In this series “Custom Crafts”, our fresh contributor Ron Betist is taking you along on his journey in discovering the world behind the custom motorcycle scene. Usually, the builder or shop gets all the credits of a completed project, but he or she is often supported by a variety of artists. Ron will give them the credits they deserve. The first episode is about Dutch on Wheels:
Women and wheels
Women and motorbikes invariably form an interesting combination (for a lot of us!). At times they are merely an attractive accessory strategically positioned to generate extra attention to pictures of already cool looking bikes. All very nice and pleasant to look at, but when they are a structural element to the design of the bike itself it becomes a whole different ballgame.
Dutch on Wheels’ Lisa Ottevanger grew up in a bike-minded family in the South of the Netherlands. Her dad and her uncles all rode and wrenched classic bikes. Her fathers customized BMW really hooked her, as far back as the early seventies.
She would just sit in a corner of his shed observing him, while he was fidgeting away customizing a bike to his liking. But the virus grew beyond just watching as she became an enthusiastic pillion partner.
While riding herself was put on the backburner (studying, a relationship and children being the prime ’obstacles’) she has currently set out to get her license. In her teens, she moved to Amsterdam to study arts, but the lure of motorbikes persisted.
Working as a graphic designer it took until 2015 to take a major step and start off on her own creating ‘Dutch on Wheels’. A friend asked her to perform some of her magic on a front fender and his helmet. That’s when the dream started touching reality. Keeping herself busy with commissioned work in her regular job, Lisa steadily drew the attention of the trendy customizing scene with her outstanding work.
Developing a style
She has developed a signature style of her own, working on bikes, boards, helmets, and garments. Making people happy with her creations forms a big source of energy for ‘Dutch on Wheels’, while she effortlessly floats between the worlds of bikers, surfers or skaters.
Elegant lines and striping, sometimes slightly reminiscent of Oriental inspiration, black and white or full-blown colors based in retro 70’s style, all of this applied to a large variety of surfaces with gentle strokes of her fine brushes.
Asked about her biggest dream if money weren’t a problem, Lisa does not have to think for a second before responding: “Building Dutch on Wheels into a real brand is one thing, but creating a sustainable art project in conjunction with a good cause is my biggest wish. Fantasising wildly without any limitations?”, she repeats the question, “How about a motorcycle created from recycled plastic? How cool would that be?” she enthuses.
Becoming a brand
With her work taking shape as a brand, Lisa has been invited to an increasing number of national and international events over the past years.
2017 was a major step forward in her career. Her international visibility was awarded a formidable boost when Dutch on Wheels was offered the opportunity to display her art at the spring fair at the ‘Bike Shed’ in London. A bonanza of new international connections was a logical result of her presence at the heart of this event.
Her creativity is not limited to her art. Smartly communicating via all arteries in the digital world, Lisa continuously generates new fans from all over the planet. In spite of the easy way of reaching a large audience electronically, for her, nothing beats the depth of personal contact. Whenever there is an event she likes, Lisa will be present if she can fit it into her busy schedule.
“Have you ever been offered a totally left of the center project to work on?” I asked when interviewing Lisa. ‘Funny that you mention this”, she replies. “This summer I was asked to paint a training ship in Marken [the Netherlands]. Even if not being something on wheels I am very tempted to go for it. The fact of it mooring in ports all over the world is as alluring as the call of the Siren to me.”
As far as riding a bike of her own is concerned, Lisa has a weak spot for a classic bike ever since she saw a friend of hers riding a 1972 Triumph Tiger. This bike just positioned itself deep in her brain where the bucket list resides. Still, every time she is rumbled by the distinctive roar of a Harley Davidson, goose bumps appear like magic. The real thrill of riding a bike is not just to hear it but to also feel it revving up all your senses. A Harley does just that.
In spite of their reliability and technical innovativeness, Japanese breeds fail to excite this artist. Italian design and coolness may still make her switch from classic British or American heritage. Time will tell.
Before hitting the road on her own, Lisa will first have to pass the tests for her license. But when she does, the world will see a laid back rider, longing to explore the maze of South African roads with her kids and family as faithful companions.
In the meantime, the focus will be in on growing her network of clients and her skills as an artist. We will follow the trails of ‘Dutch on Wheels’ with interest while she showers us with her wonderful talent.