Starting life as a university project, Oilfinger magazine has since gone on to become a must-read journal covering the garage culture scene. This beautiful, coffee table-style magazine is dedicated to the world of bike builds and is crafted lovingly by lifelong motorcycle enthusiasts Tobias Hahn and Rick Parker. Tobias tells us more.
How did the idea for Oilfinger magazine come about?
It was started as my design thesis in 2012. I studied communication design at university. And I was always connected to motorcycle riding because of my father. We often went to a bike event in Germany and I loved the whole scene and culture. I got my scooter licence when I was 15 and I customised my scooter with my dad. It was a day-glow orange Piaggio, and I gave it an all-black paintjob. It looked really good and that’s how it all started with motorcycling. When I did my thesis in design, I was wondering “what could I do, what do I really care about?” And that’s when I decided to create a motorcycle magazine.
How is Oilfinger different to all the other motorcycle magazines out there?
Most of the magazines I thought were kind of ugly and not about the spirit of garage culture. So, I thought I should create one myself. I was talking to some guys in a café racer forum about what they think the magazine world is missing and one of them told me they liked what I did, and we should try and publish it.
How hard was it to go from creating a university thesis to publishing a magazine?
Not that complicated because it wasn’t like a thesis in the form of a written exam, it was practical. I’d already created the whole magazine, and just had to change some stories. The biggest issue is money, of course. Printing 2,000 magazines was our goal, and that’s a lot of money. As a student, you don’t have that kind of money. We financed it mostly through sales later on.
You say your magazine is focused on garage culture. Are your audience people who like to get their hands dirty?
Yes, the typical grease monkeys. People who build their own bikes and want to see bikes and builds that come from people like themselves. Not trailer queens and those high-end custom bikes that other magazines are talking about, but more like what the guy next door is building. And to show how much talent and love those people put into their builds.
How long has the magazine been going?
At the end of 2016 we published the first one and since then we’ve published five magazines and are currently working on the sixth. As always, it’s about money and as we have full-time jobs, we mostly do it on the side. Rick Parker joined the magazine a couple of years ago. My idea of a magazine and his style of photos really work well together. He has also done some photography for Motul.
The magazine looks very premium. Almost like a journal. What look were you going for?
I was intending to create a magazine that lasts a bit longer. More of a coffee table book. Something you really cherish. It isn’t like those magazines you throw onto the rack and don’t care about. As the motorcycles we show in the magazines and built with a lot of love, we wanted to recreate this spirit in the magazine. We tried to push our limits to do something really quality-driven. That’s why we print on expensive paper, and do all the photography and writing ourselves, so we can guarantee high quality. We really keep true to our style. We’re also publishing a new website and the magazine will have a bit of an update for the next issue. We have one client who has framed our magazines and put them on the wall.
Your magazine covers bike builds. How important are lubricants in that process?
We have an interview with Motul in the next issue actually and we are talking about fluids, especially motor oil. It will be a deep dive into this whole area, like how important is it to have synthetic oil, for instance.
© Pictures: Oilfinger – Rick Parker