Best Built Customs
What’s up, Gnarly Readers!
My name is Shannon Best, owner/operator of Best Built Customs. I specialize in one-off custom paint jobs and airbrushing, but also do fabrication, welding, body work, upholstery, and whatever else it takes to deliver a one of a kind job for my customers. I have been working in the automotive industry since 1990, starting out with detailing. I moved quickly into mechanical during my high school years working afternoons and weekends and then went to the University of Hawaii, Maui campus, to study auto-body repair and painting.
Once I established myself as an automotive painter, I began looking into setting some of my paintwork apart from the rest and began airbrushing little by little on anyone’s vehicle that I was painting. There was almost no information out at that time in the late 90s. Eventually, I moved to Michigan in search of better jobs and a less expensive place to live and raise a family. I quickly landed a job at a Cadillac dealership, bought my first home and began building full custom jobs. Mini trucks, hot rods, classics, choppers, baggers, lawn mowers, and pretty much anything people would bring me, I would rock out my best work at the time.
Over the years I have built many award-winning rides and had the pleasure of meeting many of today’s premier builders, and some of the old school ones, too. Now I focus mostly on motorcycles of all styles and have many customers all by word of mouth. I also committed to work as a full-time paint technical representative for an expanding platinum PPG paint distributor, and have been fortunate enough to have some of my artwork displayed at SEMA in the PPG booth for the past 4 years amongst all of the top industry painters and artists. You can see some of my work pop up in magazines from time to time, paint competitions, or check out my pages on Facebook: (Shannon Ray Best) (Bestbuiltcustoms) or on Instagram: @Bestbuiltcustoms.
I always share step-by-step pics of my projects and usually post videos on YouTube. My channel is bestbuilt1000. Feel free to contact me if you need advice or if you're looking for tips. Thank you.
Q&A with Shannon Best
GNARLY: Which award are you most proud of? Does that match up with the project that you’re most proud of?
SHANNON: I would say the award I am most proud of was a 3rd place award in the radical modified pro street class at the Detroit Autorama 2006. It was the first time I had a major show award, and I was able to meet some of the top builders such as Chip Foose, Charlie Hutton, George Barris, and a few others. This was also a turning point where others started to see my determination. This award was great but the job I am most proud of to date is my current build.
What do you find is the most enjoyable part of your job? And, on the flip side, what aspect is the most difficult?
The part I find most enjoyable is the detailing portion of my art. I get super OCD and want to push as much detail as my airbrush can produce. This leads to your next question on the difficult parts of my job and that is time management.
Talk about your Blue Collar Dreams hood painting. How many hours do you have in it and did you pull your hair out airbrushing all of those NYC buildings?
So the Blue Collar Dreams trunk lid was by far the longest time I have spent on one mural to date. I did it for a friend and previous co-worker on his ‘93 Cadillac and spent roughly 300 hours on the 2-foot x 3-foot scene. I used only one toner color for the job and it was a challenge to accomplish all of the visual differences from clothing to bare skin using just the one toner. Believe it or not, the buildings were the easiest part of the mural.
How do you handle clients with really bad painting ideas?
My approach to working with customers with bad paint ideas is to gather as much info from them, listen carefully, and keep an open line of communication. Sometimes they just have an idea and I try to bounce suggestions back and forth with them. As a worst case, I will make a test panel with the choices they made and one with my ideas. This rarely happens for me these days as most of my clients are word of mouth or have seen my work somewhere and trust my perspective.
Any micromanage clients? How do you deal with them?
Honestly, I think all of my customers at some point try to micromanage, but I try very hard to have frequent updates and open lines of communication. If they want to change something, this helps as they can give me their input as I am working on an image that day.
Would you say that you’re still learning?
If someone in the field of custom paint claims he is not learning or trying to learn more, that person should do our industry a favor and put away whatever paint tools they own and close shop. You will learn daily whether from mistakes, or success. I really have been pushing myself to reach a nice level of realism in my work and have been gathering articles from all of the best. I have been studying many great tattoo artists as well for the way they can blend different images together so seamlessly. It really helps with mural composition in my opinion. I have also been studying late Victorian art for the use of ornamental filigree and scrolls and some of the old ways of incorporating images into various designs.
What airbrush artists should the Gnarly readers be following right now?
So to answer who readers should be following is easy. Everyone with the Internet has seen all of the elite, highly promoted or sponsored artists. The sad part is most of them, not all, never encourage the newer or rising artist. They promote getaways and only seem to like or share other elite artist work. I feel there are so many talented artists out there that don’t get as heavily promoted such as Brian Horstmann, Verrick Falcon, Aaron Gonzalez, Ardy Jo, Dale Flewelling, Eddie Zacharek, Kevin Burdick, Jeff Chamberlain, Chad Kidder, Jerry Kranzler, John A. Gates just to name a few.
What advice would you give to the up and coming airbrush artists?
The best advice I can give is to be patient, practice all the time, buy the best equipment, never give up, use whatever tools you need to get the look you are after. Look to others for advice and listen to criticism, remain humble, and try to find your style. Paint things you enjoy and it will never get boring.
Follow Shannon online...