Amanda is the kind of girl perfect for this blog, a free spitit, nature and adventure lover, motorcycles enthusiast and artist! An interesting personality that she expresses through various forms of art: illustrations, customized helmets, tattoos and many adventures on two wheels!
Enjoy my interview to this super lady rider!
Amanda, where are you based?
I live in Portland, Oregon, but every three months or so I go back to my family’s ranch in Corvallis, Montana.
When you started with illustration?
I’ve always loved Illustration, so I started drawing very young. Drawing is something that I feel like I’m compelled to do, even if it’s just quick portraits or doodles. I moved to Portland in 2010 to go to the Pacific Northwest College of Art. I majored in Illustration and graduated in 2014 with a Bachelor in Fine Arts.
To me drawing something just right is so satisfying, it’s like getting high. It’s my drug.
What’s your first memory connected to motorcycles?
It’s kind of embarrassing, but the first time that motorcycles really caught my attention was when I watched Grease 2 for the first time around 2004. It wasn’t until 2011 that I started seriously thinking about motorcycles. I wanted something to fill the void in my life, since I had to leave my horses in Montana. Motorcycles just seemed like the natural next step.
When you started drawing about motolife?
I started drawing motorcycles after I bought my first bike in 2012. I couldn’t bring it back to Portland with me for a few months. So, I would draw me riding it to try and get the longing out of my system. I started drawing more general motorcycle themed things a little after Dream Roll last year. It was so inspiring to be around so many women who also rode motorcycles. I knew about Babes Ride Out and Motolady, but being there in person surrounded by those women was incredible.
What about the other sources of inspiration for your art?
A lot of my work is a reflection of my homesickness for Montana and ranch life, but my other passion is discovering different cultural myths that include powerful women or are vague enough that I can alter the visual representation to be about empowering women.
“Blind Thistle” is your artistic project, all your emotions and experiences put on paper , isn’t it?
Blind Thistle started as my username/penname online and has really become the umbrella that all of my Illustrative life lives under. It’s a reflection of my fears, my homesickness and dreams to make work that reflects me and hopefully make work that other people can relate to.
On paper and on skin…please talk me about Amanda tattoo artist.
After about two years in Art School I really started to question whether I was cut out for commercial Illustration. Around the same time, my grandmother who raised me passed away. I went to Dark Star Tattoo to get a memorial tattoo. Sumer was amazing and listened to me lament about my dilemma with what I wanted to do with my future and I made a comment about thinking about doing tattoo but I didn’t know where to even start. She had already seen some of my work, and was just like’ you should just come be my apprentice!’
Tattoo has been one of the most challenging things I’ve ever had to learn. The more I do it the more I love it. People really care and are invested in the work that goes on their body. Their enthusiasm really drives me and keeps me going. I’ve been working at Dark Star Tattoo, in Vancouver, WA for three years now, I’ve been tattooing for a year and a half, and my apprenticeship officially ends in May. I’m really excited about where the future is going to take me in this industry.
Your blog, “As the Magpie Flies” describes your adventures on two wheels so what do you ride?
I started my motorcycle blog after I bought my first bike in 2012. It’s was originally called “The Adventures of Blind Thistle and Lazarus.” My first bike was a 1980 Suzuki GS850gl which I bought for $600 in the dead of Winter in Montana. I named her Lazarus, because the original owner had been a preacher, and because no matter how much stuff is done to her or how long she sits she always comes back to life for me.
My second bike was given to me by my father in 2014 as a graduation present. I think he traded a four wheeler for it. It’s a 2005 Honda Shadow 750 Spirit and it is so much different than Lazarus. I named it Hephaestus for the obvious metal/smithing connection but also because my father dumped it trying to unload it resulting in a good size dent in the tank. That’s when I changed the name of the blog to “As the Magpie Flies” since it wasn’t just Lazarus and I anymore.
I now own three motorcycles, I just added a 1972 Honda CB175 which is more project than bike at the moment, but I’m excited to see where it goes.
What about the 1,800 mi round trip you made in April 2015?
I think the best description of that trip is COLD. It was always between 38*F and when I was lucky around 43*F. I rode through White Pass and it snowed on me, it was so cold by the time I got to Moses Lake that I had to get a hotel room -which I never do- just so I could take a shower for two hours to get the feeling in my hands and toes again. It was a good time though, the amount of people who stopped to talk to me to call me crazy for riding in that weather was great
The best thing was driving up a gravel road for 18 miles into the middle of nowhere, to get to a ghost town that I thought was empty. Elkhorn is 18 miles from Boulder, MT and even though it’s classified as a Ghost Town it still boasts residents. I had the startling experience of pulling up to the two of the preserved buildings still standing, but when I tried to put the kickstand down the dirt was too soft and it started to sink. I managed to get the bike back upright, and was looking around for a rock when these two dogs came out of nowhere. They had the added eery factor that one of them only had three legs and the other just stared at me. Then this man just appeared and asked me if I needed a rock for my kickstand. I thought he was a ghost! He put the rock right under my kickstand and talked to me for a second while I pulled my helmet off. I turned around to put my helmet on my handlebars and when I turned around he and his dogs were gone. Logically I know he wasn’t a ghost, but I can’t help feel kind of weird about the whole thing. Good Weird. But still weird.
I went home for a few days to help with the new calves my dad bought, and then headed back to Portland. I was lucky enough to stay fairly dry apart from the snow for most of the trip, but it down poured on me the last 50 miles to Portland. Sometimes I think that’s Portland’s way of saying ‘haha sucker welcome back!’
Your next adventure will be the “Pilgrimage” , talk me about it!
The Pilgrimage is my present to myself for graduating college and finishing my apprenticeship. It’s for myself, to reflect on everything and reground myself to get ready for the next part of my life -whatever that is.
It keeps growing, but the last time I added up the miles the trip is a 3,700 mi loop around Montana. I set up a few rules for myself to challenge myself a little. No GPS, No Hotels, No Freeways, No Chain Restaurants, and I have the goal to make a drawing a day. A little ambitious for a six week trip, but I feel like after doing more than 8,000 mi going back and forth from Portland to Montana on the bike I’m as ready as I can be at this point for a bigger trip. My goal is to get Lazarus working good enough to take. The GS850 is so much more natural for me to ride, and it handles dirt and gravel so much better than Hephaestus.
I kick off my trip the second week of June in Missoula, then head north from there. I’m pretty excited about it. I feel like I have moments where I’m still a little scared of the shear mileage I’ll be doing, but for the most part I’m giddy, and I just want it to be here already.
Riding alone…what it means for you?
I started riding alone because I didn’t really know anyone else who would ride with me. I love riding alone because I don’t have to adhere to anyone else’s schedule. I can stop on the side of the road suddenly just to take a picture, or to take a nap without having to signal to anyone else or explain myself. Alternatively I can bust out 110 miles without stopping or worrying about stopping for anyone else. The only time it ever feel lonely is when I go into a restaurant by myself.
Riding alone is just so freeing, and I feel like you get to interact with people more because you’re more approachable as an individual than in a group.
And you ride also with other rad gals… “The Rocky Mountain Roll” is the right event to celebrate women riders, right?
I just recently found the Torque Wenches, well, Courtney (our leader) found me. They’re a group of women who ride based out of Portland that formed as a result of the Dream Roll. I’ve made so many more friends that ride as a result it’s crazy. So, I really wanted to have a little campout/party at the end of my Pilgrimage to celebrate Women Who Ride and encourage women to push the limits of what they believe they’re capable of. Whether that’s riding on dirt for the first time with their street bike, or just making the trip to Montana.
I decided to have it on my family’s ranch, because I wanted to share the beautiful Bitterroot Valley with people who may not have made the trip to Montana otherwise. Everyone is welcome, even if you don’t ride. It’s July 29-31, 2016 on the 3-3 Ranch about 8 miles outside of Corvallis and Hamilton, MT. The exact address is included when you get your ticket. Ticket Sales end May 15th so I can finish making the arrangements before I leave for the Pilgrimage.
There will be free soda, group rides lead by locals on Saturday (one on dirt roads and one on pavement) and I’ve got some awesome stuff from Enginethusiast, the Torque Wenches, and some crochet stuff donated by my talented mother for the raffle.
A MOTORCYCLE IS…
A motorcycle is the only partner you need for adventure.
Where can we follow Amanda artist, Amanda rider, Amanda tattooer or simply Amanda Zito?
You can follow my Art:
@blindthistle on Tumblr
@blindthistle on Twitter
You can follow my Motorcycle Adventures:
@asthemagpieflys on Twitter
@asthemagpieflies on Tumblr
For all of the Above:
Rocky MTN Roll: