Mountain biker/artist rides in and out of her own painted canvas.

Ride a Bike Thru an Artist's Canvas

© Juicy Studios/Red Bull

Watch athletic & artistic prowess collide as Micayla Gatto rides in & out of her own canvas.

In athletic endeavors, there are often underlying attributes that provide a foundation for talent. Mental and physical strength are the obvious pillars, but there are other forces at work which help to build an individual athlete's style in their sport. For Micayla Gatto, a Canadian professional mountain biker, artistic creativity is the key that unlocks her unique approach to riding.

I've known Micayla for a number of years. Before we'd ever met, I'd followed her racing career in downhill. She had an effortless way to her riding that made it seem like she floated over challenging terrain differently than other riders. We eventually became acquainted through mutual friends, and that's when I discovered that her talent runs far beyond being a great bike rider. 

Changing perspectives. Sometimes a little color adds a lot of effect.
Intersection: Micayla Gatto

Micayla is a creative in the truest sense of the word. She has been painting and drawing her entire life. She doodles whenever the instruments are available. A napkin and a pencil. A random piece of scrap paper and a pen. Blank skin and a marker. She sings, writes music, and is pretty handy on guitar as well. 

Getting creative with set design, the crew went to great lengths to disguise the pond liner used to hold in the colored puddles.
Intersection: Micayla Gatto

Micayla's inspirations are simple, but are never take for granted. “I’m inspired by my surroundings,” she says. “It’s almost unexplainable, but I’ll see something or hear a song that resonates with me, and it’ll start a chain reaction of ideas in my mind, so I’ll grab whatever is closest and start making something. Mostly, it’s my way of understanding and expressing the world around me.” What I love most about Micayla's artistic abilities is that they transcend the canvas and into sport, and this is where our concept for Intersection was born.

Lacy and Micayla reviewing some shoot notes while Micayla works on a piece she drew for one of Retallack's guides as a birthday present.
Intersection: Lacy Kemp and Micayla Gatto

As long as I've been a fan of Micayla's work, I've thought about how beautiful it would be to somehow bring her creativity on paper to life in her riding. She moves on her bike in a similar way she moves a paintbrush on canvas- with a flow and ease not learned in a class, but born with a gift of the highest degree. Last year we'd talked about creating something to go along with her lifestyle brand, Split/Life, which focuses on the double life of being an athlete and an artist. “I feel that athletics and creativity mesh really well together, and yet it’s not something we really shine light on too often,” says Micayla. 

Intersection: Micayla Gatto
Intersection: Micayla Gatto

“Society likes to put people in boxes, and growing up with that was confusing for me. With [Intersection], I hope to welcome and celebrate those that don’t quite fit into a single category.” In my mind, I imagined her riding through vibrant colors created by mother nature, but made more brilliant by her artwork. I kept dreaming of weaving the two together and we kept brainstorming how cool it would be if we could actually somehow animate her artwork into her riding or actually have her ride through her paintings. I could see the final product as clear as day in my mind but knew it would take a serious effort to bring that vision to life.

Intersection: Micayla Gatto
Intersection: Micayla Gatto

Micayla and I teamed up with Scotty Carlson of Juicy Studios, who is an absolute editing/post production wizard. Together with our primary cameraman, Garret Van Swearingen we hashed out the types of shots we'd need to make sure we had the scenic landscapes for Micayla to paint. Our last-minute addition of second cameraman Dylan Siggers proved to be a crucial move. Dylan and Garret had never met prior to the shoot, but they fell in step immediately and created a stellar, hard working team. With the alpine landscapes and perfectly built trails of Retallack Lodge as our own canvass, we set out to find Micayla's intersection.

Intersection: Micayla Gatto
Intersection: Micayla Gatto
Intersection: Micayla Gatto
Intersection: Micayla Gatto

Through epic golden sunrises in the alpine and mid-mountain rainstorms, we found our stride. We geeked out over that perfect dusky light and dodged encounters with Grizzly bears. Mid-shoot we got creative with how to add in other aspects of color and started tossing colored powder. The science experiments continued when we made brilliantly bright puddles out of food coloring, corn starch, and water. 

Intersection: Micayla Gatto
Intersection: Micayla Gatto

Buckets and buckets of water were hauled in from a nearby creek as we drained existing puddles and lined them with rubber pond liner. The effect of the colored water had us "oohing," and "ahhhing" with each explosion. Micayla agrees, “Lacy put some serious time into everything we did, but hand-mixing food coloring and dragging these buckets of colored water up the mountain for me to ride through had to be the craziest thing I’ve ever done for a shoot." 

Intersection: Micayla Gatto
Intersection: Micayla Gatto

"I think we were all crossing our fingers a bit, hoping it would all work out," Micayla said emphatically, "Needless to say, it turned out better than we ever imagined.” After only four days of shooting we amassed a ton of really cool footage and sent it off to Scotty, knowing the next time we saw it would be like Christmas morning.

Intersection: Micayla Gatto and Lacy Kemp
Intersection: Micayla Gatto and Lacy Kemp

Over the course of a couple months Scotty and Micayla worked tirelessly. The detail required to paint the images just the right way so she could be placed back inside of the art was painstaking as was the minutia involved with rotoscoping her back into her work. “Traditionally not a digital illustrator, I actually started by hand-sketching and coloring the scenes, then scanned them, and added more color and contrast on the computer,” Micayla says. “After some inefficiencies, I scrapped that method and ended up doing everything on the computer, and am pretty pleased with the results. As far as Scotty goes, the dude is so chill and such a wizard.”

Micayla and guide Johnny Smoke review colored puddle shots on a rainy afternoon.
Intersection: Micayla Gatto

Every time I saw a new version of their two talents merging, I was giddy. Scotty’s work from Rossland, B.C. was sort of like a guiding light to us. “To me, he’s like that elusive voice dishing out wisdom from Oz over our umpteen phone conferences. I don’t even know what he looks like,” she laughs. There's something really special about a project that comes to life just as you'd always imagined. Seeing the teamwork of Dylan and Garret which acted as Micayla and Scotty’s canvass, and finally watching Scotty put it all together created the most integral intersection of all. Even better, when all of the shots were laid out we were able to perfectly tell Micayla's story of her Split Life as an artist and athlete. One perfectly supports the other. The brush and bike are the tools. The dirt and paper the foundation. The end result is something all of us are really excited to share. Combined, they are the sum of amazing teamwork and representative of Micayla as a whole.

We all have layers. The layers create the makeup of our talents, passions, and work. When all three intersect, we find the true magic in life. Welcome to Intersection, where Art + Sport equals truly incredible individuals.