Saturday, April 3, 2010

True Fire And Why It's So Popular

My wife was telling me a story about how she was talking to someone about how I was an airbrush artist. She told this lady, who was at least into her 60's, that I painted on bikes and helmets. What she asked was "does he do fire?" This blew me away! People who aren't even into cars know about True Fire and that made me do some thinking. Why is it so popular and is it just a fad?
Mike Lavallee owns True Fire. He should, he's worked his little hunter's ass off to get there. I recently did a nice trek through the internet looking for any information I could find about the man behind the fire and really didn't find anything too detailed. I remember seeing his special on TLC or Discovery, where he painted a Ford coupe with his then, unique style. What I remember the most from that show was that he talked about the helicopter he'd flamed out. The neighbors thought it was on fire and called the fire department.
Then he was on Monster Garage. Then he got in good with Chip Foose. Then EVERYONE wanted something to do with True Fire. What that meant was Mike couldn't keep up with demand so he started putting out DVD's to teach people how to create his True Fire for themselves. He even got some stencils made by stencil God's Artool to go along with them.
What is odd is that there are some guys out there that do them better, but you'd never know there name. Why? Because Mike Lavallee was smart about it and attached his name to it while he could. He may have stumbled upon it while airbrushing something else, but he knew it wsa going to be hot (seriously, did you not see that coming?). Even when someone mimics his style, people still refer to it as Mike Lavallee True Fire. People still want his fire, because it's HIS fire.
What makes it so unique as custom paint is that, for the most part, it doesn't take any prep. I don't mean that you don't have to prep the surface. What I mean is that you don't have to do any special paint layouts. There is now pounce wheel to get them perfect on both sides like old school flames. You can sketch some basics out, but you don't really have to. After a while, you get a good feel for how they should go and because it's all freehand and shield work, it goes quick. Which makes it a viable technique to master.
I recently read on a Forum site that True Fire is going to die out. The interest hit its peak due to over saturation in the media. But that leads to the main point of this post. True Fire is so popular because it goes with just about anything. Make it green, make it blue, make it hot freaking pink, and it's still True Fire. Have some coming out of a skull's mouth, off a skull's head, put the skull in the fire, it's all gravy. Much likes skulls, they will always be popular. Much like old school flames, they will endure. These are OUR old school flames. When people look back on custom painting they will look at Mike in the same light that people look at Van Dutch. They will see the flames he made popular and the people who were able to make a living with this art technique and say, much like me, "Thanks Mike".

Here is a nice showcase of some True Fire (and some mimics):

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