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Helmet painting / airbrush artists

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
For my 40th b-day my wife wanted to surprise me with a new painted ski helmet (I need a new one anyway because I slammed my head pretty good this season and possibly compromised my Giro fuse). (Un)fortunately, she realized that she can't just go and pick out a helmet due to fit issues, so she had to sort of ruin the surprise part. So now I need to go out and find myself a suitable helmet for getting a cool airbrush job on. My first concern will be finding one that's close to being as cool (temp wise) as the Fuse because I ski in the warm mid-atlantic, and overheat easily with helmets that don't vent well. My next issue is finding a good airbrush artist who knows how to paint helmets. This is what I'm looking for you help from you guys with. I realize I'll probably need to ship the helmet, so I don't really care about location, but I am looking for some actual first-hand knowledge of any artist's work that you may know of. Skill doing animal heads is probably what I'll want, but haven't decided on a design and am open to anything.

The only person I know who has had helmets painted is Katie Fry, so I may try to contact her as well. I've seen some of Picabo Street's helmets and LOVE the paint jobs, but I don't know how to contact her (admittedly, I haven't even tried to look her up on the net yet, which I may do) I'm also going to try some motorcycle sites since it's not too far off from painting m/c tanks, and I'm guessing some m/c riders get their helmets painted.

Any help you can provide would be hugely appreciated!
post #2 of 22
Picabo et al, use hardshell race helmets. Painting them is a different proposition than painting a throwaway recreational skiing helmet like a Giro that has exposed styrene foam that could be compromised by contact with the chemistry in primers and paints. Proceed with caution.
post #3 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jstraw
Picabo et al, use hardshell race helmets. Painting them is a different proposition than painting a throwaway recreational skiing helmet like a Giro that has exposed styrene foam that could be compromised by contact with the chemistry in primers and paints. Proceed with caution.
Agreed. I will be looking for a hard shell helmet as opposed the bike-helmet-gone-ski-helmet style of the Giro Fuse and others. Briko and Leedom (I think) both make hard shell helmets, but the last time I tried one on (a couple of years) the Leedom did not fit my head well at all. I'm sure there are other brands, but I need to do some shopping.
post #4 of 22
Hardshellthewhatnow?

What's the difference between hardshell and regular?
Where do I get the better one?

What's the story here?
post #5 of 22
Thread Starter 
A typical helmet, like a Giro 9 or Fuse is simply a carved foam blck with a very thin, soft plastc shell to cover it for asthetics. There are two issues with this for painting. One is that the paint may affect the structore of the foam and thin shell, and also that it can't be sanded if necessary, so that it has some "tooth" for the paint to stick to. Plus, that thin piece of plastic is very flexible and the paint probably would chip and crack off of it.

I wouldn't say that one is "regular", vs ??? Both styles are pretty common, but race helmets are usually hard shells. I think they weigh a bit more but can also take multiple impacts. That said, I've seen racers use Giro 9s and Fuses - especially snowboarders.
post #6 of 22
There are special paints for plastic helmets that do not compromise the shell's strength or integrity. Make your artist aware of this. As for the paint job, many custom body shops either have on staff a decent painter who also does airbrush work on helmets, bike tanks, guitars, etc, or source out to a local one. There are also a lot of guys doing art on goalie masks who would probably take your business.

I just googled "helmet art", "goalie mask art", and "airbrush art" and came up with a ton of info and personal webpages for artists who do this stuff.
post #7 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bez
There are special paints for plastic helmets that do not compromise the shell's strength or integrity. Make your artist aware of this. As for the paint job, many custom body shops either have on staff a decent painter who also does airbrush work on helmets, bike tanks, guitars, etc, or source out to a local one. There are also a lot of guys doing art on goalie masks who would probably take your business.

I just googled "helmet art", "goalie mask art", and "airbrush art" and came up with a ton of info and personal webpages for artists who do this stuff.
Thanks Bez. I did the same search. For as many hits as you get, there really are not a lot of different folks doing this, but probably enough to find the right type of artist. It looks like it'll cost between $300-$500 just for the paint job!: One of the folks I found, does a lot of the NASCAR recer's helmets. So if I'm going to drop that kind of coin, I want to make sure I find someone that will do it right the first time.
post #8 of 22
I think you've got some good suggestions here.

Minor thoughts:

- I'd probably locate and talk to an artist first, before picking out the helmet. The artist should have some info about what works or doesn't. If he's done ski helmets before, he may be able to tell you everything you need to know. Even if he's only done motorcycle helmets (or whatever), he'll still know about limitations, possible problems and solutions.

- You may run into a little bit of a conflict between your desire for coolness (in the temperature sense) and a coolness (in the looks sense). The race helmets with hefty, hard, sandable shells tend not to have vents, or more minimal ones at least.

- Among current ski racers, Didier Cuche is perhaps best known for the look of his helmets.

http://www.xtdev.com/ski/gallery/new...ndy Clark.jpg
http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/image...alpine_416.jpg
post #9 of 22
My bad, I didn't realize how few actual artist's sites there were....and $300-$500 is pretty steep.
But I do know that there are plenty of people who are into helmet painting and/or airbrushing, at least as a hobby. Ask around at the local art supply shops or anywhere else artists congregate. Believe me, as a fellow artist, I know there are a lot of very talented people in every city who would love to work on a piece like a helmet that so many other people will see, and won't charge such a steep price.

If all else fails, I know several artists here who can do the job for you. Unfortunately, I am not at one with the airbrush.
post #10 of 22
Thread Starter 
I got a response from Katie Fry within about a half hour of when I sent her an email. Her helmet was a Marker M2, but her atrist got out of the business.

sjj, Thanks for the input. Although I'm not looking to be someone's 1st experience, I'll see what I can find in the local area. But to be honest, I'd rather spend a little more and ship it out to someone who has tons of experience and has pictures of their work for me to see. There was one guy I found who said he has done literally thousands of goalie masks and helmets, and another who has done over 500. Plus, like I mentioned, there is a woman who has done a lot of the NASCAR Nextel Cup driver's helmets. She's expensive though. The artists give some general guidlines about what sort of helmet is best, but I like your idea of picking an artist and asking them before I go out and buy one. I also think you may be correct about coolness vs coolness. I'd hate to get a helmet with a killer paint job and spend all that money, then not be able to wear it because I overheat in it.
post #11 of 22
Try this www.troyleedesigns.com -They do custom mx helmuts.
When my son was racing mx there was a few people that advertised at the tracks-check out your local district mx races!!

Terry
post #12 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tcarey
Try this www.troyleedesigns.com -They do custom mx helmuts.
When my son was racing mx there was a few people that advertised at the tracks-check out your local district mx races!!

Terry
Thanks Terry. He does some pretty cool stuff, but custom, detailed graphics start at $1200: : :
post #13 of 22
I just used a 4 inch brush and left over oil paint from my light post.

While you can see the brush marks--The dunce cap I glued to the top of the helmet does not let your eyes focus on them.


I also glued a needle at the top of the hat---for snowboarders that I may collide with---head on.
JB weld is a great invention.


Just Kidding---I taped my son's photo (laminated) onto my helmet this winter. Went over very well. Instant trust with my adult students, especially moms. If the price is right--maybe I will have it airburshed this year.
post #14 of 22
get in touch with Kingdom Kids in East Burke Vt- they auctioned a helmet done by a body shop guy in Lyndonville or maybe St. J. Vermont. The folks at K.K. can tell you who did it. It was beautiful and I am told the guy loves doing it-- I think he has done several for the kids at Burke Mountain Academy-
post #15 of 22
I had my helmet painted by my Body Shop guy. Go to the Body Shop's in your area and ask them who they use for art work.

PM my friend skichica88 she attends BMA. She may be able to help you with the persons name, if you want to ship it somewhere. Personally I'd have it done local so you can talk to the artist.
post #16 of 22
I can't believe that you guys are whining about having to pay $300-$1,200 for an original piece of art (even if it is on your helmet).
post #17 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by OldSchool
I can't believe that you guys are whining about having to pay $300-$1,200 for an original piece of art (even if it is on your helmet).
Yeah, you're so right. I take back my original comment about $300-$500 (or even higher) as being steep. That was the part of me that has traditionally undersold myself and/or the value of my (and others')art.

Fact is, most artists are very underpaid for their talent and hard work, because most people expect art to be just another mass produced consumer item you pick up at the mall. Some art is indeed intended for mass consumption, but if you want something a little more personal and customized than stickers can provide....
post #18 of 22
Bez, I'm glad to see you change your tune. I am also an Artist and run an Art Gallery. The Hardest working people I know are successful Artist. It takes a lot of time Talent and guts to make it as a Painter or Sculptor or other kind of Artist. Nobody needs art but art is one of those things that just makes all our lives better. Even our decisions to buy a ski are influenced on the graphics.

Many years ago I made my living as an Airbrush Artist. I worked in the Surfboard Industry. I also Painted some Motorcycle tanks a Helmet or two and Did some murals. It was fun work. I now do fine art Landscape painting. When I read this post I thought why not dig out my old gun and paint a ski helmet? By the way I'm not offering my services . I have been away from the Airbrush to long. Besides I got burnt out on working for customers who wanted me to do it their way. My advice is find an artist that you like. Then give that artist an idea of what you want. Then let the Artist do his or her work. Speaking of work I need to get back to work.
post #19 of 22
John,
A friend of mine on the US Disabled team had his race helmet painted for the Paralympics by Nubs Graphics back east. They are the guys who do a lot of the paint for the American Chopper show on Discovery. The paint job was incredible.
Have fun
post #20 of 22
Check with Dave at Snowshack.com - I skied with him one day and he had a custom paint job on his Boeri - I remember asking him about it, but can't remember who did it, but it wasn't outrageous expensive. I was going to have my (then) Briko done, but never got around to it. I think you can get a hold of him by emailing customer service from the Snowshack site (Epic sponsor below)
post #21 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the input, folks. Lots of good info here.
post #22 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thought I'd follow up on this.

Although I do think I should get a new helmet because of the impact I had at the end of last season, I decided not to pursue this for now. This was going to be my 40th b-day present from my wife. While it was a good idea, the search for a helmet and painter was not going well, so I decided on better option for my 40th b-day, which will have a more noticable benefit for my skiing, as well as bike riding, daily living, etc....

This past friday I had my eyes reconfigured (LASIK - kind of like airbrushing the eyes, right???). Okay, SLIGHTLY : more expensive than a custom painted helmet, but a much bigger return on my investment. Life without glasses ROCKS! And now, when I put on my ski goggles, I won't have to deal with that stupid Rx insert, which I will gladly send off to some needy person for the cost of shipping (I'll start a new thread)
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