MIXED ME­DIA BAG­GER

Andy DeJong’s Un­con­ven­tional Cool Bag­ger

Baggers - - CONTENTS - WORDS: JOE MOR­RIS PHO­TOS: DON KATES

Andy DeJong’s Un­con­ven­tional Cool Bag­ger

My name is Joe Mor­ris, and I’m an artist based in Chicago. I paint bikes in themes with a style like no other, which started as an ac­ci­dent. I’m a mixed me­dia artist by trade and mo­tor­head through and through. One day work­ing on a paint­ing I started star­ing at a hole I had on my rear Sporty fender. I hit a nasty pot­hole on Lake Street that ba­si­cally ripped the light mount right off. At the time I had an im­age of a pinup girl cutout in my hand that I was go­ing to use on a new can­vas when I de­cided to use it on the rear fender. It cov­ered up the hole just right… And then a light bulb went off. I used a lot of col­lage ele­ments in my work, as well as lay­ered paint, and be­gan adding more and more to the fender. I rode it to town the next day af­ter the clear lac­quer dried, and ev­ery­one who saw it said I should do the whole bike like that fender.

It’s been four years and about a dozen bikes and a few hot rods later. I got an email from Andy DeJong who has seen my work and de­cided he wanted to drop his bike off on the way back from Sturgis a few years ago. I was pumped be­cause he had a Street Glide, which would make this my sec­ond Street Glide paint job—more can­vas to show­case more at­ti­tude. When Andy pulled up to my garage stu­dio he saw a paint­ing I did of for­mer Pan­tera front­man, Phil Anselmo, and he said he wanted his bike to look just like that!

I men­tioned to Andy that my fa­vorite band is Down from New Or­leans, which Phil also fronts. I also told him that I’m a huge fan of the New Or­leans heavy-metal scene. Phil has a record­ing stu­dio in the swamp­land called Nöd­fer­atu’s Lair, and I knew right away that the theme was go­ing to be about one of the most badass record­ing stu­dios in heavy mu­sic. The out­side of it is ba­si­cally an old barn with the sign “Nöd­fer­atu’s Lair” over the barn­style doors. I was then ob­sessed with mak­ing the bike feel like this stu­dio from the out­side to the in­side.

I be­came Face­book friends with Down’s pho­tog­ra­pher Joseph Dorignac and stud­ied all the images from in­side and out of the Lair. I stud­ied Phil’s writ­ing on the walls with the dark, salty vibe, I re­searched all the bands that have played there, and I watched doc­u­men­taries on the NOLA scene. On the right sad­dle­bag I ded­i­cated it to Dime­bag Dar­rell of Pan­tera who was killed on stage. His fa­mous drink is called the Black Tooth Grin: two parts Sea­gram’s Seven Crown, two parts Crown Royal, and a splash of Coke. I then added Down gui­tarist Pep­per Keenan’s bar logo over the top. He owns a bar in New Or­leans and fur­ther brings the NOLA scene theme to life.

I kept the pho­tog­ra­pher in the loop on what I was do­ing and sent him pho­tos when I was done. He was blown away and said he is send­ing the pho­tos straight to Phil. Within about 20 min­utes—as I sat on my deck drink­ing a cold one—I get a mes­sage back from Joseph with Phil say­ing, “Wow! That is crazy awe­some! Tell that moth­erf—ker, ‘Right on!’ from me!”

I couldn’t be­lieve it. Not only did I have a client who let me go off on his bag­ger, but I ac­tu­ally got the ap­proval from the band the bike was in­spired by. Pas­sion re­ally came full cir­cle on this, and I couldn’t be more proud. I be­lieve bikes should be able to tell sto­ries. They should be works of art, folk art, and soul­ful. I don’t bash the glossy paint and air­brush be­cause I ap­pre­ci­ate all artists, but I hope that when peo­ple see my bikes they see some­thing orig­i­nal. They see art for the soul. For more info on my work, you can visit joe­mor­ris­art.com.

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