Artist David Mann created his first painting of the motorcycle culture back in 1963. That painting, Hollywood Run, and his cool, customized 1948 panhead (which David purchased for $350) accompanied him to the Kansas City Custom Car Show. There he met Tiny, a one-percenter who became one of his best friends. Tiny sent a photograph of David’s painting to Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, the famous car customizer, father of Rat Fink and publisher of Chopper magazine. Ed bought the painting for $85 and a career was born. David did 10 more paintings for Roth.
In 1965 David went to work for Sheffer Studios in Kansas City where he met David Poole, an architectural renderer who taught him how to use the airbrush and render detailed drawings. David went on to study at the Kansas City Art Institute, further refining his craft.
In 1971 David saw his first issue of Easyriders magazine, and an ad for artists, cartoonists, and illustrators caught his eye. The publishers liked his work and he was hired to do his now famous center spreads of the biker lifestyle. His artwork illuminated issue No. 3 and has been featured in Easyriders and BIKER magazine ever since. Over the years, David Mann has become famous world-wide for his depictions of the American biker lifestyle through his amazing paintings. David Mann’s art is loved by motorcycle enthusiasts everywhere because of his uncanny knack of finding the essence of the riding experience and the lifestyle we love. His paintings derive from personal experience and his heart and honesty shows in every one of his paintings. His imagination and wit coupled with his attention to detail are hallmarks of his style, one that is wholly his own.
In the late-1970s and early-1980s, many motorcycle customizers would look at David’s paintings and then actually build the bikes that he designed. Often, David would exaggerate the rake of a bike’s frame, the length of a front end, a high sissybar, tall apehangers or wild exhaust pipes for artistic effect, and builders would actually create the bikes he had drawn. In this way David Mann had become one of the fathers of custom chopper design.
In the November 1983 issue of Easyriders, a painting by David called Ghostrider forever captured the heart of bikers all over the world. It shows a righteous chopper rider jammin’ through the desert somewhere in the southwest. Riding just off to his left and out of the biker’s sight is the ghostly spirit of a pony express rider. Something about that painting caught the imagination of a whole generation of Harley riders.
On September 11th, 2004, at 3:43 in the afternoon (the day after his 64th birthday) artist extraordinaire David Mann passed out of this dimension. He will forever be remembered as the Norman Rockwell of the biker world.