If ya dig custom leather work, you should really be checking out MB Leathers! Mario is really putting out some killer stuff and was kind enough to answer a few questions…. Check it out!
1. For openers can you introduce yourself and tell us what ya do?
My name is Mario Burkardt and I own MB Leathers. I moved to California in 2016 from Switzerland to proceed with my company at the core of what drives me to compete with the top of the food chain in my peer group.
Born in Germany, raised around the globe till I was 14 and then settled in Switzerland.
2. Your leather work is world class – a true master of your craft. Can you tell us what got you into leather work and how did you learn it?
I actually have a real education – I went to university and have a masters degree in construction .
I worked the corporate thing as a chief supervisor and started leatherwork as a hobby after I saw Larry’s bike ,Grease Monkey, in Easyriders magazine with the hand tooled seat on it that Paul did.
So, I started messing around with some basic starter kit, I hated it so much and stopped. It sucked so much and was so hard to execute.
After half a year I tried it again as it stuck in my head every day.
Slow progress was made and I just continued.
At the end I got obsessed with it. Remember , at that time there was no YouTube tutorials , no online classes and nobody doing anything like that in Europe. That was 1998 ,1999, 2000.
Slowly, I found stuff out by trial and error and met some real heavy hitters in the industry who became good friends. Robert Beard who is the most awarded leather craftsman in the world became a close friend – he still makes my tools today – what a great man, artist and tutor.
3. What is one of the coolest pieces you have done…the one you looked at after ya did it and thought “FUCK! I did that???”
There’s a few things I like about things I made, but to be honest every time I finish a piece I find a million things I could do different and better – it’s a curse – I need to get so much better – I have this clear vision of what I want to achieve in my craft – I want to master it all and push shit over the top – BUT we’ll never master anything – NO ONE is perfect. I thrive for progress – sometimes successful sometimes not but failing is part of the process.
4. Are there any other folks you really look up to in the industry or have mad respect for?
Paul Cox was huge inspiration and motivation from the beginning – everything he does is fucking unreal – I am very fortunate to hang out with him, watch him, pick his brain. unreal when idols become friends
Robert Beard as mention above
Robert Williams – the Low brow artist
Kenneth Howard aka Von Dutch
Balster the Custom painter from Italy – he paints with his soul and he thought me a lot about being professional
Kiwi Terri – the airbrush artist
Dave Shuten – the Car builder
and so many other fabricators and bike builders
Inspiration is everywhere – I am always curious about things and ask a lot of questions – I believe we can learn from everybody.
There’s so much amazing talented people out there that are unrecognized and just do it for the fun of it.
5. So motorcycles and custom leather go hand in hand….what got into motorbikes and what ya currently riding ?
I grew up on a motorcycle basically. My Dad put me on his bike when I was 2 years old and I got my first bike a Honda z50j when I was 8 years old
Currently I ride a 2019 HD sport glide with a bunch of club style mods.
6. What’s one of your all time favorite rides?
Bike wise my 1946 knucklehead I had
route wise probably my one shot ride form Malibu to Sturgis in 2016 for the Sturgis Rally.
1,335 miles in one sitting that was so painful and sucked so badly good
7. Looks like you have another hobby, martial arts…what discipline do you train and how did you fall into that?
I’ve dabble into martial arts all my life.
I lift all my life.
In 2000, I had a tumor in my shoulder with a surgery and a bunch of chemical treatments. I gained close to 80 pounds.
After that I figured that I can’t wait any longer as time is ticking on all of us so I signed up with classic fight team and the Muay Thai class.
This is one of the premiere MMA gyms in America with a bunch of UFC and world champions training there. I am am the oldest motherfucker in there at 50 trying to hang with these mid 20 to mid 30 year old killers.
The physically hardest thing I have ever done. miserable, painful, challenging but so satisfying
8. Between the bike, the leather work and training….how do you find the time? Have you mastered time travel ???
My life is pretty boring, yet amazing
All I do is work. My workshop is in my little house and I go to the fighting gym
I ride on the weekends and to be honest since I bought a car (I didn’t had a car the last 6 years since I moved to Cali) I ride less as I don’t commute on the bike.
I racked up 79 k miles since 2019 on my sport glide and it needs some love
Other then that I don’t go to bars, drink, gamble or stuff – that’s where I am boring, I love the beach and anything art – SoCal is so rich in all the peers and it’s tough to keep up with everything .
I’m totally out of the loop of what is trendy, hip, or the cool thing as I concentrate on being 1 % better every day with my craft and as a person, that keeps me really busy. also I am single and not a serial dater, that makes a lot of avail, time lol.
Acc. time travel : I want to become 150 years old to see how all this plays out lmfao
9. Social Media has done a lot for small biz and the motorcycle world. Any pet peeves you have about how it’s been playing out?
Social media is a blessing and a curse.
It takes a lot of time to do it right, but it’s a great marketing tool for everybody – sadly there’s a lot of ppl without any skills portraying something they’re not.
My business is 84 % social media based and it blows my mind that ppl actually like what I do – I am so fortunate and thankful for that.
But also instagram deleted my account with out any explanations right before Christmas which set my business back so much – mind-blowing
That REALLY hurts.
10. Thanks for taking the time, tell us where we can check you out or if there are any events you have coming up…….
My homepage is https://mbleathers.com
My new instagram is: https://www.instagram.com/mbleatherscom/
Thank you so very much for having me on here – so very much appreciated!!