Just as a tattoo on the arm says something about a person-biker trash, mini-trucker, military, etc.-getting an image on your truck can let people know a little bit about you. I'm not talking a full-blown set of flames or scallops that costs a ton of money (like a full-body tattoo); what I'm referring to are smaller pieces of art that won't take over the truck, but complement it.
What got me thinking about this was a lunch-time visit to Eightball Rods and Choppers to visit Stefan and see some of the bitchen choppers he's got in his shop. I was in the lobby when I spotted a kickass early Ford radiator that had been painted up with a shop logo just to hold some business cards. I asked Stefan about it and he said, "That was Vandemon. He's always doing something a little kooky."
I went into the shop and asked Steve how painting something like that differs from pinstriping. As he was explaining the process, the tech editor in me popped up and thought, "There's a story here."
Steve and I discussed what type of design I might like to see on my S-10, and I thought a stylized yellow jacket on the back of my truck might kill some of the bumblebee comments I've received. Steve told me to go home and clean my truck while he draws something up. The following images map out how it was done and what you need to do it yourself. Steve makes it look easy, but if you have some artistic ability and some time to practice, this just might be something you could tackle.
What's In The Toolbox?
Here are the basic items you need to purchase. We got ours from Coast Airbrush in Anaheim, California. First and foremost you'll need paint, and 1 Shot lettering enamel is great because you can get it in small quantities and it comes in an array of colors. Second, you'll need assorted brushes-lettering quills and long liners to be exact. The long liner, or striping brush, is used for outlining and some smaller details. Lettering quills are used for the bulk of the design and fill work. The brushes differ in two basic ways: hair and handle length. I'll get into why later in the story.
1.Before Steve put any paint on my Chevy's tailgate, he showed me his basic sketch of the
2.Once the basic design was sketched on the paint, Steve prepped the paint and brushes. Us
3.The lettering quill won't hold as much paint because of its shorter hairs, but it will p
4.To create the highlight and low-light colors, Steve mixed in darker or lighter paint to
5.Here is a better look at how Steve holds the lettering quill. Just like pinstriping, you
6.After adding some low lights to the edge of the banner with a touch of the tip and a swo
7.More white was added to the gray to create the highlights. The use of light will give yo
8.The same gray highlight was used for the wings and goatee. More white was added to the g
9.When we got back, everything was dry enough to move on to the lettering. The phrase "Sti
10.Unless you're a pro like Steve, I'd recommend hand-drawing the whole letter and then co
11.While the letters were drying, a long-liner brush was prepped with some black paint. He
12.To add a little kick to the letters, Steve decided to thin some blue so he could spray
13.Steve grabbed a small lettering quill and added even more little highlights to Stinga X
14.I thought it was all done, but Steve had one more trick for us. He outlined the whole d
Artist profile: Steve vandemon
We sat down with the legendary Southern California painter to ask him a few questions and see what makes him tick. Steve is fascinated by leadsleds and little men from outer space, but we had to know more:
ST: Has being a custom painter taken you anywhere cool?
Vandemon: Yeah, I got to go to Europe for an airbrush show, Australia for the Summer Nats, and New Zealand for The Beach Hop.
ST: What do you do when you're not painting?
Vandemon: Hang out with my family or plug in the bass and pound out a few chords from Stryper songs.
ST: What new skills would you like to learn?
Vandemon: Ethics and social skills.
ST: What is the oddest thing someone has asked you to paint?
Vandemon: A set of clown shoes.
Stefan Amann, owner of Eightball Rods and Choppers walked over after the interview and jokingly said, "After 11 years of sniffing paint fumes, Steve has finally lost his mind. I wouldn't be surprised if he relocates to the desert with his alien collection and tinfoil hats."
The Final Word
After watching Steve throw down this design, all I can say is wow. He made everything seem effortless, which got me motivated to go home and try something. Using the lettering quill wasn't too bad-it provides a lot more control over the long liner that I fought with for a few hours before giving up. I still need to work on twisting the brush as I create a curve, but with practice it will come. If you want your very own piece of Vandemon artwork, go to Steve's website. He sells a lot of cool stuff you may want to throw some cash at.