Death Spray Custom is a name just as enigmatic as the work produced by the London-based artist. We’ve all seen iconic DSC images filter through the internet over the past few years and I’ve always appreciated his graphic, subversive style.
So when I heard of a mysterious, camouflaged frame that was flying around at the race hosted by Tokyo Fixed Gear, The Hunt, I decided to track down both the artist — now revealed as David Gwyther — and the bike.
Who or what is Death Spray Custom? Death Spray Custom / DSC is an identity that is used to front my adventures in surface design. It is intended to be a playful riposte to an often serious world of art, design etc.
Where did you acquire your skills? Skills as in painting? Mostly self-taught. The medium isn’t the message, the painting part is a small fraction of the process. I’d like to add I’m not a bicycle painter by any means, just an artist who likes two wheels.
What is your bicycling background? Full creationist church of two wheels; childhood BMX to adult downhill MTB, with fixed, road, mini velos, XC and cruisers all along the way.
You’ve applied paint and your style to everything from Ducati motorcycles to a Cinelli Supercorsa, jerry cans and hammers to helmets and handlebars. What’s been your favorite project so far, and why? The bonnet show Delight & Destroy was great, it was the apex of a few different influences coming together in a neat package. It’s a cliché but the project that is mid-construction is always the favorite child.
What’s the best, and worst, thing about cycling in London? The best thing is that you’re in London, it’s an amazing city with so much to offer. There are a lot of London haters that live here, but their eyes are closed. The worst thing is the cycle crime.
If the budget was not an option, what would be your dream bicycle? The Honda RN01 (below). I believe some of the transmission concepts made their way into Honda’s RCV (MotoGP) seamless gear change, where no power is lost between gear changes.
How did the ‘Flash On‘ collaboration with Eley Kishimoto and Cinelli come about? I painted Mark Eley’s flat-track motorcycle with the same FLASH design and he approached me about working with Eley Kishimoto on this project. Mark is a big fan of handmade, hand-finished craft. I would only do it if I had carte blanche and it worked out well.
The latest work we’ve seen from the DSC studio was the camouflaged track bike seen riding in The Hunt. It’s a striking frame. Can you give us an insight into the creative process? It was originally going to look completely different, I was experimenting with a technique that was, well, very experimental. It needed more time so I changed it to the camouflage design. It’s a remix of the Swedish ‘splinter’ DPM (Disruptive Pattern Material), but the yellow is neon as I didn’t want it to be like a hardcore army thing.
Mass-produced cycles tend to be symmetrical in graphic design and marked to stand out. And when you have a peloton of symmetrical and loud cycles, the one that is designed to disappear in another environment tends to stick out.
You’ve now conquered the NASCAR circuit, so what’s next for DSC? There are some really exciting big projects coming up, they’re at different levels of completion so I can’t give too much away. There may be a very limited production DSC frame that could pop up here soon.