Tales of a Traveling Airbrush

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May 282014
Dave "Letterfly" Knoderer

Dave “Letterfly” Knoderer

“The smartest thing I ever did was join the circus!”  This decision launched a teenager into a prolific, itinerant career.

The musician/artist Dave “Letterfly” Knoderer found expression as a show drummer accenting the efforts of the aerialists, performers and artistes, elevating the experience of the patrons in this fast-paced, uniquely American lifestyle as well as plying skills with paint and brush to decorate the fleet with his emerging style. Being part of this distinct entertainment experience provided skills that morphed into the relentless venture of creativity that continues to this day.

While drumming under the big top lead to a fascination with animal training, soon Dave was performing with horses, starting with multiple animal liberty presentations and then graduating to classic horsemanship with a specific interest in the discipline of “Haute E’cole.” As levels of finesse were accomplished with his equine dance partners, parallel interesting developments showed up in the pinstriping, airbrushing and graphic work that financed this quest. As the evolution of entertainment grew to exclude horses, the demand for his unique style of artwork expanded and travel to serve a growing list of clients remained one of the constants in his lifestyle.

Letterfly Custom Pin-stripping

Letterfly Custom Pinstripping

The delicate nature of the hand painted pinline design is the result of years of practice and developing finesse with the ungainly, specialized brush. The creation of each motif is an exercise in playful meditation where the process becomes like play and the artist opens himself up to possibilities as each stroke occurs, only to reveal the intention as the last connecting stroke is made. The collection of hand painted artwork, photographs, posters, signs, cartoons ad painted panels with intricate pinline designs showcase the varied and interesting career of the artist/entertainer. Many designs have electrical qualities with an ever present energy as the circuitous lines are connected, overlapped, mirrored and finally, with the last stroke, become ready to contemplate.


Today “Have brush will travel” serves customer oriented Harley-Davidson stores, works on various mural and high quality paint projects and attends bike and RV events to create quality art on motorcycles, motor homes, hot rods and other modes of moving fast. Traditional brush painted pinstripe designs, pin-up girls, pictorials, inscriptions, pets, portraits and custom images of all kinds are produced on the spot, in various locations, all across the nation.  Letterfly clearly qualifies as an old school/renaissance man.

Apprenticing the sign painting trade, he learned design layout formulas and became intimate with letterforms, pin-striping and wet-blended pictorial painting as his skills with the brush developed. With a penchant for adventure, the young artist soon became involved with painting theatrical sets, amusement park and fairground d’cor, antique fire engine gilding and restoration, along with creating conventional, hand lettered signage and award winning storefront d’cor.

As sign making began to go the way of the computer three decades ago, Letterfly found a niche airbrushing high quality murals on the backs of motor homes.  One such project, an eagle flying over a scenic view of the Rocky Mountains was for a Harley-Davidson store owner who soon after, also commissioned murals inside and out at his motorcycle dealership.  The episode lead to other similar projects.  While in the proximity of bikers it became impossible for Dave to avoid the relentless requests for delicate pinline designs that personalize, individualize and distinguish their bike from the rest.

Perhaps the most amazing feature of this artist is the uncanny ability to visualize, develop and create images that have never been done before, along with the wide variety of styles of pinline designs, his oneness with eagles, wolves, horses, feathers, flames and countless other icons that make up the mainstay of his work.

During the winter months, extensive paint jobs on an endless variety of interesting things takes place at his home/studio/paint shop called ArtPark, in Florida. When it’s cold up north, motorcycle enthusiasts dismantle their bikes and ship the pieces to Letterfly for intricate design work, over all custom repaints and spectacular paint jobs that showcase his vast repertoire.  When RVers head to Florida during the winter, they visit ArtPark to get a custom designed airbrushed mural on the back of their motor home, a portrait of their pet on the entry door, some graphic shapes on their tow-car that resemble the design on the coach, a monogram, special inscription or any number of one-of-a-kind images that the artist conjures up just for them.  Lush garden pathways connect the shop, studio, RV parking and gallery situated in a quiet oak hammock that is a haven for creativity and a destination for RVers and bikers alike.

During the spring, summer and fall the artist is on location at customer dedicated Harley-Davidson stores, hot rod shows, bike events and working on various projects throughout the country.  The route is posted on a blog; www.Letterfly.com so you can find out when the artist is going to be near you.

No matter what sort of wheeled machine you have; touring bike, motor home, automobile, hot rod, motorcycle or even a guitar, fanciful artwork, colorful swoops, hand lettered inscriptions, a full fledged mural or a mini portrait, gold leaf gilding and the old school hand painted pinstriping that he is famous for, the finishing touch will personalize your rig and make “looking good” a reality and traveling down the road more fun.


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Viking BagsMotorcycle Saddlebags: Why we Claim that Viking bags and Luggage are the Best

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