#036 – The story of Stoke and Bear; an interview with Jet Bailey

Recently, Creative Collective had the fortunate opportunity to have a discussion with the founder of Stoke and Bear Art, Jet Bailey. With a BA (Hons) in Fine Art, coupled with a ‘huge passion for painting and love of all things motorcycle…’, Jet Bailey brings remarkable retro and biker lifestyle art to many adoring customers worldwide.

I am especially interested in learning about the unique stories and faces of motorcycle builders, owners and riders around the world. My current body of work celebrates the determined and focused community of women in the motorcycle industry, as well as embracing the freedom and movement of machines. My work focuses on women reclaiming their space in the motorcycle culture, by creating large scale paintings that dominate interior spaces and envelop the viewer.

– Jet Bailey, Stoke and Bear Art

Here’s what we learned when we caught up with Jet:

CC: What is it that attracts you to motorcycling and riding as a medium and canvas for your art?

JB: Motorcycles are a big part of my life, my father was a biker, and I first began riding pillion a number of years ago. I immediately wanted my own bike, which my partner and I were eventually able to custom build. I think the feeling of freedom is so important when you are riding, and something about being able to experience the open air, nature and movement, which makes it so much fun. I have been practicing art for quite a long time and I really wanted to combine my passion for painting and motorcycles. As I found out more about the biking community, I realized that these two things actually go hand in hand. Motorcycle builders are using so much creativity and imagination in their builds, and I became interested in learning their stories. My current body of work aims to celebrate the determined and focused community of women in the motorcycle industry, as well as combining the freedom and movement of the machines, through the use of realism alongside abstract expression.

CC: How important is it to plan when you create your art? Do you ever just ‘go with the flow’?

JB: I think it is really important to go with the flow, as I find that some of my best work happens when I relax about it and just do what feels right at the time! Often I will work on an image that I really love, and feel excited about creating. I can’t always plan exactly what image that is going to be, but I would say that for me it has been important to stay focused on the direction that I want to go with my work, and to plan the body of work I want to create, as well as how I am going to create it.

CC: What would you say is the most challenging aspect about your artistic and creative process?

JB: I find that the most challenging part of the creative process is trusting your own abilities and creativity. There are times when I find it hard to have total confidence in my own skills and can compare myself to others, and I am always looking to improve and learn new techniques. It is difficult sometimes to continuously put work out there and have faith in your own instincts! But I do feel that it is important to try and believe in your own abilities and celebrate the unique power of your individual creativity.

CC: What keeps you motivated in continuing to create your distinct artwork?

JB: The wonderful community of people that I have met along my journey, both as a rider and an artist, consistently help keep me motivated! I have always loved art in general, so this helps me to continue doing what I love.

CC: Is it more difficult to create your pieces on objects such as skateboards or motorcycle tanks? How come?

JB: I definitely find it more difficult to create pieces on helmets and tanks, as the surface is spherical, so you have to be careful that proportions don’t get too distorted at different angles, particularly if you’re doing portraits! I also use a completely different paint to my paintings on panels or canvas, so I find this more tricky to use, as it blends in a completely different way.

CC: If you ever receive criticism for your work, how do you respond?

JB: It’s important to be able to try to learn from criticism in order to potentially improve or learn new skills. I also understand that not everyone will like it, and that everyone has their own unique taste in art and I think that makes the world more interesting. I think it is important to create work that evokes emotion so sometimes criticism can be a positive thing too!

CC: Does it ever get stressful in your studio? How do you prevent this or try to relax?

JB: I sometimes come back to a piece and step away from the studio if something isn’t working. I often go for a walk with my dog or have a cup of tea! Sometimes I will work on a few things at once, so I can go onto something else if one painting isn’t working at that time.

CC: What helps you stay focused when creating your beautiful pieces? Any pre-art rituals or music involved?

JB: I always listen to music, or the radio, which helps me keep relaxed and concentrate better. I usually put on a specific radio show that I enjoy and listen to that!

CC: Are there any artists or inspirations that drive you to continue doing what you do?

JB: I particularly love the work of Jenny Saville and how she uses paint and figures, she has always been a huge inspiration for me. I really love how she envelops the viewer with her large scale paintings, and combines realistic imagery with abstract mark making. There are also lots of artists and motorcycle artists that I follow online through social media, and that keeps me motivated to continue and keep connected!

CC: How did Stoke and Bear originate? Great name, what’s the story behind it?

JB: My partner builds bikes and I paint art based on the motorcycle community, so we wanted a name that could combine the two. To be honest, I cant really remember how we came up with it, but the ‘Stoke’ part was based on ‘fueling’ something, making something go, and we have a dog that is huge like a bear!

CC: What do you think your biggest successes have been?

JB: Every time someone commissions something, or buys a piece of my artwork, I count as a huge success! I am always so grateful to people that invest in my work and that love it enough to have something of their own. I have also been honoured to be invited to show my work at several places around the world, and that to me is a huge success too.

CC: Have there ever been times when you’ve wanted to give up?

JB: There have definitely has been times where I have wondered if i’m ‘doing the right thing’ or whether I can do it successfully or as a career. I am fortunate to have people around me that support and encourage me, and this has really helped me to persevere and have faith in my work.

CC: Do you feel art is taken seriously enough in the modern day and in this country’s school curriculum?

JB: That’s a difficult one! I have experienced art being taken seriously and also not, so I think it really depends on where you go and what people have experienced. I do hear many people tell me that they were told they were ‘no good’ at art in school, and I actually believe that everyone has a creative side to them that can develop and grow with encouragement or support! I think that art can be very powerful and beneficial both mentally and physically, and that art is a very valuable tool in self expression, so it would be great if it was encouraged more.

CC: How does it feel to have your work exhibited and on display?

JB: I always feel very fortunate to be able to display my work, although it can be a bit daunting to put yourself out there! I have had really positive feedback from the shows and exhibitions I have been part of, so this has really helped me feel more confident in displaying work and doing live painting.

CC: Where do you aspire to take Stoke and Bear? Where do you envisage yourself to be in say, ten years’ time?

JB: I hope that I will continue to develop as an artist and that I will continue to exhibit more work in galleries, as well as develop and improve my skills and techniques. I really hope to be able to create more pieces that inspire and stir emotion in people, and for my work to bring joy and colour into people’s lives!

CC: Finally, do you have any specific advise or words of encouragement for budding and practising artists out there?

JB: I think that it’s important to go at a pace that feels right for you, and that it is ok to have some down time! I think one of the most important things is to have confidence in your own abilities and to have a good network of people around you, who encourage you to persevere!

Jet Bailey is an artist avidly specialising in figurative painting and motorcycle art. She is the founder of Stoke and Bear, regularly accepting commissions and exhibiting her distinct motorcycle art.
Browse her work, learn more or get in contact below:

stokeandbear.com/ stokeandbear Stoke and Bear Art Shop