Meet Christopher Galley owner of Devil Chicken Design out of Buffalo NY. Chris is designing a Lowbrow Customs peanut tank for the Babes Ride Out East Coast 2 Raffle. Get to know his style, learn more about his process, and his show, Voodoo & Burnt Rubber.
I’m an artist. I make large scale “paintings” that combine a variety of media and techniques. I’ve been making art my whole life. My family moved around a lot when I was a kid and I was an only child. Art was my way to keep busy when I didn’t know any kids in the new town we moved to. It was always something that stuck with me. When it came time to pick a major in college, it had to be art. That led me to become a high school art teacher. I’ve been doing that for the last 21 years. I picked that job because I thought I would have all this time to make my own art. I never anticipated how mentally drained you would be after a day of working with kids. It took me a long time to get back to really focusing on putting out work. It was actually some advice from a student who kicked me in the ass. I was working with a senior student after school one day and she asked me about the art I work on at home. I told her that I wasn’t really focusing on it at the time. I was going to wait until I retired and then really make a push to get some work out there. I showed her a couple pictures of the most recent stuff I had thrown together. To be honest, it was pretty lame and academic; still life, portraits and maybe a landscape. A few months went by and that same girl gave me a thank you note for all of the extra help I gave her over her four years in my class. The last line of the note said that I shouldn’t wait any more to start focusing on my own work, that what I was doing was good. It really resonated with me. At that point I threw myself into making some new work. I decided that I was only going to make pictures of what I thought was cool and use all of the techniques that I was good at or interested in. It was time to try something new. That’s how the first Evel Knievel paintings happened. It was a complete experiment. A few more Evel paintings and some Steve McQueen compositions developed and I booked my first show at a local music festival. People really seemed to dig the work. Shortly after that I was offered my first solo gallery show. After that I started traveling around the East Coast hitting motorcycle and art shows. It’s been cool over the last 5 years to see how much the motorcycle culture has developed. At those first shows, art was few and far between. There were a few other artists, mostly photographers, who were doing the same thing I was. They were putting their stuff out there and seeing what would happen. One of the coolest things is to see where these people have taken their art. Seeing what artists like Mikey Revolt, Jay Cagney and Debbie Fitch have done keeps me motivated.
You painted a Biltwell helmet for Babes Ride Out East Coast last year, what are you working on for BRO East Coast II?
I’m putting together a Lowbrow Customs gas tank for BRO EC this year. It’s a Sporty peanut tank, pretty much the quintessential chopper tank. I wanted to come up with something that would fit the vibe of what BRO and motorcycling in general is about. For me, it’s always been about a place for outsiders and adventurers to connect. To me, the ultimate female adventurer is Amelia Earhart. I’m building my composition around her quote “Adventure is worthwhile in itself”. It’s going to have a bunch of maps and vintage aviation imagery. It’s also going to have a skull in it. If you’ve seen my work before, you already knew that.
We love to support other events on the East Coast. Can you tell us about your show, Voodoo & Burnt Rubber?
This July 8th will be our fifth VBR show. It has really evolved over the last few years. The show started as a garage party where I threw some paintings up on the wall. We drew a couple hundred people to that first show thanks to some masterful marketing by my wife Jo. The next year we added raffles and a few more artists. The bike show was all out in the parking lot. As the crowds grew over the next couple of years we outgrew our garage space. Last year we moved the show to Downtown Buffalo and added more artists, invited bike builders and we raffled off a custom chopper. All of the proceeds we’ve raised over the years has gone directly to local charities. This year we’ve moved to an even bigger space so we’re adding more builders and artists. The cool thing is the reception we’ve gotten to our initial invites. We have people bringing their work from all over the country. We’re also working on shutting the street down outside of the venue so we can go for a real “block party” feel. We’re kicking off the weekend with a pre-party at Spoke and Dagger Company. We’ll have raffles and giveaways throughout the night. It’s going to be a great time. If you’re still on the fence, it’s also “Taste of Buffalo” weekend. It’s a huge food festival a few blocks from the show. You can check out Buffalo, win some stuff at the pre-party, hang out and check out the amazing builds and art at the show and eat some great food. What more could you ask for?
You traveled a lot this year to different motorcycle events. Can you tell us one of your favorite memories?
Oh man, that’s a tough one. I don’t think I can narrow it down a single favorite memory. For me it’s always about the experience and the people you meet. The coolest part is the close friendships I’ve made while traveling. It’s funny how you can instantly bond with someone at a bike show, especially when you’re set up next to each other over the course of a weekend, and cooler beers never hurt!
Do you find that there’s a connection between creativity and riding motorcycles?
I never thought about that before this question, but now that you mention it, I think there is. It kind of goes back to my previous answer, it’s easy to bond with people over similar interests. Motorcycling seems to draw a certain type of person, especially the chopper scene. Pretty much any time people gather around a bike you’re going to hear about what they fabricated, painted or screwed up on trying to put it all together. It’s kind of like that Picasso quote “Good artists copy, great artists steal”. The builder and art community has a lot in common. Everyone pushes each other to go bigger and come up something new. It’s also very communal. I’ve never met a builder or artist who wasn’t willing to help you out. That’s really why we started VBR. It’s a chance to put everyone in one spot to share what they are working on.
Your wife, Joanne, will be attending BRO East Coast for the second time. If you had one message for her that weekend, what would it be?
No dudes again this year, right? Ok, cool. Have fun! Oh yeah, bring some extra fuel line and see if you can score some more beer and another serape before you come home.
Learn more about Voodoo & Burnt Rubber by clicking HERE