Professional cyclocross racer Andrew Juiliano commissioned a custom helmet design from long time bike industry instigator, owner of All Hail the Black Market, artist, Bay Area stalwart, and member of the Shimano Gravel Alliance, Stevil Kinevil. With no directives, a couple of paint pens, and a $22 Lazer Aeroshell cover, Stevil set to work.
Words by Andrew Juiliano
Artwork by Stevil Kinevil
I’ve long lusted over custom painted helmets, from the snazzy full faces pounding down World Cup DH tracks to Wout Van Aert’s Red Bull-sprayed Lazer Bullet 2.0 covered in cyclocross muck. But beyond occasional group ride glory and the freak Euro podium finish, I am not the kind of champion with a $3,000 professional helmet paint job built into his contract. It’s all blue-collar racer budget for me with plane tickets to buy, petrol to purchase, cars to hire, hotels to book, and a dog to feed with whatever’s left over. But still, a fella can dream…
One day, while dreaming about wearable art that I couldn’t even begin to afford, I stumbled across the Aeroshell, a snap-on cover for turning those extra vented Lazer helmets into weatherized aero lids. And while I appreciated its practical applications, the creative possibilities of the Aeroshell sent my mind spinning. It was a smooth canvas that, for only $22, was ready to bring to life my wild artistic dreams.
These artsy-fartsy fantasies were quickly curtailed by the fact that my artistic aptitude abruptly ends once I stop banging on a keyboard. Words are my end of the line. But what I may lack in actual creative talents, I make up for with actual creative friends, which is where the story of this custom painted Aeroshell really begins.
I have known "Stevil Kinevil" in the flesh for about a year but have long admired his "alternative" style through his art website Drunkingham.com and blog All Hail the Black Market. Whether it's illustrated piles of clowns, exceptionally flexible watercolor characters, or divinely painted pooches, this man has a wild mind, brought to life by hand. Moreover, he's able to express himself on many mediums: Skateboard decks, T-shirts, stickers, shoes, Oakland parking blocks. The world is Stevil's canvas.
So, lacking talents of my own, I called him up and kindly requested if he could put some crust on my cranium.
We discussed some guidelines and negotiated subject matter, most of which is probably best left unrecorded in Internet perpetuity. But I will say we discussed the kinds of necessary ground rules to keep Stevil between the mayo and the mustard with his creative brain at the wheel.
Just for funsies, and for the sake of narrative continuity, let’s summarize the general nature of our business negotiation:
“What do you want on it?” Stevil asked.
“Whatever is in your brain!” I responded.
Then he told me what was in his brain.
We backed it off two notches and proceeded.
“What if I screw up?” He worried.
And I said, “Screw it up! It’s only a $22 Aeroshell,” before lamenting, “I hope I don’t crash and ruin it.”
To which he reassured me. "Crash away, and I'll paint you another one. As long as you ask in a sing-songy voice and keep me topped off with Pall Mall Lights and Zima…"
After hanging up the phone, I wondered what would become of the Aeroshell. What had I subjected it to, at the hands of this man? The stage was set for either the greatest piece of wearable art I would own or the biggest waste of $22 since I trusted Amazon for the last time.
Well, five days later, including the time it took the US's finest Postal Service to send the box back from Oakland, I had my answer. I giddily pulled open the package and beheld my very own custom painted Aeroshell. A Stevil dreamscape, to make my custom helmet fantasy come true.