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Article By: Amelia “Killer” Rose
Originally Published In The June 2018 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine
We’ve been lucky, these last few months, to interview artists that were born with a love for art deep in their veins, and Kayla Koeune is no different. Growing up in small-town Wisconsin, she was drawn to art at a very young age. Like most other kids there, she spent her time hanging out in taverns, though instead of reading books or playing video games, she always wanted to draw and paint the world around her. So, while there, she would spend her time trying to draw the bar flies that hung around, all from the comfort of a fort she made out of stools. As she grew older, her love for art grew as well, and she decided to pursue a BA in Fine Arts at the Milwaukee Peck School Of The Arts. What inspired her then was the challenge of the naked human form and trying to capture the real and raw emotions of everyday life. Following graduation, Kayla did what apparently most kids with art degrees did and joined… the Wisconsin Army National Guard. Right after the completion of her training, she deployed to Baghdad, Iraq, where connections and friends were made that would soon change her life. It was there that she was informally introduced to the loud, dirty, fantastic world of motorcycles and the diverse people that ride them.
Now, her formal introduction was a bit different. Life had turned a corner, and she was introduced to some wonderful people. She met Mario Sanchez, Ben Marx, Dave Cook and Milwaukee Mike while working as a general manager for a restaurant that, coincidentally, Mike had made the sign for, and happened to be around the corner from the shop Ben worked at. The guys were regulars, so it didn’t take Kayla long to get to know them. After that, she began hanging around with them outside of work, which is where the motorcycles came in. Milwaukee Mike took her on her first motorcycle ride, and Mario helped her pick up her first bike, a sweet little Honda Rebel. Soon they started suggesting that she do some paintings of motorcycles, showing her tons of pictures of various bike art and asking her if she could do it. At the time, she was a city artist that showed portraits and nudes but meeting them and learning more about motorcycles changed her whole career.
In February of 2012, Kayla painted one of her first motorcycle pieces, and by June she was showcasing them. That same year was when her current business, Inferno Art Studios, was founded, and since becoming involved in the crazy culture that is moto-art, Kayla has been lucky enough to travel crosscountry, and connect with some of the biggest names in industry art; Michael Lichter, Richie Pan, and David Uhl to name a few. A favorite experience of hers was years ago when she, Chris, and Richie Pan all painted on one canvas together. Despite the fact that their brushes only briefly touched the canvas, it was the sense of a community of artists working together that was truly awe-inspiring. To create the beautiful pieces you see in this article, Kayla has a few favorite mediums she likes to use. Ink, because line is the most expressive detail in some of her work and the ability to change thickness and shape gives it a certain elegance. On the other hand, she also favors, like most artists, including my dad, oil paints. It dries slowly and allows for multiple layers that give physical and implied texture to the piece. Alongside her favorite mediums, she also uses the “unforgiving,” watercolor and enamel. These mediums are harder to work with because once you lay them down, they won’t move, which tests the artist’s ability to think ahead and plan out their approach. Lastly, Kayla works in acrylics, because they can do things others can’t, while also being limited in comparison to oil and ink.
“I guess I work in all mediums because I like the challenge of learning new skills of making art and really enjoy working in them all. Each medium provides a different platform of expression, so I try not to strictly confine myself to one… but it sure is a lot more work learning how to do them all well.” Drawing from the things that inspire her (outdoors, travel and adventure) Kayla is currently working on the first of a collection of works, a book called “100 Colorado Landscapes”. Following that will be almost 1,000 paintings on the road that will be released in increments over the coming years. The future goals are to start publishing more of her incredible work and to hopefully, someday soon, host small group art classes at her studio in Longmont, CO.
“I’m really enjoying where my art is going. I have a lot of shows booked for the next year, and I have learned from show to show what works and what doesn’t and how to continue to improve. I have gotten to travel all over showing work, and I believe if you dream big and work hard things will happen the way you want them to.” If you guys want to check out more of her work, and you really should, you can find her on Instagram (KaylaInfernoArt), or head on over to her website (InfernoArtStudio.com ) to see more of her amazing artwork. Thanks for reading. Til’ Next Time… Amelia Rose