Meet Ben Giese: Co-Founder, Creative Director, and Editor of VAHNA; a quarterly print publication that tell stories of motorcycles, the natural world in which they are ridden, and the passionate people that ride them.

Ben seeks to inspire others and find inspiration for himself among the adventures he embarks on while creating VAHNA. We wanted to get to know Ben a bit better to see what makes the artist and explorer inside him tick.

Photography by Jack Antal.

Why is print so important to you as a medium with VAHNA?
Growing up in the 90s, print was everything. Magazines were at the center of culture and it’s where people found influence and inspiration for the things they were interested in. The walls of my childhood bedroom were plastered in torn-out pages from motocross magazines, and those pages are what fueled my obsession for motorcycles.

I grew up in the golden age for magazines, so print will always have a special place in my heart. Now that we have transitioned into this fast-paced world of digital content things just feel so transitory. Everything is built for fast consumption and short attention spans, here today and gone tomorrow.
Print publications are slowly dying, and as they become more and more rare, the good ones feel more and more important. More permanent. Print engages your senses in a different way. It reminds us to slow down and to be present in the moment.

Print is a vessel for immortality in a sense, too. It captures and preserves a moment – not only the time and place, but also what you were thinking and feeling at the time – and seals that moment in permanent ink on the page.

“Print engages your senses in a different way. It reminds us to slow down and to be present in the moment.”
What does adventure mean to you?
To me adventure is about two things. The first is a feeling of connection with nature. My admiration for the natural world is the closest thing I have to religion, so losing myself and finding inspiration in a beautiful place is always an amazing feeling. The second part of adventure for me is overcoming the unexpected challenges that come along the way. Getting caught in the rain or snow, getting lost, or breaking down. Being exposed to extremely hot or cold environments.

All those miserable things you go through are also the things that you look back at with the most fondness. That’s the stuff that builds resilience and character that you can carry with you through other aspects of life. Those hard situations are the ones you really remember, and when you look back that’s what really makes for an adventure.
What kind of impact do you hope to make with your work?
I hope that I can inspire people to escape the rat race and choose a path in life that is authentic and fulfilling. Our time here is short and we shouldn’t waste it doing things that make us unhappy. I hope that the stories we tell, and the example we’ve set by carving our own path can show other people that there are no rules on how to live this life. I realize that we are all starting from a different place with different levels of opportunity; but with a dream, a vision and some ingenuity you can integrate your passions with your work and consume yourself with things that fill you up rather than things that drain you.

With the content we create for VAHNA, I want to show people a different side of motorcycle culture. We all know the cheesy cliché tough-guy image that has always been associated with motorcycling, but I want to show people that riding can also be viewed and experienced in a sensitive and poetic way.
“I hope that I can inspire people to escape the rat race and choose a path in life that is authentic and fulfilling.”
The experience of riding a motorcycle is beautiful in many ways. It’s a place where you can shut off the rest of the world and exist purely in the present moment. It’s a form of meditation and solitude where you can collect your thoughts and find introspection. And it’s the purest way to travel through a place. You just feel more connected to your environment when you remove the windshield and you’re completely exposed to the elements and the world around you. Riding is also incredibly dangerous in the best way. Motorcycles can bring you closer to death than almost anything in your life, and in return can make you feel more alive than almost anything else.

These are all sentiments I really want to express to the world through my work with VAHNA. Especially for people who don’t ride, I want them to see our world through a thoughtful, interesting and positive lens.

How do you refresh when and if you feel burnt out?
When I’m feeling burnt out or uninspired, I’ll usually look to the past to find inspiration from people who have done beautiful work. It comes in many forms. Reading books by authors like Jack Kerouac or Hunter S. Thompson, poetry by people like Charles Bukowski, musicians like Kurt Cobain, athletes like Rodney Mullen. Photographers, designers, painters. There’s inspiration to be found everywhere, and when I take in that incredible work it just gets me fired up to go out and create something.

I also find inspiration by unplugging. By going out into nature and getting some quiet time. Listening to music, going on a hike, or putting on my helmet and going for a ride. When I find myself in these quiet places and shut off the noise, ideas and inspiration just seem to come from the ether.
What’s the ideal day like through the eyes of Ben Giese?
To wake up feeling inspired and energized. To be creative and enjoy the process of expressing that creativity. To feel in touch with nature and maintain a humbling understanding of our place in the universe and the brevity of our time. And most of all enjoy the present moment and feel gratitude and love for everything, even the bad things that happen. If I can do all of that it will certainly be a great day.
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