One of the best things about social media is crossing paths with ChopCult member Rob Hudnut, known to most as Cycle Monster. Rob illustrates detailed how-to techs for everyone to enjoy and use as a valuable resource. He's also a very talented painter and leather craftsman. Please take a moment to get to meet the genius behind Cycle Monster.
Name: Rob Hudnut
ChopCult profile name: "Merlins Beard" but I've never posted anything. I mainly just read the build threads.
Current location: Portland, OR
Tell us a little bit about yourself: Where did it all start? My folks were heavy into the British/Italian motorcycle scene before my older brother and I were born. My dad rode a bike to work every day into his 50's: BSAs, Nortons, Triumphs, MotoGuzzis,etc. My mom and dad would ride double up, with matching Langlitz Leather gear, and head out on many long-distance rides while we stayed at grandma's house. My dad was also into customizing old cars and drove a '51 Ford coupe to work when he wasn't on his bike. We didn't spend much time playing catch in the yard, but we spent a lot of time in the garage together. My brother and I had always been artistic. Over the years, I have become a jack of all trades in the garage, having many bikes of my own and a '53 Belair. One day I decided to draw about the things I had learned, and here we are with some fun how-to DIY's!
When do you feel that art became a vital part of your life? My folks noticed I had artistic skill when I was very young. I would paint banners for school and draw puzzles for the kids in class. In high school, I worked for a small airbrush studio and started my own little business called Raw-B Grafix and sold custom clothes to kids in school. Then I went to art college in Seattle and, after graduating, I worked for Sierra Studios. I was a 3-D Level Designer for one of the biggest video game publishers at that time. They were known for big titles like Half-Life, S.W.A.T. and others. Then, 9-11 hit, and the entertainment industry took a nosedive. So I picked up motorcycles, custom cars, metal flake paint, pinstriping, gold leafing, lettering, and so on. I was featured in Car Kulture Deluxe mag for my monster-style car paintings. I started making t-shirts called Monster Hotrods with original artwork. After that, my brother and I silkscreened our shirts and shop rags with new designs called Hudnut Bros. Along the way, I picked up leatherworking and upholstery and really enjoyed learning something new!
Who were your influences growing up? CARtoons magazine (Krass and Bernie), MAD magazine, Rat Fink, Archie comics, and classic horror comics like Swamp Thing or Ghost Rider. I never got into the superhero stuff, although the old '80's Hulk TV show was cool. I would mainly read comics to pick up on the details on how they framed each scene or used shading. I enjoy lettering, penmanship, and fonts. I would try to copy their styles and write like them. My dad was a mechanical engineer. When I was young, I would watch him hand-draw blueprints, writing in all caps and using the 'S' shaped arrows. Those kinds of drawing techniques and styles have stuck with me.
What artists inspire you daily? I don't have any artists that I follow. I reflect on my influences from when I was a kid, reading CARtoon, MAD, or Archie. Those artistic styles and humor have stuck with me my whole life. I would pick up on certain things I liked and use it. The way Archie comics would draw folds in clothing or draw hands. Krass and Bernie how they would shade tires or detail chrome. MAD for the humor and variety of dialog bubbles. Rat Fink for the arching cars, flaming headers, and monsters. The list goes on! I've used the things I've liked from all of them and have been drawing with a mix of styles. It just works for me and it’s fun. I want to feel as if my ideas are coming from my own creativity and the styles are influenced by the comics of my youth.
When did Cycle Monster come about? The name was born on Instagram sometime in 2014. My brother (the.cursed.tiki) kept telling me how cool IG was and that I should share some of my builds and artwork on there like he was. He is an artist too and designs tiki mugs and artwork. The name just kind of fit with what I was doing at the time and it's been super cool. I've met a lot of awesome people and made some close friends along the way!
I must admit that I became an instant fan of your How To's and DIY drawings on Instagram. When did you decide to start putting these together? I was showing a buddy the lollipop baffle design I came up with, and he said I should write up a how-to. I had already posted a step-by-step on my IG when I made them, using photos, but thought drawing it up would be fun. After I got some positive replies from that one, I thought about all the topics I could cover as how-to drawings and just started writing them down. Since then, I have bags of ideas for how-to stuff. Once my chopper ideas are all drawn up, I'll move over to hot rods and customs, engines, drive train, etc. I focus my how-to's on the average guy with average tools and average skills. I think it may help out the beginner and may make the experienced guy smile. I try to include useful, real-world info that you may not find in the manual. But really, it's just for laughs! I'll always include some humor, monsters, and of course, the spider and fly!
When did motorcycles enter your life? Around 4th grade my dad took the fam to the 1983(?) motorcycle exhibit, showcasing the new bikes for sale that year. I saw a kid-size yellow Yamaha dirt bike. Now, this wasn't the dorky toddler style with mag wheels and weird tires. This looked just like a full size, except it was "Honey, I shrunk the kids" size, with real spoke wheels and knobbies! And it was made just for ME! I guess my dad had to pry my vice-grip hands off the grips while I was crying and blubbering "NOOO!!" The salesman got a kick out of it, haha! The next year my dad found an old 1975 Honda XL75 dirt bike, and he taught my brother and I how to ride. In 2008 I bought my first street bike, a 2003 883 Sportster. I was slow to change anything because it was flawless and low miles. But, with a strong customizing bug (thanks Dad!), nothing stays stock for very long. I finally flaked it lime green and lettered "Hard Luck" on the tank along with many, many other changes. I rode that bike nearly year-round for 5+ years. I rode double up out to Mt. Hood and many long trips, the 883 never complained. I've had two other Harleys since then.
What type of motorcycle do you currently own? My latest is called "Merlin’s Beard." It's a 1996 1200 Sporty hardtail springer. It's a Hammer in Hand hardtail with a 4" stretch and 2" drop. MotoIron -2" springer, Coker rear, Allstate front, MotoIron 16" & 19" wheels, Mustang tank, 1940's (?) fog light, Lowbrow rear fender, Lowbrow Z'ed bars, TC Bros oil tank, 530 chain, 45 tooth rear sprocket, 23 tooth front sprocket (still snappy off the line, but low revs on highway). I do all my own work like welding, fabrication, exhaust, paint, pinstriping, leatherwork, upholstery, electrical, etc. I hand made the sissy bar, battery box, stainless steel exhaust, rear brake caliper mount, electrical box, king/queen seat with side stash access, dragon/castle resin taillight made from a figurine mold and other stuff.
If you could choose one stretch of road to ride upon, which would it be and why? I think any smooth back country road out in the sticks would be perfect. Checkin' out the scenery, all the green trees, blue sky, little farmhouses, and old cars. Cuttin' through the wind with the smells of summer and the sound of my pipes in top gear… as long as you have that, it could be any road in the world!
How long have you been painting motorcycles? I have painted motorcycles and cars for a few years now. But only for myself and my family. I've painted some things for friends, but not much. I don't want the concerns of painting on anyone else's ride because I'm not a pro. My paintwork is good enough for myself and friends, but I've had to learn a lot through all the mistakes. I envy the car/bike painters out there; they're able to turn out some outstanding results! But I do enjoy learning new things. I taught myself how to pinstripe years ago and just recently picked up gold leafing. I'm not a pro at either, but I'm getting better.
When did you start doing leatherwork? Leatherworking is just another skill that I wanted to try. About eight years ago I needed a way to hold my cellphone to my belt and didn't want to buy an expensive holder. So I went to the local leather shop and picked up some supplies. The first attempt was pretty crude, but I kept reworking the design and visiting the leather shop. Before I knew it, I was buying leatherworking tools and figuring out staining techniques and stitching styles. It's a really cool craft to learn because the quality I put into my items will ensure they outlast the person using it. I'm kicking around some leather ideas to offer on my site once it's open.
Do you have anything in the works that would interest our community? In addition to the how-to's and posters, I'd like to offer some decals, and maybe some old school t-shirt iron-ons like you'd find in the center of old magazines! Due to the overwhelmingly positive feedback of my how-to's and drawings, I'll be looking for a publisher to create a book soon as well. People seem to really enjoy them and have voiced interest in a book. I've never made a book before, but that's not going to stop me! If anyone knows of a good publisher, I'm all ears!
What do you consider a perfect day? Wow! I have way too many ideas that would fit that description! A perfect bike day would be kind of like my IG saying, "Full tank… Clear skies… Smooth roads". If I wasn't on the bike, it could be a day out in the garage with a beer, some tunes, and working on a fun project. Maybe it's just sitting down with a rum and coke and drawing some killer artwork. But, every day is perfect when it's with my awesome girlfriend and best friend, Katherine.
Would you like to thank anyone? Hell yes! I appreciate the chopper community! Without YOUR rad comments, positive feedback and requesting more of my art, this interview wouldn't be happening. And thanks to ChopCult for even noticing me. Especially now with so much social media, it's not that often an artist gets noticed, so thank you for being kick ass!
How can our readers see more of your work? They can go to cycle-monster-art.com and check out the site. It will be open for business very soon. Or they can hang on IG and follow me for more stuff in the future!