As we get started on 2011, a lot of things have happened over the last 12 months at JLF Designs. The helmet painting industry has been moving at an amazing pace and lots of new styles have emerged and even though I’ve been painting for 20 years, I have enjoyed my work more than ever thanks to some great projects with drivers such as Lewis Hamilton, Dan Wheldon and E.J. Viso who always brings us designs that are a challenge – and I love a challenge!
Posts Tagged ‘ Jason Fowler ’
The designs come from his cousin Juan Carlos in Milan and this is the information we work from on all of EJs’ helmets. We try to keep to the original concept as closely as possible, but we have the final say on colors, effects, etc. as designs often evolve along the painting process. As a helmet progresses we often think of additional touches and paint techniques that will enhance Juan Carlos’s designs.
The first step is to prep & primer-coat the helmet surface, so that the paint will key to the shell and stand up to the battering the helmets take during a race. Each section of the design is masked off and the colors are then airbrushed in one at a time.
The workshop at JLF Designs has been as busy as ever with more IndyCar helmets being painted for Dan Wheldon and E.J. Viso. Two helmets have been recently painted for Dan with one featuring a design combining his main sponsors NOS energy drink and National Guard which has a camo design which is very time-consuming to paint! Each of the tiny blocks is laid on as masks so that the next color can be sprayed over the top and the process is repeated until all three colours are done. Then it can take over an hour just for the masks to be removed. There are no short-cuts in helmet paintwork!
“EJ Viso is a long-time friend and customer of the team at JLF Designs and likes to use different themes for his helmet designs which relate to the track the helmet will be used at. His cousin Juanco is a designer working in Milan, Italy and he comes up with the ideas for the designs which we then translate into the painted artwork.
For the Canada races, EJ wanted a design that reflected the nature of the venues from a completely different perspective so Juanco went to work on some ideas and came up with a design featuring the Canadian Danaus Plexippus butterfly. Here’s his explanation of the inspiration behind the design:
Juanco:“Danaus plexippus / evolution baby: this precise family of butterfly is the National insect of Canada, that’s why we thought it would blend perfect on the Canadian scene. After all, to win, one has to move fast and alert on rainy Toronto and almost fly over the bumpy and tricky tracks of Edmonton…As a final detail we added the caterpillar that curls shaping the number 8…good metaphor for EJ’s Indy career evolution…”
We set to work on the paintwork and the task of making the Butterfly fit the helmet shape without too much distortion. As the colours went on it became obvious that the solid shapes of the original design looked a little flat and not very lifelike so I used some rough airbrush texturing to give the colours a soft transition between the colours. Then when the paintwork was finished I used a gloss base for the white and a matt finish for the butterfly to give a contrast between the two, and to give the butterfly the soft, powdery look they have.
Welcome to my first blog post! The past couple of weeks have been pretty hectic with some special designs being produced for some of our drivers. Here are some pictures of Lewis Hamilton’s helmet for the British F1 GP which featured Union Jack flags and a Grenada flag to celebrate his family’s Caribbean heritage.
The iconic Lotus yellow stripes atop the helmet worn by Takuma Sato in the Indianapolis 500 accentuated the side panel images of his No. 5 Lotus-KV Racing Technology car and the ’65 Indy-winning Lotus 38 driven by Jim Clark.
Jason Fowler of England devoted 45 hours to creating the one-off piece with the aid of a computer and steady hand with an air brush. Obviously, as the corresponding video details, there’s a lot more that goes into it.
“I was really pleased with how the helmet looked as it was a challenge fitting the detailed airbrush pictures into such a small area,” Fowler said in a phone interview from his London headquarters. “We were also working against the clock as the helmet was only commissioned a few weeks before the race so there were quite a few late nights worked to make sure it was finished in time.”
“The helmet seemed to work well from both angles; the airbrushed pictures gave it the ‘Wow!’ factor and the classic Lotus stripes were still visible from a distance.”
Fowler, who used to customize his helmets with stickers and paint while racing motorcross in the early ‘80s and paint helmets for friends, left his day job to start his own business customizing helmets. Dan Wheldon, E.J. Viso and Lewis Hamilton are among his longtime clients.
“I had wanted to go to the Indy 500 for many years and finally got to go this year,” he said. “It was the best motor racing experience I have ever had, and I was amazed at the scale of the event. More than anything, I was impressed with the atmosphere and the accessibility of the whole event and the way the fans were encouraged to be integral to the race.”
“I had three drivers wearing our helmets in the race (Wheldon, Viso and Sato) and it was a really proud feeling to be just a small part of such an iconic race. I’m definitely coming back next year.”