When you launch a series of production customs, it only makes sense to use a paint shop big enough for your needs. It's even better if said color factory can tailor its work to your customers' aesthetic tastes, which explains why FBI Motor Company uses Gunslinger Custom Paint for the manufacturer's production baggers, like Bob Cicio's badass Razorback here.
The Golden, Colorado, paint shop started out as a side dish to Pearl Auto Body roughly five years ago. From there business grew from a seed to a bumper crop; these days Gunslinger is a stand-alone business. What led to all that growth? A business deal with a large scale bike manufacturer in 2004 and 2005. That necessitated assembly line painting, but Gunslinger hasn't sacrificed the artistry that got them there. Gunslinger co-owner Jeff Thiesen sat down with us and let us pick his brain about how they did that (and other paint-related stuff).
HBB: Describe your operation.
JT: We're a production-based custom paint shop. We work with a lot of manufacturers, both big and small.
HBB: What led to your first big contract?
JT: One of the major manufacturers saw our work in Sturgis back in 2004. I guess they liked it (laughs).
HBB: Tell us about your work with FBI Motor Company.
JT: We use the same paint process for all repeatable custom paint sets. We also have the abilities to take custom paint further with high-end one-off custom airbrush, pinstripes, and textures.
HBB: What's your approach to painting?
JT: Let the artists be artists! We eliminate all the repeatable tasks such as sanding, masking, polishing from the artist. We have a full crew that handles these tasks.
HBB: What do you like most about painting?
JT: It's exciting to be on the cutting edge of style and paint techniques. We always enjoy producing kick-ass, eye catching paint sets.
HBB: Dislike about it?
JT:It's hard being tied to the current economy. Some customers need to stick to their own particular budgets. Trying to provide the best look we can within a tight budget can sometimes be a tall order.
HBB: Any advice for future painters?
JT: They must educate themselves in business. It is imperative to keep the balance between art and business. They need to recognize their own strengths, and not spread themselves too thin.
HBB: Is there a common mistake customers make when it comes to custom paint?
JT: They generally use local shops who put the emphasis mainly on art and detail as opposed to being a refinish chemist. The hottest art on a bike isn't worth it if the paint isn't applied correctly.
HBB: We talked about your production arrangement with FBI, but what about your custom work on their production machines?
JT: We have set frame colors and multiple designs. FBI gives us the ability to use our artistic license within these designs. There is a repeatable look, but each bike has its own unique texture, color and airbrush. This makes it a true custom.