Niles Harper has got some serious talent: Bmx, skate, art, and still fills a full time machinist job at Profile Racing. Was stoked to do this little catch up interview with him. Here’s a little bit regarding what he’s been up to…All riding photos care of Chris Burden ( www.chrisburdenphoto.com ) or on IG @cburden
Thanks for taking time to do this, Niles. Enjoy! See you at SPoT Roast.
Name: Niles Benjamin Harper
Hometown: Palmetto, GA. Currently residing in beautiful Indian Rocks Beach, FL.
1.You got into skating first before bmx came into the picture. Living in rural Georgia, what inspired you to pick up a bike?
After a pretty short time of trying to make skateboarding work in a tiny town with almost no skate-able paved surfaces, I just naturally found more to launch off of on a bicycle. I still have an issue of GO Magazine from 1990 that was probably my first look at “BMX”. It had a shot of DMC 360’ing a set of stairs and I remember wondering to myself “how do you make a bike do that”. I probably saw RAD for the first time around then, and as you can imagine I was pretty stoked to jump off of everything. I didn’t get my first BMX bike for another six years. I just flopped my janky Walmart MTB off whatever hills and terraces I could find. I saved for a year hoping to buy a dirt-bike, and when I realized that $100 wasn’t going to cut it I settled on a Schwinn Predator. It was obviously the right choice, and I was pretty well hooked from there. The rural setting played perfectly into my love of tossing myself into the air on that bike. My parents had plenty of land for me to stack dirt all day and build whatever I wanted to ride.
2.Why Florida? What brought you down here?
I think it was timing, more than anything, that brought me to Florida. There were a couple of long cold winters in Georgia in addition to needing a break from my job at the time. I sent down a resume on a whim (to Profile) and got an email back six months later haha. I had been working in aerospace for a few years and had gained a lot of great experience at the cost of losing a bit of myself. I just needed to get back to something I knew and loved, and BMX was it. So I naturally chose the closest BMX company and sent my resume there. Aside from the job bringing me here, the weather in the winter, the ocean, and proximity to skateparks were all very appealing.
3.You recently got back into art pretty heavy. I was curious what your influences are both stylistically and content wise?
I couldn’t even begin to describe my style. Part of what draws me to art is the freedom to do whatever I want. There are way too many mediums to explore to tie myself to just one thing. I can say that I have been really enjoying the simplicity of pen and ink lately. Subject matter isn’t really that important, to me, either. I’m certainly not trying to make any kind of statement by what I choose to draw or paint. Right now art is purely for my own pleasure, it’s just fun, and I hope to keep it that way as long as possible.
As far as influences go, a lot of them come from skateboarding and BMX. In particular I always liked Michaels Sieben’s work for Terrible One, and pretty much everything else he’s done. I have always liked Mutiny’s clean branding. In contrast I love FBM’s DIY style of art, ads, and design. From skateboarding I liked Lucero and Jim Phillips’ graphics, as well as Ed Templeton’s crazy ads and artwork.
The best art is always simple, honest, fun, and never contrived. Those are my only artistic guidelines. The greatest of which is fun.