INTERVIEW WITH BLACK WIDOW CUSTOM PAINT
It’s funny how people’s worlds collide and meet up.
It was not long after I had moved to Canada many years ago, and slowly starting to attend certain bike events, that I came across a motorcycle parked outside with a matt black gas tank and white writing all over it. Upon closer inspection, there was a white pencil with a note stuck to the tank saying something along the lines of “Go ahead, write on my tank”. I just loved the idea that this person was doing something that no one else would ever do…let alone let a stranger touch their bike.
A couple of weeks later I was surfing the net and came across a Canadian who had some really awesomely painted helmets and gas tanks and there it was…the black bike with the writing on. It belonged to the said person. I sent her an email just to say I loved the idea of the bike and also loved all the paintwork she had on her site.
It was only years after that that we both happened to have a booth at an event and I finally put two and two together, introduced myself and I think it’s safe to say we both admired each other’s art since then.
Well, who would have thought that years later we’d be doing a collaboration gas tank with Rolling Chaos art and Black Widow‘s amazingly skilled paint and I couldn’t be happier with the outcome.
I thought it only right to throw Amanda a few questions on her career and post it up here on RollingChaos.com.
So sit back, take a read and check out some of her amazing work.
Let’s get straight into this and tell me what it is about this line of work that you enjoy and how you got into it?
How I got into painting motorcycles was out of desperation, to be honest. I graduated from Sheridan with a BAA in Illustration and freelanced for a few years with no luck in finding anything full time. In the meantime, I was messing around with an airbrush my dad got me, and over time I started to the get the hang of it, and people started to like what I was painting on my own bike. From there, commissions started to build up and here I am today. But what I love most about this line of work is being immersed in motorcycles all year round, and working with my hands. With the jobs I had in the past where I worked in offices as a freelance designer, I found my energy was completely drained after sitting and staring at a computer screen for 8 hours a day. In my studio, I can be on my feet for 12 hours or more sanding or using heavy machinery to polish, and I feel ten times more energetic and fulfilled at the end of the day.
How long have you been doing this custom paint work for?
I started back in 2006 and sucked horribly at it for a solid 8 years. By 10,000 hours, you either improve, or you quit. I like to think I suck a little less every day.
What has been the most challenging project you’ve had, and why?
The most challenging project I had was a couple of years ago when I had to paint a two-toned paint scheme on an Indian Chieftain that had about 18-20 parts in total. There was an issue with my tape, and it ended up peeling off all the paint next to the pinstripes, which required a complete re-do… That project ended up costing me heavily, and I learned a valuable lesson on tape adhesion and chemical compatibility.
So I’m super stoked with how our collaboration gas tank worked out. Tell the readers how it came about and what the process was from start to finish?
What inspired me to approach you about the collaboration was while we were at Freedom Machine back in 2017. Our booths were next to each other and I got to see more of your work and how you handled your business. You seemed like a fun and reliable person to work with, and I knew your art would translate perfectly onto motorcycles, so I reached out and here we are!
The process of painting it, however, was nerve-wracking. I had to ensure I painted your illustration exactly how you drew it, which meant I had to create a vinyl stencil. Have you ever wrapped a flat sheet of paper over a round surface? It’s not possible, so applying the stencil was a challenge in itself. I used a few long sewing needles, a hair dryer and a bucket of calming music to keep me sane while I weaved each and every teeny tiny little detail and placed it in place on the tank, using the hair dryer to stretch the vinyl stencil so it would wrap around the round surface. By the time I got the first cat down, I was able to learn and adapt a bit better in getting the second one in place.
You just recently did some helmets for the Babes Ride And Rage 5. The three helmets you did I feel, were a slightly different style to what you normally do. How did the theme, subject matter and style come about?
The helmets were inspired by the ladies who attended the camping weekend back in 2017. While soaking up the 15 minutes of sunshine we were given on that freezing weekend, I saw the girls peeling off their multiple layers and revealing amazing body art. I noticed that Biltwell donated a blank helmet as a raffle prize, and thought to my self “how cool would it be to raffle off a helmet with the body art of the babes from the actual event?” I got inspired and quite awkwardly had to ask for photos of each girls’ tattoos. Once I pitched the idea to Cas and Liz (the organizers) they were able to bring Biltwell on board after which it was just a matter of figuring out how to make all the random tattoos mesh together on three different helmets. I decided to work in a limited palette with vintage colours to pop over the cream base. I used 1-Shot paint to outline all the artwork by hand and blew in the colour with an airbrush.
What would be your favourite piece of work you have done to date?
Hands down, my chicken bike, and the Batman fairing.
You also have a knack of coming up with some unique small items like your donut bolts that you have for sale at your shows. What inspired you to come up with that idea?
It was actually my husband who made some random off-hand comment about dough-nuts while he was working on his bike. It seemed hilarious, ridiculous and random, so I had to paint it. Come to think of it, most of my smaller personal projects come about this way.
Your past personal bike had quite a talked-about paintwork. Apart from it being an amazingly executed paint job, why did you chose to go with the chicken themed bike?
I wanted something that would match my personality, and quite frankly, I am not cool enough for racing stripes, skulls and flames, or a majestic eagle. The chicken felt right. And also, I wanted to show off a bit and make the point that I could make a chicken look rad on a motorcycle.
What would your dream paint job be? If you could paint anything with any subject matter?
I think my chicken bike satisfied that itch.
What’s in the future for Black Widow Custom Paint? Any big or exciting projects in the works?
The goal is to keep going and hopefully carry on doing what I love. I know what I do is a luxury, and paint isn’t a necessity to most, so I’m grateful for the opportunity to be able to have enough steady work to keep me busy full time. One exciting paint job I have in the works, (if I can find the time) is painting my new to me Suzuki DR650. With any luck, it’ll be very different from my usual work. And just to settle your curiosity, no, there won’t be any chickens this time around.
All photos courtesy of Amanda and Black Widow Custom Paint, unless otherwise stated.