My name is Joe Morris, and I’m an artist based in Chicago. I paint bikes in themes with a style like no other, which started as an accident. I’m a mixed media artist by trade and motorhead through and through. One day working on a painting I started staring at a hole I had on my rear Sporty fender. I hit a nasty pothole on Lake Street that basically ripped the light mount right off. At the time I had an image of a pinup girl cutout in my hand that I was going to use on a new canvas when I decided to use it on the rear fender. It covered up the hole just right… And then a light bulb went off. I used a lot of collage elements in my work, as well as layered paint, and began adding more and more to the fender. I rode it to town the next day after the clear lacquer dried, and everyone who saw it said I should do the whole bike like that fender.
It’s been four years and about a dozen bikes and a few hot rods later. I got an email from Andy DeJong who has seen my work and decided he wanted to drop his bike off on the way back from Sturgis a few years ago. I was pumped because he had a Street Glide, which would make this my second Street Glide paint job—more canvas to showcase more attitude. When Andy pulled up to my garage studio he saw a painting I did of former Pantera frontman, Phil Anselmo, and he said he wanted his bike to look just like that!
I mentioned to Andy that my favorite band is Down from New Orleans, which Phil also fronts. I also told him that I’m a huge fan of the New Orleans heavy-metal scene. Phil has a recording studio in the swampland called Nödferatu’s Lair, and I knew right away that the theme was going to be about one of the most badass recording studios in heavy music. The outside of it is basically an old barn with the sign “Nödferatu’s Lair” over the barn-style doors. I was then obsessed with making the bike feel like this studio from the outside to the inside.
I became Facebook friends with Down’s photographer Joseph Dorignac and studied all the images from inside and out of the Lair.
I studied Phil’s writing on the walls with the dark, salty vibe, I researched all the bands that have played there, and I watched documentaries on the NOLA scene. On the right saddlebag I dedicated it to Dimebag Darrell of Pantera who was killed on stage. His famous drink is called the Black Tooth Grin: two parts Seagram’s Seven Crown, two parts Crown Royal, and a splash of Coke.
I then added Down guitarist Pepper Keenan’s bar logo over the top. He owns a bar in New Orleans and further brings the NOLA scene theme to life.
I kept the photographer in the loop on what I was doing and sent him photos when I was done. He was blown away and said he is sending the photos straight to Phil. Within about 20 minutes—as I sat on my deck drinking a cold one—I get a message back from Joseph with Phil saying, “Wow! That is crazy awesome! Tell that motherf—ker, ‘Right on!’ from me!”
I couldn’t believe it. Not only did I have a client who let me go off on his bagger, but I actually got the approval from the band the bike was inspired by. Passion really came full circle on this, and I couldn’t be more proud. I believe bikes should be able to tell stories. They should be works of art, folk art, and soulful. I don’t bash the glossy paint and airbrush because I appreciate all artists, but I hope that when people see my bikes they see something original. They see art for the soul. For more info on my work, you can visit joemorrisart.com.
|Bike Owner||Andy DeJong|
|Shop Name||Joe Morris Art|
|Shop Phone||(616) 890-1960|
|Assembly||Andy DeJong/Joe Morris|
|Type/Size||Twin Cam/88ci (95 kit)|
|Cylinders||Stage III SE Diamond Cut jugs|
|Exhaust||D&D 2-into-1 Fat Cat|
|Manufacturer||Progressive Monotubes -2, Ness Hot legs|
|Manufacturer Rear||Dirty air rear air ride|
|**Wheels, Tires, and Brakes|
|Manufacturer Front||Southern Metal Choppers Octane|
|Wheel Height/Width||21 x 3|
|Rotors||Southern Metal Choppers rotor|
|Front Fender||FBI Wrap|
|Rear Fender||Bad Dad|
|Handlebars||Yaffe 12 monkey bars|
|Hand Controls/Grips||Performance Machine|
|Foot Controls/Pegs||Jaybrake Forward Controlst|