Writing the Storyboard

As far back as I can remember during my youth in France, I always had a passion for everything American custom culture (Dean’s and Brando’s movies, rock and roll, hot rods, Harleys, Von Dutch art, etc.). For example, I became the coolest kid on the block by customizing my model cars and motorcycles. I had to have my first bike stolen in the streets of Paris—an electric blue Harley-Davidson Electra Glide—to realize I was so much in love with her. I was inconsolable, heart broken, with no money to replace it. Certainly, it was the first time in my life that an inanimate object (but is it?) caused me such pain. Then, an intense big city business life in advertising prevented me from riding much until a new love, human this time, and American, of course, made me settle definitively in the US.

America became my escape route to find a new place in my life where I could merge my two passions of designing and motorcycling. Riding the big landscapes of the West made me feel like I was starring in a biker movie. Customizing for my friends was exhilarating and allowed me to access the trophy stage of the most prized bike shows at Daytona and Sturgis. Rich people liked my unusual designs, mixing pure Californian hot rod stance with European art deco details, while following a very Zen approach where simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. America always fired my dreams. Design and motorcycles forged my new professional identity: custom motorcycle designer and builder.

Illustration By Philippe Lechien. (Click image to enlarge)

My mission is to give each client’s motorcycle an added value aesthetically, technically and financially. For this, I must define a unique “motorcycle personality”. I hate improvisation. All my designs have an objective, a strategy and a justification in my eyes and the ones of my client. As an art director, I am in charge of “writing the storyboard” of the new motorcycle. All projects, simple or sophisticated, are first designed on paper—research of a theme and name, drawing of the bike under different angles, sketch and final blue prints of the custom parts, seat design, graphic research, layout and choice of colors for the paint job. It is only after client approval that, under my supervision, my team of craftsmen handles the fabrication, molding, painting and final assembly process. I am a designer loving motorcycles, rather than a biker customizing bikes. I want my custom motorcycles to be time enduring rolling pieces of art.

To design a successful custom motorcycle is to conceive it such a way that it will become both an object of intense pleasure and affection for the client and a “star” in the motorcycle world. The process of creation and customization has no visible end. It means that, probably like all true artists, I am obsessed with reaching perfection, and constantly going beyond my clients’ expectations. Trying to become both a master of design simplicity and beauty, and at the same time a master of technological complications, requires an exhausting amount of love and dedication. I never count billing hours, expecting only fairness and appreciation from my clients. This is probably the difference between a motorcycle shop doing custom work and a true custom designer and builder. I customize as much for myself as for a client ,because creating something never done before, beautiful, working better than the competition, appreciated by its owner and admired by the public at large is the greatest joy anyone can get in any profession.