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CKN Spotlight: Helmet Painters – Jungle Cat Designs


CKN Spotlight: Helmet Painters – Jungle Cat Designs

We have another Canadian helmet painter to feature! Catching up with Steve Lyons of Jungle Cat Designs, Steve took a few moments of his time chat with us. Lyons started painting helmets at the turn of the millennium and hasn’t stopped since. Living a full time creative lifestyle, he owns and operates Creative Edge Signs & Graphics as well as Edge Kart Graphics. When not working, Steve is also an avid kart racer, with some pretty impressive four-cycle accomplishments to his name over a career that spans more than 30 years.

Name: Steve Lyons
Business: Jungle Cat Designs
Painting Since: 2000
Location: Kitchener, Ontario
Number of Helmets painted (Approx): 200
Professional Athletes/Drivers: JR Fitzpatrick, Robin Buck, Hendrick Motorsports

Lyons busy working on his latest lid for a Canadian driver.

Lyons busy working on his latest lid for a Canadian driver.

What brought you into the world of helmet painting?

I have been involved in racing my whole life, and I got interested in the lettering of race cars at a young age. That led me to my sign painting and vehicle lettering profession. I started to paint a couple of my own go kart helmets using sign paint at first, then in 2000 I researched how the professionals painted helmets, painted a couple for me and a friend and they turned out well. After that I started to get requests to paint others and it has been going since then. I now own and operate Creative Edge Signs and Graphics where we do vehicle lettering, vehicle wraps and helmet painting.

Can you describe your favourite paint job?

I’m not really sure which one is my favorite paint job. I seem to always like the very last one that I did the most. But one project does still stand out in my mind. I designed and painted one of the very first set of over the wall pit crew helmets for Nascar team Hendrick Motorsports. It was for Terry Labonte’s Kellogg’s team.

What do you find that helps make your work stand out from the rest?

Attention to detail and a nice finish. The proper use of colours, clean crisp logos and artwork also makes them look clean. I use a Gerber Edge printer and it is excellent for making the decals that go under the clear for names and logos.

Are there any athletes/drivers that have up the motorsports ladder that you continue to paint for/stay in touch with?

Most of my work is for local racers. My Nascar Canada drivers I talk to on an ongoing basis.

Lyons with Tony Kanaan, Christian Fittipaldi and Rubens Barrichello at the Granja Viana 500 in 2010.

Lyons with Tony Kanaan, Christian Fittipaldi and Rubens Barrichello at the Granja Viana 500 in 2010.

Do any of your drivers offer you special perks for painting their helmets? (Ex: Trips to races, etc)

Yes, sometimes. Anything from race tickets, to letting me race their race cars and go karts.

Is there a driver that really challenges you as a painter?

I think for me every new helmet is a challenge. I have been fortunate to have great customers and seem to always work well with them for their design. I really do try and stick to what styles I am best at so that I end up with the best finished product possible.

Preference: Gloss, Matte, or Chrome finish, and why?

Gloss for sure. You can wax it and looks awesome. The gloss clear makes the colours, metallics, pearls and details stand out the best.

Do you paint anything other than helmets?

I try to just stick to painting helmets. I have painted some other special projects though. The one that definitely stands out the most is the custom built chopper that I painted. The owner built it himself, and I painted the entire bike. It turned out amazing.

JCD painted helmet for T.J. Marshall

JCD painted helmet for T.J. Marshall

Someone you would like to paint a helmet for (any era), and why?

Jeff Gordon. I have been a fan of Jeff from the time he started in Nascar. He always has had some of the coolest helmet paintjobs out there.

Where do you find inspiration to continually be creative with each helmet creation?

I find it in many ways. There are many great helmet painters out there and they inspire me. Also the customer has a lot to do with what I come up with. I listen to what they have to say, use their ideas or requests and seem to come up with designs from there.

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