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Lowbrow Artist, Atomic Bob, Blowing up the Motorcycle Awards

Pinstriping Bell Custom 500 lids

Photos and Text by Jeffrey Najar
3/11/2014


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Atomic Bob of Atomic Dice Studio Arts is the Pied Piper of Lowbrow Art. He takes his brushes and paint on the road and mixes styles from underground comix, punk music, and hot-rod culture on just about anything placed in front of him.
 
We first met up with Atomic Bob at the International Motorcycle Show in NYC while he pinstriped Bell Custom 500 lids for Soul Customs, (soulcustoms.com) a motorcycle lifestyle company, out of Michigan.
 
 
 
The use of pinstriping on motorcycles as it is commonly seen today was pioneered by artists Kenny Howard, (aka Von Dutch), Dean Jeffries, Dennis "Gibb" Gibbish, and Ed "Big Daddy" Roth. These artists are considered pioneers of the Kustom Kulture lifestyle, who burst on the wild flamed scene in the early ‘50s. They are widely recognized as the originators of modern pinstriping.
 
Bob is an interesting cat. His brushes are made from long squirrel hair and look like tiny swords with the brush flairing out and then tapering to and very narrow end. 
 
 
We caught up with him after he completed 18 award helmets for the Harley-Davidson Custom Bike Ride-In Show for Daytona Bike Week. Bob striped trophies for the eight class winners, runner-up winners and two special awards, including the best of show and the Willie G Award. The ride-in custom show and the entire Harley-Davidson experience was located at the east end of the Daytona International Speedway. The competition bikes were on display during the show until 4:00 p.m. 
 
 
 
 
We asked him a few pointed questions about his craft. 
 
BN: How did you get started?
 
Atomic Bob: I started my business in 2009. After art school there was no company to work for, so I decided to go freelance.
 
BN: Talk about Lowbrow art?
 
Atomic Bob: For me it is monsters and weird stuff, pin striping and illustration. It’s an underground visual art movement that arose in the Los Angeles, California, area in the late 1970s. 
 
 
 
BN: How did you put together the Harley gig?
 
Atomic Bob: I was working with Biker Pros on a Bell Custom 500 award at the Smoke Out 15. Jeff Najar of Biker Pros brought this project to me and I was excited to provide the Willie G award, a real honor! 
 
BN: How do you define good pin striping?
 
Atomic Bob: When you draw a line you need to make sure there isn’t any tearing on the edge. The lines need to be symmetric and clean. You can see bad pin striping when the line width gets thin and the artists doesn’t go back over it to keep it consistent. 
 
BN: Do you approach a particular style when pin striping?
 
Atomic Bob: I’m considered a traditional pin striper, meaning that I don’t block out the design in advance. It all flows from the inspiration of the piece. I’ll normally start with dark colors on the bottom and add lighter colors as I move North. I’ll also place an accent color next to the line; a light purple next to a dark purple. I like to lay on a complementary line.
 
 
BN: How did you come up with the Willie G Award?
 
Atomic Bob: Well, I was thinking about his signature look of beret and sunglasses. And I also thought about him being one of the top guys at Harley-Davidson. So I sketched Willie G and created the Top HOG award.
 
 
 
BN: How long does it take to pinstripe a lid?
 
Atomic Bob: The pinstripe with lettering required 2 – 4 hours and the Willie G helmet required about 20 hours. 
 
BN: Where can people find your art?
 
Atomic Bob: I’m on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/atomicdicestudioarts
 
BN: How much does a custom lid run?
 
Atomic Bob: Hmm, from $150 to $600. A lot of people send me their stuff and we get it turned around pretty quickly.
 
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