STUART Vimpani is one very accomplished airbrush artist who built this custom bike to showcase his work. He took time out from his busy schedule to talk to Ozbike.
Ozbike: Your business, Ultimate Airbrush, has been going for a few years. Given that you paint custom bikes, is it fair to assume you have been riding bikes for some time?
Stuart: No, not really, but I love custom bikes. To me they are a sculpture, a work of art. They are awesome.
Ozbike: Apart from the painting, you actually ‘built’ the blue bike we have just photographed so you must have some mechanical skills.
Stuart: I am a spray-painter by trade and I have done panel beating. Because I work in the bike building industry, I have been watching what was being built for some time, and when I started to design this one, I took ideas from everything I’d seen and put it all together.
I bought a roller and then designed all the tin-work. I made it all out of cardboard templates and then cut the steel to shape.
Shifter at Andersons Custom Cycles helped me with the machining, especially with the swingarm and back hub—without his experience in how things line up I would have been in the dark—and Jamie helped with the pipes.
The back wheel is a 250. At the time that was a big wheel, and although you now have 300’s and 360’s, I like the 250 because looking at the bike from the back, it has a really nice shape.
Ozbike: Do you make much money painting other people’s bikes?
Stuart: It’s not about making money; it’s about the passion. The best thing at the end of day is seeing the customer’s face, seeing how proud they are to be riding that bike, and knowing I was part of the magic.
Although, I must say, I often see very nice custom bikes at shows and featured in magazines and the painter is hardly ever mentioned. The story goes on about what pistons and spokes it has, but all the hard work and effort that the painter puts in is never recognised.
My hat goes off to anybody who is actually out giving spray-painting a go. The money is not the best but the feeling you get afterwards—that’s worth every cent.
Ozbike: You run airbrushing courses for budding artists at Ultimate Airbrush. Aren’t you creating competition for yourself?
Stuart: I teach people how to airbrush and do the type of work I do because not many people show you all the secrets. They claim to show you but the end result is in the work itself.
I do create a little bit of competition but competition is healthy—it broadens the industry and allows people to have more choice because not everybody likes my work even though I can diversify and do a lot of different things. When I was starting out I found it very hard to find somebody to teach me so now I like to help people get started.
I’M A Gold Coast girl. I’ve been living on the Gold Coast for about 12 years. I moved up with my family.
I’m a professional performer. I do burlesque performances. I work at Dracula’s in Surfers Paradise and I’ve been there for a while, but the performances I do are mostly at bars and clubs, whoever will take me, who will pay to put me on stage.
The 1940’s are my favourite performance wardrobes—but it’s all when I get down to a g-string and then pour a bottle of champagne over myself and the audience and have a good laugh.
I do like to have a laugh. I am a bit of a comedian. I just don’t see the point in being serious all the time really.
My mum and her fiancé both have a bike and I have been working around them for a while.
I have another spread coming up soon in Picture. I just want to get as many modelling gigs as I can and really enjoy myself. I’m heading overseas next year so hopefully I can get some modelling gigs over there as well.
studio photos by Walter Wall; words by Stuart Vimpani.