For today’s Reportage, we’re shining a light on Brooklyn Bell, a multi-sport athlete and artist living in Bellingham, Washington. Brooklyn launched a collaboration with Ground Keeper Custom earlier this year, with an entire capsule collection available on their website. We were really moved by Brooklyn’s artwork, so we connected for a quick interview. See the Ground Keeper Badgal Brooky collection on their website and read our interview with Brooklyn below…
Managing time is so hard when you’re a creative, a freelancer, and an athlete, how do you divvy up your free time and what’s one thing you always seem to procrastinate on?
I try not to take on more than I can handle and I also have people in my life who help me when I need it. Super slick dialed projects often come together with the help of good people. I’ve been procrastinating on learning how to manage money. This year has been really successful for me. I love working and finding creative ways to make a living but figuring out how to manage money is something I haven’t figured out yet.
What’s it like to experience the mountain on two different vehicles? Does skiing influence your riding and vice versa?
They definitely influence each other! I find that I am super-expressive during ski season and that creativity flows into the riding season. By having breaks I think I learn how to play rather than be too hard on myself. I find what I enjoy about one sport that helps me find my path in the other.
It’s one thing to be a multi-sport shredder but you’re also an artist. Your artwork is beautiful. I love how your topographies feel so dreamy and feel so fluid. Are they based on specific mountains or moments? Or do you create these vistas? … and where do you pull color inspiration from?
Most of my artwork is based on fiction. As I’ve traveled to different places I’ve gained almost a landscape vocabulary for my art. I pull a lot of color inspiration from other artists. If I see artwork or a photo I like on instagram, I’ll screen shot it, save it in a folder called “colors” and see how I can incorporate it in my work. Sometimes it works and other times it doesn’t. I love how color can completely transform a piece of art into something that the viewer connects with.
2020 was a rough year on various fronts, yet there has been an awakening of sorts in the outdoor industries. How does it feel being a BIPOC athlete and artist to see this transformation? Do you feel like this awareness will continue its current trajectory?
I think this year has been successful for me. It’s been bitter sweet in the midst of a pandemic and uprising. I know plenty of other POC creators who feel similarly. The dissonance is strange. I think we’ve made some progress but I think the path to progress isn’t linear. I am excited to see more representation but what I’ve really been excited about, is finally having support/better understanding from friends. I think people even though they can’t quite empathize with my experience, they now know what I go through. More allies, means that I have better friends and I really need that.
I don’t think we see real change till black and brown people have better health (mental/physical), have lower incarceration rates, have generational wealth, are able to choose any life path and don’t feel anxiety, just existing.
Living in a small mountain town means you get to see a lot of familiar people on the trails. Here in Santa Fe, we have quite a number of kooky locals who just seem to move to their own drumbeat. Is there a particular character in town you enjoy seeing outdoors, doing their thing?
Forest Montgomery stands out to me! Always stoked, really stylish and so talented on bikes.
Speaking of locals, how did you connect with Keely Shannon from Ground Keeper Fenders?
Keely and I connected a couple years back. Our first collaboration “shroom bloom” was a bright blue fender.
You created a beautiful kit with Keely, how do you adapt your work to the various products in this collaboration? Did Keely give you feedback or was it all your scheming?
This project wasn’t the first time I’ve put artwork on bikes. For the last 2 seasons, I’ve created custom graphics for my individual bikes. I had a good idea of what would work for bike decals and Keely helped bring those ideas to a broader audience. What I thought I wanted on my bike wasn’t necessarily what others would want. Keely steered me in the right direction and gave critique for the finer details that definitely made this artwork better than what I would have produced on my own. I am so lucky to not create in a bubble!
For those who might be visiting Bellingham in the near future, where is your favorite place to get a post-ride or post-ski meal or beverage? and what bike shop do you go to?
So many places to eat good food and service bikes in Bham. Right now I have been loving Stemma Brewery, Anmly Cafe and Alley Cat Bike Shop.
What’s something you’ll never go on a ride without?
Anything big and exciting planned for this year?
I am planning on helping dig for Formation coming up this May.
And last but not least, what’s your favorite podcast/album/book/ we can check out?
Podcast: Every Little Thing
Album: Spilligion – Spillage Village
Book: Braiding Sweet Grass
Thanks so much, Brooklyn! I hope to see you on the trails.