For a time, Goodeve attended the Ontario College of Art, where he deepened his understanding of structure and color, but soon found the environment too structured. "They wanted you to copy the style of others, not find your own."
CLIENTS & THE ARTISTIC PROCESS
Including those clients with some idea of what they want from the outset, Goodeve finds about 60% of his time being spent on bikes with a Gothic theme. Luckily, this is a visual language with which Goodeve is comfortable. That style now finds itself expressed on the motorcycles of his clients - a marked improvement from when he could only practice on his own. This work - which has been put to use for NHL stars Bob Probert and Tony Amonte - begins with him spending 2 or 3 hours with each client. "My goal in life is to give people the ability to express themselves through me" he says, with concept-work and preliminary sketching a big part of that process. "It's about sitting down with the client and finding out what's in their head." He speaks without even a hint of resentment about the time and effort he'll expend to get at what a client really wants, not viewing the direction as overbearing or stifling. Not only in the image but in the over-arching style and metaphor of a bike does he strive for expressing not his own feelings but those of his clients.
As a result of this, he feels his relationships with his clients are a team effort. "It is like a compromise... once they gain your trust, and see you're really willing to back off and if you sit down and connect with them philosophically, it's a lot easier to deal with each other." However, though he loves what he does, it takes so much energy to pin down what the client wants that when he gets the opportunity to paint in his free time, "It's almost like a vacation. When I paint my own stuff I go wild, I have total freedom." Furthermore, he caries the airbrush over into his own projects, offering him the opportunity to try out new ideas and techniques with only his own time and satisfaction at stake - as well as the opportunity to make the mistakes that often become folded into his ever-evolving technique.
THE CREATIVE PROCESS
Though broadly like any other kind of airbrush art, there is much of Goodeve's work that is unique to his working on motorcycles. First he'll sketch things on paper. "I try and not go into too much detail, just enough to get the idea across to the client. I save my energy for the final version, the one that goes on the tank." Then he'll sketch the design directly onto the surface, using chalk or very light lead pencil, but never oil-based, which warps the finish. Then he goes on to paint, often completely freehand, generally using masking only when there's a specific reference piece.
When Goodeve does use masking as part of his process, it is always taping off and then covering the area with paper. This is because when doing automotive or bike work, one can't use frisket - the adhesive warps the paint. Sometimes though, he'll apply frisket with the intention of introducing this flaw - it leaves the paint looking somewhat marbleized, which is sometimes desirable.
Generally, however, when he does mask he will never cut a mask directly on the surface, as this can slightly damage the tank itself. This brings to mind the important fact that a motorcycle is not only a canvas for Goodeve but a machine for the client. That this machine is propelled by a highly caustic, volatile substance contained in a tank on which Goodeve is working means he has to consider carefully the safety implications of his work. "It goes beyond your artwork. It might look good now, but if it doesn't look good down the road, the client won't be happy."
Safety-wise, there's also the question of paint. Goodeve couldn't stress enough the need for copious ventilation, and while this is the case with all airbrush work, there are also unique elements to the paint used for motorcycle work. The surface of a motorcycle, for instance, is not at all absorbent. The paint must therefore, be kept very thin if it is to adhere. This requires the air pressure to be kept low, lest the paint splatter. In addition to the physics of his work, Goodeve also prefers keeping paint thin and air pressure low, as this allows a much higher degree of lifelike detail and texture. This allows you to see the trees from the forest, and remember that the whole painting is the sum of its parts. Indeed, he will often keep a blank piece of paper next to him for testing important strokes.
In the beginning he suggests experimenting a lot with stroke and line dynamics, taking a work one stroke at a time. While this has you at first preoccupied with technique, the ultimate goal is to be able to create freely without any disconnect between the creative process in your head and the paint on the bike.
As to hardware, Goodeve feels it's most important to be sure you have an
airbrush that fits your hand and skill. He repeats the mantra of many to get the
best airbrush you can afford. But if you're looking to do work on motorcycles,
he offers the specific advice that some airbrushes are not rugged enough to
stand up to the solvent that is used in motorcycle paint. Further, as a
motorcycle lives outside, the clear coat is more rugged than with any other media of airbrush art. Compatibility of this clear coat with the paint is very important - try to go with the same brand, he suggests. Otherwise, the clear coat may irreparably warp the work you have just so painstakingly completed.
Much of Goodeve's work is on high-end custom bikes . The process begins with Goodeve and the client sitting down to develop a creative concept from the start. The client will specify the type of bike desired, including exactly what shape he wants, as all the pieces are hand-molded. He will also decide what kind of paint job he wants, which sometimes leads them to change the shape of the bike itself in order to enhance that image. For instance, on of his bikes won him the 2001 Painter of the Year at the Daytona Beach bike rally. This bike was actually re-molded to give the gas tank and other components a more aggressive, angular stance. This brought the structural impression of the very bike itself more in line with the theme of the art.
Vince Goodeve's stable of techniques is most certainly a complete one. Regardless, however, of how he realizes his vision, he's spurred on by the same impetus that is common to all artists. "It's not work... it's just an energy or an expression that comes through you" he says. "Sometimes you get to the end of the day, and it's like 'where did that come from?' and then you know you've done well." But like all artists, he's ultimately dissatisfied with his own work. "There's always an image in my head I'm striving for, and I never quite get there." We'd all love to see that image in his head.. because if it's one he's yet to achieve in his work, it's a remarkable one indeed.