Artist Profile: Randi Obenauer

"The first time I saw Randi, she pulled up beside me on an old CJ360, crazy curls blowing in the wind. The guys I was with totally stopped talking... When she took off her helmet she smiled at us with a perfectly placed gold tooth. I was like, WHO IS THIS CHICK. Turns out she's as rad as she looks and is one of Vancouver's most talented leather workers. Randi now works full-time in a cool little East Van studio pumping out amazing work but she always seems to have time to be doing something interesting like riding XTs in California, fermenting mint Ginger Beer, and ripping up the Sea to Sky." 

Instagram: @aro_upholstery @orabags

A/S/L: 32/Female/Vancouver BC

Tell us what it is you do. I work with my hands! Custom everything all the time - leather is my favourite medium, I have a line of bags that I sell internationally called Ora, and I do custom motorcycle seats under the name Aro Upholstery.

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You fucking KILL it at what you do and I’m never scared to recommend anyone to get their seat done by you. How did you get so good (seriously)? Well jeez, I had a really awesome teacher when I went to trade school to learn upholstery 10 years ago, I still hear his voice in my head on every project "You only have fear to hold you back!" haha so true…and he also encouraged us to keep learning something new everyday. I'm so grateful for every seat I get to do, I truly love the process and I love challenges. I also owe a huge thanks to Curtis Rafinon, he is a huge inspiration and also a mentor to me, his upholstery tips are gold.

What's your spirit animal? Wolf! Ahhhhwooooo!

Who's your favourite artist and why? Sumac, have you heard them?! Local artists I love are Ali Bruce and Natasha Broad, I love their different styles of depicting nature and the ways they use texture.

I see you around town on your motorcycle, what bikes do you ride? I ride a '12 XT250, I'm working on collector plates for my '77 CJ360T, and I also have an '83 XR185 that was the best $300 I ever spent.

Favourite instagram page you follow? @armyofrokosz because her creations are amazing, her photos are dreamy, and she is the raddest gal around.

It seems like you’re continuously spitting out awesome work. What do you do in your spare time? Well I kind of divide my time between workaholism in Vancouver and escaping the city the rest of the time. I go away pretty much every weekend, to the island, the Sunshine Coast, the interior, Washington, wherever. My guy has a big van so we often take motorcycles with us all year and camp and do day trips on the bikes, we went down to Joshua Tree and back over Christmas. If I stay around Vancouver I have a hard time not-working!

-If we came over to your house for dinner, what would you make us? First I would serve you some wild fermented insanely carbonated homemade ginger beer, and maybe some fermented pickles. I would probably harvest some collard greens from the garden and make stuffed, baked collard wraps filled with rice and veggies and sausage from Windsor Meats. I would bake a pie for desert, with old fashioned lard pastry of course, and I would fill it with my dairy free spicy organic pumpkin filling.

If you could share a beer with anyone on the planet, who would it be? Ina May Gaskin! She is changing the world!

How do people get ahold of you to get work done? email me! Please please include photos of your current bike/seat and any reference photos for what you want to

Summer 2015 plans? Ride as much as possible! And swim! My guy and I want to do a circle trip where we ride over to Vancouver Island, take the Inside Passage ferry up to Haida Gwaii, and then ride back down - hopefully we can make it happen this year!!