Meet Kelly Bechtold owner and designer of Girl on a Motorcycle. The lovechild of glamour and grit, Girl on a Motorcycle is a California conceived, Colorado born luxe leather accessories label. Founded in 2007 by Bechtold, the brand has become known for unique handmade “must have” allure. The inspired design & painstaking construction of pieces utilizes the highest quality leather hides, and distinctive riveted hardware. Girl on a Motorcycle style is a blend of 1960’s innocence and 1970’s Rock n’ Roll decadence. Incorporating timeless style with strength and durability, this line has a lasting quality almost unrecognizable in today’s disposable culture. Bechtold believes in things that last. My bags and accessories are timelessly designed, made by hand and build to endure. No machines, no factories-just Bechtold, a workbench, some hand tools and a good record playing on the turntable. Her materials are sourced of the finest produces American deer, buffalo and cattle hides and feature high quality fixtures and adornments.
Bechtold is one of over 35 artists showing at the annual Artisans Festival, Friday & Saturday, November 28 & 29 at the Miners Foundry Cultural Center. This holiday tradition is one of the longest running festivals in Nevada County and is known for showcasing the exceptional work of regional artisans. This year’s festival takes the term “Art Party” to another level with dozens of new artists, installation art displays, performance art, live music, children’s holiday art activities, and a rustic, bohemian Acoustic Café and Wine Bar. Tickets $3, $5 Weekend Pass, Children 15 and under free. Daily hours are 10am-5pm.
What was the art background of your childhood?
I was raised off the grid in a Colorado mountain canyon by a hippie mom who encouraged me to see the design in everything. She valued taking time for dreaming and hearing the call of my creative soul. She left me with an appreciation of nature’s design and repetitive patterns.
When did you recognize a special talent or interest in art? Was it a moment or a process? Can you remember a specific setting?
In my early 20s I worked in a vintage clothing store and was obsessed with making our displays beautiful. After that, I worked as a wardrobe stylist and found I had a knack for set design. I am obsessed with the special arrangement of beauty.
I was surrounded by people who were “fine artists” and didn’t see myself in their league so I kept it quiet. Also, I just never found the fashion industry inspiring or interesting. It had too many rules.
Then, 7 years ago I started making leather bags and found a love for taking a big hide and having the muse bring out the beauty in it. I was only mediocre at first, but persevered until one day I made something “cool!” I felt connected to the divine inspiration and started creating a collection. My family and friends liked them and gave me a lot of encouragement. Now, I consider myself a designer and I love my bags. Each has a personality and is looking for just the right owner.
What did your parents say when you told them you were going to be an artist? Was it a moment or a process? Can you remember the specific setting?
My mom always kind of knew I was going to do something artistic and so she wasn’t surprised. She raised me to be independent and a little bit different. Now, she is over the moon proud and couldn’t be happier that my work arises in me from a deep place and is nature based.
Who or what were your early creative inspirations?
My supportive family and teachers I’ve had along the way. And, NATURE absolutely.
Which artists are you following currently?
My musician friends bring life and joy. Rhiannon the bead maker. Her design and color choices bring out the goddess in women who wear her jewelry.
I share fascination with woodworkers who see form in raw materials.
Louise Nedelson. Georgia O’Keefe. Rustic artisans. Those who see what can come from the inside and shine through from its life force. Paco Rabin. “I traded my needle and thread for pliers and a blow torch.”
What, besides the obvious, do you like about selling your art?
I like that I’ve gone from making purses to really creating art forms. I like the direct human interaction and the joy that I see when someone gets something fine for themselves. I like making bags that are “different, unique and get better with time” just like women. I like that my artform gives comfort and beauty that can leave the house with you.
What do you think is the role of art in a society?
To inspire the dreamer in each person and show that there are languages each of us speak and all of them matter. Art allows us to hear the voice of love and that the universe give to us all. Artisans put that love into form and give it away to everyone. Art connects us to other dimensions of the human experience.
What have been the biggest sacrifices you’ve made for your art?
Stability and peace of mind about the future. Being willing to live the roller coaster of success. Wear and tear on my body.
Anything particularly interesting or striking about your story that you’d like to share?
I am self-taught. Everything that comes out of me comes from somewhere unique to me. I’ve never taken classes; no one has taken time to teach me. My art comes out of my experiences and my inner vision.