To be perfectly truthful, most of us quake at the sound and the sight of them. In their black leather jackets, helmets, tattoos, embellishments of iron crosses and even a skull or two, motorcyclists slaloming through traffic at 60, 70, 80 miles an hour scare the living daylights out of us. However, if we suspend judgement and dig a little beneath the costumes and paraphernalia, we may find, as illustrator Murray Tinkelman did recently, that they're not all rogues and miscreants. According to Tinkelman the motorcyclists he befriended are a bunch of "pussycats" — sweet, shy, sensitive, serious guys who love their machines, love to tinker with them, decorate them, maintain them, and simply find that motorcycling is an economical, unconfining way to travel. But then, Murray Tinkelman is a romantic. He too loves machines, he loves people. He loves life's surprises and incongruities. (That he loves to draw goes without saying.)

Tinkelman, who gave up riding a dirt bike himself after a few unkind spills, gets vicariously revved up by these active bikers and their machines. He sees them as romantic archetypal strong men who have not lost the spirit of adventure, even in our confining work-oriented times. In another age they might have been gladiators in chariots, armor-clad knights on noble steeds, or the mythical centaur — half man, half horse. Even in our modern mythology, they are the living counterparts of the fantasy toy robot-cars, creatures inseparable from their machines.

The fusion of man and machine was the image Tinkelman latched onto for this series of illustrations. Yet he seems constitutionally incapable of objectifying and disengaging himself from the humanity of his subjects. To satisfy both predilections, he drew the men head-on,
making eye contact with the viewer. We simply can't ignore them.

Insatiable as Tinkelman's curiosity is about machines, his pleasure in people seems even more embracing. And in much the same way, he can't seem to get his fill of the minuscule hatch marks that make up his drawings. It's safe to guess that in any one of his drawings there are thousands upon thousands of tiny ink lines — each one laid down with as much pleasure as purpose.

Portion of an article written by Marion Muller for U & LC.