Fresh art on fresh helmets – that’s the simple concept behind our Unframed campaign, now in its second year.

In addition to fresh art, we also wanted to sample some fresh artists – internationally inspired Nutcases that are doing their thing the globe over and can represent our brand of nutty.

Carla Bartow is just such an artist. Born and bred on the East Coast of the U.S., Carla has worked as an artist and illustrator all of her career. Just a year and a half ago, she decided to move to Portland, Oregon and ply her trade on the opposite coast.

Carla in her 'vintage' Nutcase helmet.

Carla in her ‘vintage’ Nutcase helmet.

That’s been a fortuitous move for Carla, who has begun to make a name for herself with her whimsical, nature-inspired motifs that she does on linoleum blocks or more recently, in large-format murals around the town of Portland.

Carla is also active in Portland’s iconic bike community, and designed the artwork (seen above) for the 2015 Tweed Ride, which is a fun dress-up ride inspired by the first generation of gentlemen and gentlewomen bicyclists of the 1890’s.

Even though Carla has worked on a number of great projects since coming to Portland – including designing a winning entry for the 2015 Nutcase Unframed campaign, Carla was still amazed that she was nominated as best visual artist in the local Willamette Week Best of Portland contest now going on (vote for Carla here before June 30).

“I was very surprised to receive the nomination,” Carla said. “I love that the work I’ve been doing here is allowing me to visually reach new audiences – although I’ve worked on a lot of cool projects I still consider my art to be ‘under the radar.'”

Carla has done many posters and album cover art, and her move to Portland expanded her oeuvre.

“The book cover that I did for Bruce Greif’s Pier Rats, the helmet design I did for Nutcase, and the murals I’m working on in Portland this summer are all amazing ways that my art has been able to reach a broader spectrum of viewers,” she said.


SNEAK PEEK! Carla’s original helmet design.

Carla finds the Portland art scene more collaborative and less competitive than the East Coast art world she is used to.

I’m in awe of so many other Portland artists,” she said. “I’m also encouraged by the broad range of art appreciation I feel is unique to Portland – the importance of art and the support is embraced by more people outside the artist/musician realm.”

Carla's sketches for an upcoming Portland mural.

Carla’s sketches for an upcoming Portland mural.

As a Nutcase Unframed artist Carla will travel to the Eurobike show to show off her helmet, and also put the new helmet on display at Interbike this year in Las Vegas. She’s also been asked by the Interbike managerial team to design a cover for the show guide cover.

At both the shows Carla and the other two Unframed artists will be painting live during the events. For her helmet design, Carla used earth-loving, Pacific Northwest images and colors that she has experimented with since coming here.

Winning Willamette Week’s ‘Best Visual Artist’ for the Best of Portland contest would be a great kudo for this up and coming artist.

Yet Carla said she’s also fulfilled a long-time goal this year by designing the Unframed Nutcase helmet, as a helmet design was definitely on her bucket list.

Here’s the link again in case you’d like to vote for Carla –  you don’t need to be a Portland or Oregon resident to participate. And check out the current Artists’ Series of helmets here.