Jared Dowland couldn’t be happier when he received his refurbished two tone candy marble and metallic street glide motorcycle. Scott Farrell, an airbrush pro, transformed Dowland’s motorcycle with red, silver, and black designs.
Dowland now rides the motorcycle in style. Farrell says he shows it to everyone and is so thankful to have a new, improved, ride.
Dowland got the gift because Farrell suited up, wore a mask to refrain from breathing in the fumes, and painted away in his 7,000 square ft shop. As the owner of his own custom paint shop named Attitude Custom Painting, Farrell says that he has always loved making ugly things nice-looking. He gets so excited when he listens to his customers tell him how thrilled they are with their new paint job. What he loves the most is the customers’ reactions when they pick up a show quality paint job or when he hears positive feedback on a paint job he did for someone out of state or in the country.
“The goal is to make sure customers get a top notch, show-winning custom paint job,” said Farrell. He says in order to reach this goal, he must always push himself to be the best in anything he does.
From flames to skulls to any type of graphic a person can imagine, professional airbrush artists say that they dedicate themselves to create polished paint jobs that make heads turn on the road.
Automotive paint came of age in the year 1910, approximately 6 years after Henry Ford founded Ford Motor company. Custom paint shops specializing in products like cars, trucks, musical instruments, surfboards, and motorcycle helmets have been around since the 1880’s, but once the paint shops got their hands on autos, the process of painting a car took as long as 40 days. Changes in paint and airbrush technology meant that in the 1990’s, custom paint shops acquired new, durable paint and new tools that allowed for an easier, quicker painting process. Today, West Coast custom paint shops specialize in changing paint colors and airbrush art graphics. The shops have become popular because advanced tools like airbrushes have added graphics and customized images to modes of transportation and other products like guitars, firearms, and toilet seat covers that make them stand out.
West Coast custom painters say their airbrush work hits the hearts of their customers. Like Farrell’s customer who now has a polished motorcycle that he rides everyday, another West Coast custom paint artist gave someone something that featured his airbrushed work.
Ed Hubbs, the owner of Full Blown Kustoms in Eugene, Oregon, presented a woman who was battling her third cancer with a painted Harley trike. The woman battling cancer named the trike “Rose,” the name of her Grandma who had passed away.
“She wanted to ride the Harley trike at least once before leaving this Earth,” says Hubbs, a man who now considers himself to be a very close friend to the woman, who is still alive.
On a typical day in his Full Blown Kustoms shop, Hubbs dedicates his day to working on cars, trucks, or motorcycles with airbrush designs and whatever else he is asked to do by his customers. Hubbs says that the spray booth in his shop is where all of the specialization happens. Duties for him include washing the car, painting it, masking it, or taping designs to the car, streaking a bunch of colors back and forth on it, and releasing the tape that reveals the design.
Hubbs says that the thing he likes most about his job is meeting all of the people and hearing their stories on how they ended up at his shop, as well as receiving a reward once he completes an airbrush job.
Another painter who enjoys the range of people she meets that she makes an impact on with her custom paint artwork is Daneen Bronson, the owner of Custom Paint by Daneen in San Jose, California.
Bronson has worked on products ranging from motorcycles to trucks to guitars. In 2011, Bronson had the opportunity to craft a memorial guitar for a boy named Alan Carter Villaruz-Curley, who passed away in the year 2010. He was a teen guitarist whom many people said had a “gift of music.”
Bronson painted Alan’s face in the clouds on the front of the guitar and it was dedicated to a nonprofit organization named “Pick With Austin.” It is an outreach program that Bronson says is a good cause. The guitar originates from Round Rock music and guitar store, Danny Ray’s Music, but the show guitar that she airbrushed will travel to events and presentations with the organization, and with the intent to draw attention to their cause.
Bronson says that she believes Alan would really appreciate what she had done for him because the organization really admired the fact that she took the time to design a product for him. She is very happy with the fact that her artwork put smiles on people’s faces.
What launched her career as a custom paint artist was a time where she saw an article about a man named Horst in a Parade magazine. She says Horst inspired her to do exactly what he does. She didn’t know much about motorcycles at the time, but he was an airbrush artist in Hayward who painted murals on motorcycles.
“There were pictures of his work with wild flame jobs, dragons, skulls, wildlife, all on this little slab of metal with a gloss so high you could see yourself smile in it,” says Bronson. She says that creating art on something that propelled down the highway at 80mph seemed exciting and unique.
After being in the business for 11 years, she says she feels more confident and knows that if she sticks with something, it will work.
“Being mostly self-taught, I struggled and screwed up so much. There were times that I was on the verge of tears trying to fix a mistake at the last minute,” she says. But what kept her to be determined to stick with her job was her passion for painting. Bronson says that she strives to keep customers satisfied with what she has created for them. She motivates herself, she says, and if she didn’t love what she does, she wouldn’t necessarily care.
Bronson says that she overcame her fear because she found what she really wanted to do. Now she is glad that she put the practical side of her to sleep and she followed her passion.
Farrell’s happy about following his passion too. Farrell says that the finished motorcycle that was given to Dowland was a gift that he will always remember.
“Dowland couldn’t be more satisfied” says Farrell. “His 2008 FLXH Street Glide will be his prized possession forever.”
Lonnie Fourman is a custom paint artist that lives in Mattoon, Illinois and works for his own website named AirGraffix.com. What sparked Lonnie Fourman’s interest for airbrush painting was watching T-shirt airbrush artists at fairs and amusement parks. Fourman says that this inspired him, along with his mother to purchase a miniature air compressor. At the age of 18, he used the air compressor, along with the airbrush and paint that his mother bought him, to make basic lettering on taxis for his mother’s taxi/limousine service and to airbrush T-shirts. Fourman practiced airbrushing often.
When summer ended, Fourman landed a job in a 20,000 square ft. facility where he mostly airbrushed and painted murals. Over the years, Fourman went from airbrushing T-shirts to now airbrushing motorcycle helmets. He says that his love for anything custom inspired him to start AirGraffix.com, his own custom airbrush site where he focuses on airbrushing helmets for his customers. He says the helmets are painted with highest quality paints. Fourman seals them with automotive grade and a high gloss urethane clear coat.
Fourman says that in order to ride a motorcycle in style, an airbrushed helmet is a must. From flames to skulls to just an array of vibrant colors, Fourman likes to transform a bland helmet into a work of art. Customers are able to send in their ideas to him on his website. He has shipped many custom helmets all over the world so he hopes that his website will continue to be a success. He also says that his passion for airbrush painting will never go away.
Mick Cassidy is the owner of Bad Ass Paint in Los Angeles, California. At his shop, Cassidy specializes in airbrushing rifles and other types of firearms. With an influence in Celtic design, he came to the United States from Ireland in the early eighties to open up his own business. He says after years of practice of airbrush painting, results began to show.
His business gets booked up two months year round. He says his mission is to never sacrifice quality for quantity because they remain at the top of their class in quality as the basis of custom painting and airbrushing. Cassidy says that it usually takes 3 to 4 weeks to complete the artwork because he likes to take his time with making a product look the best.
His artwork has been featured on Fox television’s show The Shield, the show Sons of Anarchy on FX, and MTV’s Pimp My Ride. His articles and airbrushed paint designs have been featured in various magazines like Airbrush and Iron Horse.
Cassidy says that before he started his work, many people refused to help him. “I loved to paint and draw and so many people refused to help or share techniques with me,” he says. Then he jokes, “I even tried to sell my soul to the devil-but he wasn’t buying that day.”
But he kept practicing and went to every event possible in surrounding states in order to get a glimpse of the types of art people have created. Eventually things changed and now he is obviously successful. Cassidy says that he loves owning his own business now and continues the joy of making products of others better.