March 21, 2010

You’re Gonna Nub This!

An Interview with ‘Nub’ of Nub Grafix

Part 1 of 2 (link to Part 2)
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Sometimes people ask me how I get my inspirations for the artists and designers I feature in my blogs. Well, there are lots of ways really. First of all, just like any other self-respecting blogger (+/-), quite a few of my leads have come via other blogs or even magazine articles I run across. Occasionally, I’ll also get lucky and meet someone face-to-face or even see their work first-hand. And sometimes even the inspiration comes from unexpected angles.

This was the case of this week’s featured article (well, I say, ‘this week’s article’ in the hopes that no one will notice I’ve not been keeping up with my publication schedule since about Christmas time ‘09). You see, recently I was trying to explain my interest in the field that I blog about to my 9-point-63 year-old son (he wants me to go ahead say ‘10’, but I’m far too young to have a 10-year old son... riiiiight). I was taking him through many of my favorite articles and explaining at least what I found so fascinating about each one: here was one featuring an amazing illustrator; another combining design and even engineering know-how; an American sculptor that does work bigger than our house; an amazing lady that makes light dance like the wind; a talented couple who live just in the next village; and even a group of fun-loving Spaniards that use of all things BIC pens and skateboards in their designs.

I thought that would get a rise out of, um, Ziggy Jr. but he just stood there frowning and deep in concentration. So I asked him, what was wrong? Well, with the innocence his age so deftly provides he stated in a very serious voice, ‘well, yeah Dad, all these people are really great at what they do, but...’ ‘Yes, go on’ I responded, expecting that this would eventually lead to another Talk complete with capital T.

‘Well, I was just wondering...’ Uh-oh, here it comes... ‘I was just wondering why you don’t feature anyone FAMOUS in your articles?’

This caught me slightly off-guard. But I did recover quickly and tried my best to point out that I had indeed had the great thrill and pleasure to interview some of the top people in their fields over the past years, even at least one that had insured his immortality through the iconic design of a standard milk carton. But this only elicited this further gem of youthful understanding and viewpoint: ‘Yeah, but I haven’t seen ANY of these people on TV before. I mean, why not interview that guy that paints all the cool motorcycles and stuff, you know, from the show where they always use bleeps when that old guy with the moustache uses bad words?’

And that my friends, is exactly what I did. In fact, I contacted none other than Nub of none other than Nub Grafix who has indeed become somewhat of a household name – particularly where we live since we’re still only up to Season 4 on the Discovery Channel – custom-painting ‘choppers’ for an American company (hint hint, don’t make us say the name). And not only is Nub famous in the eyes of many a beholder, especially Ziggy Jr., but he’s a fine and very well-rounded artisan as well. It’s out pleasure to bring you our interview with this gregarious and fun-loving fellow:


Hi Nub, welcome to Ziggy Nixon. First, if my Homeland Security-grade research is correct, your ‘real’ name is Robert Collard the 2nd? I’m just curious then: where did ‘Nubs’ come from (I just hope it’s PG-13, again I’m trying to get my kids to read this, too!) and how did you get lucky enough not to be hit with Junior at the end (not that I have that problem, no no)?
Thanks for the invite Ziggy.

Hm, that’s a tough question believe it or not. Funny thing about my real name is that I’ve put out so many fake ones over the years in articles and stuff, that it’s hard to dial in the correct combination.

Let’s just say you’re 1 for 2. And I’m not a Jr. either ... or a 2nd. I just thought that would be a funny addition to the name. I like to keep some aspects of myself a mystery ... or I could be totally lying again.

Truth be told though, the name Nub came about from a skit that Eddie Murphy did on Saturday Night Live. You know, when he imitated Buckwheat from the ‘Little Rascals’ as if he were all grown up and singing songs.

And as he was singing them, they were spelling them out on the bottom of the screen. The song ‘Looking for Love’ was of course ‘Wookin Pa Nub’. All I did was make a huge sticker for my car window with that on it and the name Nub just stuck with me.
Editor’s Note: As this is an essential part of American culture and could in fact help a lot of nations to understand us better, I have included the link here for your educational benefit (sorry owing to American copyright laws, embedding not allowed, so you’ll have to enjoy the old-fashioned way by clicking on this link and hoping for the best):

Well, that clears up quite a lot. Ahem, anyway, I’m always curious when I see you – or other painters work on choppers and other similar items – as to what kind of training you went through to get to where you are?
I have no formal training as far as the custom paint and airbrushing thing goes. Almost everything like this that I do was learned the ‘trial and error’ way.

I did work as an apprentice for a while in a body shop so I could become familiar with the proper steps of vehicle refinishing. But other than that my ‘education’ just involved making lots of huge mistakes and figuring out ways to get out of the mess, ha ha ha.

I've always felt that it's not only how well someone can paint that makes them a good custom painter, but also how well you can get yourself out of a paint catastrophe without having to sand everything down and start over. And to this day, I'm still coming up with new ways to test that theory. (ZN: let’s hope then that he learned that this is NOT the way to test paint viscosity! Well, at least not more than once...)

But my pin-striping, to me, improved dramatically when I started to listen and learn from all the people that I have been fortunate enough to become friends with. Some of these guys wouldn't even have to say anything; just watching them do what they do was extremely beneficial to me.

Going to pin-striping events, hanging out and talking to people that have been doing this kind of work for years, well, it’s extremely humbling. I've learned something at every single get together I have gone too.

Also, you include such fine, fine lines or details to paint sometimes, both with brush and with air. How do you stay so steady, I mean, do you like never get to drink coffee or what?
Actually, coffee is an integral part of my daily regimen. I can’t function without it!

What then motivated you to go into this business? Were you particularly inspired by custom cars or bikes, or was there another graphics aspect to your background?
Well, I started out as a sign shop. That was the trade that I had learned, so that was what I really wanted to do.

But somehow over the years, the shop evolved into doing more paintwork, and I just felt more creative working in that kind of atmosphere. It was a very easy decision for me to stop making signs and start airbrushing and painting more.

Are there any artistic avenues you’re involved with that we don’t see via Nub Grafix? Like say you’re also secretly one of the guys that get to apply the body paint to the Sports Illustrated models each year?
Well, um ... no ... do they really hire people for stuff like that? (ZN: gods, I hope so, because otherwise it’d be kind of silly of me to still send in my résumé every year...)

I’m starting to get involved with teaching custom paint workshops a little bit now. I’ve also been working on my own art that will eventually be available in print form.

I’m also working on my own cartoon/comic strip too. Before I got all wrapped up in the custom paint scene, I wanted to be a cartoonist. That’s always been in the back of my mind since I was a kid. So now I’m working to make that a reality.

Plus, I’ve recently started filming again with a production company for a new show that we have been planning for the past 2 years. So stay tuned in for that!!

What other services does Nub Grafix offer? Again, besides things mentioned in the next question (and also recently logos), the web says you offer Advertising Signs & Displays, Flags & Banners, and Advertising Flags.
That’s actually one of the downsides of the World Wide Web not having a giant ‘edit’ button. I haven’t made a sign or banner in over 10 years. But once that kind of info gets into the system, you can never get rid of it.

But seriously, I’ve seen that you paint or have painted all kinds of things – including choppers, helmets, wheelchair parts, guitars and drums and much, much more. Your web-site also indicates ‘we will paint just about anything’. With all that in mind, what has been the wildest or even most fun object you’ve painted so far?
Oh man, where do I start? I’ve painted on some strange surfaces since I started out. I painted a prosthetic leg for a customer – candy blue with gold leaf and pin-striping designs – that was a little different. It was cool, but different.

But probably the most gratifying thing I have ever painted was a truck for a teenager who had a wish placed in the Kid’s Wish Network. His name was Marshall, and he wanted his truck ‘pimped out’, that was his wish. So I called together all my contacts in the local automotive arena and we granted him his wish.
It had a huge effect on me about what really is important in life.

Continued in Part 2

All pictures, videos and other media are used with written permission of Nub Grafix, or are available in the public domain (noting copyright and other restrictions, accordingly). No further reproduction or duplication is permitted without contacting the artist directly. For further details to illustrations, commercially available pieces, and much more, please visit

1 comment:

Francesca Prescott said...

Nub and Ziggy, what a funky, colorful start to my day! Flames and skulls wouldn't really go very well with my interior (or adorning my "moyens de transports"...), but as flames and skulls go I'm really loving these. I'm a sucker for bright colours, and these are fab. Love that picture of the girl with the long brown hair in the red dress against a red background with the pale blue on the side. What is that on? A motorcycle? It's funny, but I was just enjoying that colour combination earlier today while folding/rolling some horse equipment (pale blue bandages, red saddle pad).

I love your interviews, Zigs. And you know I'm a big fan of your zestful writing.

Thanks for putting some oomph in my step on a rainy Monday morning in Switzerland!

xx Francesca