Lots of painters consider it cheating to use motorcycle stencils to spray paint a design on motorcycle tanks and fenders. These comments are probably exclusive to painters who are in it for the art alone. Perhaps the bottom line is not as important to artistic types as it might be to the rest of us in the motorcycle customizing business.
Who wants a cheesy looking paint job to leave their shop? We all know that you lose 10 customers for every one that's not the real with your work. All that being said do I still think there's a place for stencils in a quality paint job?
THERE'S A WORLD OF SICK and MORBID STENCILS TO USE in PAINTING YOUR MOTORCYCLE TANKS, FENDERS OR EVEN A HELMET. You've got evil horned devils, a Maltese or iron cross, studs or a pair of dice to pick from.
I think in certain circumstances that stencils can be arranged and used in part of a creative and innovative design that truly is a one-of-a-kind original. Does this mean that every guy with a rusty, dented tank can make it look fabulous for the super cheap price of a few custom graphic motorcycle stencils and a can of spray paint they picked up on sale at the craft shop? I want to get it on the record that I didn't waste my time answering that question.
I know it's hard for purists to take the mention of motorcycle stencils and custom motorcycle painting in the same paragraph. Can you, a seasoned professional custom bike cleaner who knows the ropes, use motorcycle stencils to run a few more paint jobs a week through the paint booth and still make your customers happy? I would love to give an absolute affirmative answer, but as we all know the outcome is relative to a painter’s vision and imagination as well as skill in the paint booth. I will say that upon close inspection of some flashy paint jobs that I've seen on motorcycle tanks for sale lately, more than a few had used laser cut motorcycle stencils as a tool to help lay out the design.
I have to agree with whoever the artists were that did those paint jobs that the best way to use motorcycle stencils is to either to put together tiny pieces of a particular style of stencil so that the design will be considered original or to stencil a larger motif and do enough artwork in layers around it so that the themed motorcycle stencils that you used won’t be identified as mass marketed copycats.
Bikers have been looking for free printable Harley stencils for years, copyright will probably interfere with this ever becoming a reality. Meanwhile, for the brand of biker with more than the average dose of ingenuity it's possible to make your own motorcycle stencils. I'm not advocating theft of artwork and property I'm just stating a fact that painters and stripers have known for years.
Beyond stencils of particular brand motorcycles some of the more popular tank and fender stencils with bikers that I've seen used lately are:
Asian or Oriental dragon stencils. An idea that our shop has yet to use would be to the tail of the Dragon and wind it over and under various parts of the bike’s sheet metal ending of course somewhere under the rear fender taillight.
Cactus, Mexican, Latino or other styles of Southwest Stencils
Flame Stencils- Used to death but still extremely popular
Graffiti Stencils for the Urban Crowd
Skull Stencils – Jolly Roger Pirate or just the Skull and Crossbones Graveyard Variety
If nothing else stencils will challenge you to come up with something creative that's never been done before with classic themes. If you get good at it, using stencils will give you more speed in finishing a design than you could ever manage on your own. Here’s one crucial tip to get you started on your way to using stencils for automotive or motorcycle use: Get quality laser cut vinyl stencils or if you make your own get heavy plastic sheets so that you can reuse your designs. If you think your artwork is unique enough copyright your artwork and sell it! Hey, everybody’s not in it for the art and even if you are, making some money isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
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