The Lure of the Road Home | Born To Ride Motorcycle Magazine - Motorcycle TV, Radio, Events, News and Motorcycle Blog

The Lure of the Road Home

Published on December 10, 2021 under Dave Letterfly Knoderer
The Lure of the Road Home

“Hey Letterfly,” a voice rang out as I walked through the Lincoln Diner in Gettysburg, our favorite place for breakfast. “Remember me?” a wholesome man had a hopeful smile on his face, “you painted a design on my leg.”

I looked down and sure enough, there was an old school pinstripe design on his prosthetic leg. Yes, it’s true, Letterfly paints all kinds of stuff, not just Harleys.

This is just one of the many fond memories that Candyse and I laugh about now that we have returned from our seven-month tour of the north. We are glad to be home for the winter at our digs in a beautiful oak hammock outside of Plant City, Florida. Now that we are back at ArtPark, I can go out to the shop and begin to fabricate, paint, and make all kinds of things, sort of like one of Santa’s elves but much taller.

Now that we are home, I am being contacted by those who have been anticipating my return. One dear friend owns a circus and has already commissioned several items for me to build and decorate. Plus, many motorcycle, automobile, and hot rod owners in the area have been waiting for me so they can get some old school pinstriping, gold leaf, and hand-lettered inscriptions on their wheeled conveyances.

We really are living the dream. We get to make people happy. There’s nothing more satisfying than toiling away on an incredible bike, hot rod or even an incredible guitar with a little ungainly pinstriping brush, completely obsessed with the project at hand and looking up to see smiling faces, nods of approval and commendations that include expletives you wouldn’t want your mother to hear.

I love this life. I learned a lot about thriving on the road when I began touring with the circus as a teenager. I’ve become the guru of living an interesting life as the result. But it hasn’t always been easy. Many things began to change as the years went by while I developed my ability with a brush. I gradually morphed from a sign painter into a traveling motorcycle artist pursuing opportunities at big events.

But, like I mentioned, everything changes. Shifts in the economy, emerging prejudice in the host cities, and uncompromising organizers all contributed to the decline of these events. Good thing I knew what to do. After all, I’m an idea guy!

Rather than keep up with increasing prices to participate, having to travel long distances, and jockeying with constantly emerging rules and stipulations, we began to develop relationships with customer-dedicated Harley-Davidson dealerships who shared our hospitality mindset.

When Covid hit, we were in the right place at the right time – in a Harley-Davidson motorcycle dealership parking lot. They were suffering too. Because of mandates restricting crowds of people and events being cancelled right and left, our Harley stores welcomed us with open arms. They appreciate that we entertain their guests who watch one-of-a-kind hand painted art being created right before their very eyes. They know that pinstriping, custom pictorial images, and hand-lettered inscriptions add to the motorcycling experience, heightens pride in ownership and sets their bike apart from the rest. Plus, there was another dividend we gradually began to notice.

Without the overhead, driving nominal distances between dealerships, and keeping normal hours of operation, each project received sharp attention to detail. The result was tighter work. This pleases everyone. The Harley-Davidson store gets a value-added service to offer their guests, our leather-clad customers get better work, and we are proud to be one of the best of the old school pinstripers.

Now we get to relax and watch the campfire flicker under the stars here at ArtPark. While we gaze at the animated, hypnotic effect of the flame licks reaching for the sky, we recall stories and savor the memories of the many wonderful people we met along the road of life. We’ll do it again, that’s for sure. But in the meantime, if you want to make your bike better looking, roar on over for some hand-painted fun.

Be Good, Be Well, and Ride Safe
—Dave “Letterfly” Knoderer


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