Artwork by Franny Drummond, owner of Paint Zoo Studios.
Photo by Franny Drummond

Blood, Sweat and Paint: Q & A With Custom Painter Franny Drummond

Franny Drummond’s passion for cars, motorcycles, hot rods and hockey makes this artist the ideal badass to spotlight in Skillset Magazine. What started as a creative outlet for Franny quickly grew into a world-renowned paint studio where elite athletes and industry icons line up to have this Pennsylvania native work his magic. 

Franny Drummond at work.

Skillset: So, the obvious question is how did you get started painting?

Franny Drummond: I started painting when I graduated from college in 1994. I began painting surfboards and T-shirts in Cocoa Beach, Florida. Then, I moved up north to Philadelphia and got into bikes, helmets and hot rods. 

SS: Who were the big influences who inspired your style?

FD: My huge influences in the industry are Pete Finlan (Hot Dog Kustoms), my good friend Jim Pendergast (JP Graphix), Craig Fraser and Javier Soto. I learn from so many different styles. I am a huge fan of art. 

SS: When did you know you were able to make a living from your painting skills?

FD: It was in the late 90s, when I was doing a few helmets here and there. I had a part-time job, and, all of a sudden, more helmet requests started to come in. At that point, I decided to start my company, Paint Zoo Studios.

SS: What are your ideal work conditions like? Loud music in the background or just painting away in solitude? 

FD: My ideal work conditions are probably like many other painters—after hours and alone. That way I can just concentrate and focus on what I love to do. As far as music goes, it depends on the day. I go from heavy to punk to just some Bob Marley. (Laughs.)

Custom motorcycle artwork by Paint Zoo Studios.

SS: Deadlines are huge in the world of custom bikes. Do you work better under pressure?

FD: Deadlines are a weekly thing in our shop. We deal with everything from major universities to NHL teams to individual clients. We always try our best to be on time, but it is tough when your art brain takes over and you see something that will make a project better. I do work better under pressure, but I hate the stress. It’s nice when a client gives you plenty of time to get creative and produce something kickass.  

SS: Speaking of tight deadlines, let’s talk about the NHL goalie helmets. I bet it gets busy around playoff time?

FD: NHL deadlines are pretty tough. We usually get masks during summer, which gives us plenty of time to create. However, sometimes they need special ones done, like for the Winter Classic, so we end up burning the midnight oil to get everything completed. 

Goalie artwork from Franny Drummond.

SS: Are there any projects you have done over your long career that are near and dear to your heart?

FD: One project that came up in 2010 was definitely dear to my heart. We got a mask at the last minute from the Philadelphia Flyers for the Winter Classic. Both their goalies got hurt four days before the game, and we got a request from a goalie named Michael Leighton. He and I became great friends throughout the process. He took Philly two games from winning the Stanley Cup. During that run, my wife was pregnant with our son, and we made a pact that if we made it to the finals, we would name him Leighton. He is eight now, and I love him to death. Michael and I are still great friends, and I still paint for him to this day. 

SS: Finally, do you have any advice for our readers about forging their own paths in the world?

FD: I would definitely love readers to know that I come from a military family where I learned to work hard and stay humble. I grind everyday and love what I do. Although it sounds cliché, always follow your dreams. I tell my kids that every chance I get. You can do or be anything—just work hard and be you!

If you want to learn more about artists living the “alpha lifestyle” like Franny Drummond, check out our podcast Skillset Live! You can also pick up a back issue of our magazine at OutdoorGroupStore.com.

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