Featured Build: STP Airbrushing
Get to know Mike St.Pierre from STP Airbrushing
One of the best parts about the motorcycle community is the uniqueness of each ride. This can be from the customization of the ride through parts like adding or removing original items to give the bike more personality that matches the rider. It can also be accomplished in another form: customizing the paint job or adding some airbrush art to the motorcycle. Airbrush is one of the great ways that you can make your bike standout and really showcase who you are as a rider. It also speaks to the long connection between the motorcycle community and the arts community over the years! We recently interviewed Mike St.Pierre from STP Airbrushing to showcase some of the great work being done right here in Ontario!
Tell us a bit about yourself, what do you do?
My name is Mike St.Pierre. I am a professional freelance Artist with a diploma in Fine Art. I have worked in many mediums including oils, inks and pencils but my mainstay weapon of choice is Airbrush!
How long have you been doing it for?
I have been Freelancing since 1980 and have worked for major advertising agencies in Canada and the United States doing magazine work, Album Covers and book jackets.
I am a self taught Airbrush user, as there were no teachers for it when I went to College and certainly no Youtube channels or internet. Just the odd book here and there! But with my traditional training as a painter it came rather easily.
When did you start airbrushing?
My first airbrush project was in 1974 as a young kid in high school painting a friends van! I would probably cringe if I saw it today!!! But you have to start somewhere!!
How would you describe your style?
My style has always been “realism” and my training in advertising kept me in that realm. But I also like to lean my work towards “fantasy”. This helped in the transition to painting Motorcycles and Goalie Masks!
What is your preferred motorcycle to work on?
Although I had done a number of “automotive” pieces in my youth, my career in doing motorcycles didn’t really start until 8 years ago when I was approached by a gentleman who wanted a bike painted for an upcoming show. We took first prize in that show and then the orders started coming in and I became a “motorcycle” painter!!
The artistic process of painting a motorcycle or a guitar or a goalie mask is no different than painting on a flat panel..there is the design, the masking, the free hand, the color theory, etc.. The only difference is the prep and the clear coating, which I had to learn but prefer to let someone else do as I work with several bodyshops in the area!
When a client comes to me with a vision, I treat it like I would a tattoo artist would. This is a personal piece with a fair bit of commitment on the part of the client. So we discuss the project and how to personalize it. This is where my design sense comes in. Many times a client will just have bits and pieces of an over all theme, and it’s up to me to bring it all together in a design that not only works on the motorcycle, but also falls within the clients budget and expectations! This is the most gratifying part of what I do, when I present a unique rendering to a client that is beyond their articulation of what they envision.
But other times clients are very specific in what they want..and they simply present me with a picture and say “Please paint this on my bike!!” LOL
And often the customizing does not entail Illustration, sometimes its a Graphic look with geometric designs, flake and candy colors, lacework and filigree!! It’s all fun!!
What advice would you give to a young person looking to get into the industry?
My advice for anyone starting into airbrushing, and I tell my students this all the time..is learn how to draw!! A sloppy first rendering will only lead to a sloppy airbrush final piece! Learn the basics of perspective, foreshortening, contrast and color theory. The airbrush is simply a tool, just as tape and stencils are. Don’t rely heavily on quick gimmicks to get you to the finish line...use them as a tool to run the race.And build your sense of style and design that will help you see what your clients are trying to see and ultimately set you apart from other artists. And this is the advice I would give anyone “looking” for an airbrush artist. Look for someone that does not just “color” in the design. When someone simply uses stencils it is very obvious and quite frankly very lazy! Look for someone with a flair for illustration and their work tells a story!
I have no real preference to what “style” or “make” of motorcycle I paint..I just like the ones that have enough space to do my work on!!!!But having said that, I have done a number of portraits on golf clubs!!! My pleasure comes from seeing peoples faces when the clients pick up their projects and the huge smiles on their faces. I am fortunate enough to make a living doing what I love!
Checkout STP Airbrushing's work by visiting their website: http://stpairbrush.ca/
You can also check them out on Facebook!
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