Inspiration: Interview

Dutch on Wheels

Lisa Ottevanger's stunning helmet art

To Lisa Ottevanger, a Dutch woman living in Amsterdam and born to parents from the Spice Islands of Indonesia, identity is everything.

From Bike Shed to Wheel and Waves

In the four years since friends urged the graphic designer to branch out into motorcycle art, she’s finessed a unique style that draws on the skill of the classic pinstripers, as well as the freehand colours of her Far East roots.

Her stand-out Dutch on Wheels helmet and tank designs draw crowds at the major motorcycle events. She’s showcased helmet art at London’s Bike Shed, creating a mural that set tongues wagging at Wheels and Waves and has a string of commissions from riding groups and custom houses to her growing name.

 

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Bike tanks, surf and skateboards. Anything goes for the free spirit artist who lists freedom, identity, uniqueness ­and an open mind to colour and form as the start points for every commission.

East meets West

Her style reflects a love of the cultures of her parents’ native Java and Sulawese, where Japanese, Chinese, Malay and Indian influences merge to form a melting pot of aromas, colours and, in Lisa’s case, designs.

The elegant lines and flourishes of the Orient – subtly evident in her bestselling helmet of last year, The Sleeping Dragon (below) – combine with vibrant European blues and bronzes to make her work instantly recognisable.

Tiger initiation

Her first ride, a ’72 Triumph Tiger, was the catalyst for the gear change into motorcycle art, a departure from her day job creating ground-breaking design concepts for fashion and design firms around Europe.

Lisa’s formative years were spent in the heart and shed of a motorcycle-mad family in the Netherlands, with her father always encouraging her to follow suit and the sweeping lines of Triumph’s modern classics never far from her thoughts.

“I was always around bikes as a teenager, so I guess I was always watching and looking at designs that might complement the Tiger or the timeless silhouette of the Bonneville without even realising it,” she says.

“Because of my passion for graphic design, I’d always been interested in the heritage of the original motorcycle pinstripers at firms like Triumph, so when I was introduced to a Belgian pinstriper a few years ago, I learned a lot from him. So much so he eventually became my boyfriend.”

After tentatively pitching up at shows with some of her “traditional but different” pot helmet designs, she admits her life has been a roller coaster: “I’ve adapted the ‘old school’ pinstriper’s art to come up with my own style, so the techniques are similar but the end product is the result of the influences in my life. People seem to like the contrast.”

Riding inspiration

The Dutch on Wheels brand was born in 2015 when a friend asked her to transform his bike and helmet. The elegant lines of her fine brush technique quickly drew admiring glances from the Dutch and then wider custom community.

Her work is in a freeflow style and very much “in the moment”, she insists: “It’s like the best ride-out on your Triumph. That moment when you and the bike are one entity is what inspires me when I paint. I take a commission and find out about the rider, but I don’t think about what it should look like beforehand. I sit and it just comes.

“I love the combination and variation that I get from mixing my creative graphic design work with my more artistic motorcycle work. At the moment, it’s about 50-50, but as the brand evolves it will be harder to keep the dragons on the helmets at bay.”