the ’oh it’s never done’ blah blah blah. It’s poetic, but it’s bullshit.” And that philosophy is also manifested in his artistic career. After finishing a series of the portraits that were his bread and butter for a time, Visconage had a solo show at Homme Gallery here in DC. After that, in search of a challenge, he turned to landscapes, focusing more on perspective. An art residency in Portugal offered up an old-world European city’s architecture and historic beauty to train an eye on, and to adapt to his signature style.
“An artist friend of mine before I went told me you should try to paint things you think you can’t paint, and for me that was working in perspectives and landscape.” One painting was inspired by both his time in Lisbon and riding. While in Portugal, Visconage had rented a BMW R1250GS and gone riding up the sun-soaked coast of the country, and in that moment, had some time to reflect on how while the world seems to be falling apart in some ways—rising climate change, autocracy, the spiral of human attention into social media—there is still so much beauty to be found in the moment, if you pay attention. The time spent marinating in the helmet there helped inspire the painting THE WORLD IS FUCKED BUT THIS IS NICE. (you can even get this painting as a sticker to put on your water bottle, just a thought)
Ultimately, we’re all seeking the ability to create something at the end of the day. Nobody finds joy in typing out emails, but you can find some joy in covering your hands in paint to transform a blank canvas into some expression of yourself and your experience. Or you can cover your hands in grease and road shit and do some minor (or major!) task on your bike by yourself. Don’t trust others to create every piece of art for you, don’t expect others to always fix your broken motorcycle.
So do it yourself! [Editors note: we highly encourage you to do it yourself at DUNN LEWIS] Express something, create something, fix something! As Visconage puts it, “the most dangerous thing I think you can do is not doing the things you want to and are capable of and will not negatively impact others.”
So get out there. Make something, fix something, feel alive.
And every once in a while, scream into your motorcycle helmet as loud as you can just to remind yourself that you are here and vibrant and full of life.
Words and photos by Ian Hutchinson.
Obviously you love motorcycles, and if you're still reading probably art too. Check out these motorcycle art cards from our hilariously loving & irreverent friends at Oh Hey Fuck You!