Harley-Davidson Artist David Uhl Reveals All in Inked Interview
Harley-Davidson’s first licensed oil painter talks about his inspiration, love of history, and why he doesn’t have any tattoos.
Regulars here at Harley-Davidson Forums undoubtedly know the name David Uhl. Uhl, MoCo’s very first licensed oil painter, is a prominent figure who’s helped spread the word of H-D through his amazing artwork over the years. We’ve shined a light on his incredible oil paintings before, as well as his selfless efforts raising money for ALS research. And now, Inked Magazine got the chance to sit down with Uhl to get to the roots of his life-long Harley-Davidson obsession.
Uhl purchased his first Harley-Davidson 30 years ago, and it clearly left a lasting impact on him. He credits the “feeling of acceleration” and “riding culture” for igniting his artistic inspiration at the time. At first, however, Uhl was just designing T-shirts. But it was those shirt designs that eventually landed him a deal with a large manufacturer. A full 500 designs later, however, he became bored.
It was then that he decided to give oil painting a shot. “My first painting depicted an old black-and-white snapshot from the early ‘40s,” Uhl told Inked. “I created a large oil of this image and flew to Milwaukee to show it to the licensing dept. They said it was epic and granted me a license to continue. Getting their blessing also included access to their extensive photo archives. So I was off to the races. Feeling ecstatic, I was officially the archival oil painter of the rich history of one of the most recognized brands on the planet.”
To date, much of Uhl’s work depicts historic scenes. He admits that he’s a bit of a historian. And he’s fascinated by Harley-Davidson’s influence on the relationship between Americans and the internal combustion engine. This love of history hit him so hard, he even bought historic art books to copy their style. “I wanted my work to look as though it could have been painted a century ago,” Uhl told Inked. “The opposite of falling prey to any of the current trends and then the subsequent demise of going out of style.”
The remainder of Uhl’s interview is equally revealing. He talks about his penchant for depicting women in his art. As well as his fascinating reason for not having a single tattoo. So be sure and head over here and check out the entire piece, because it’s certainly one of the more interesting things we’ve read in some time!
Photos: David Uhl for Inked Magazine