Babes on Bikes: Behind the Scenes of Denim Daze & an Interview With Denis Babin

Meet the artist behind the exclusive FP helmet and motorcycle gas tank designed for our latest styling story, Denim Daze. 

There’s just something about a girl and a motorcycle. Cool, tough, provocative, beautiful… tough as nails. It always reminds me of one of my favorite Neil Young songs, “Unknown Legend”:

Somewhere on a desert highway
She rides a Harley-Davidson
Her long blonde hair
flyin’ in the wind
She’s been runnin’ half her life
The chrome and steel she rides
Collidin’ with
the very air she breathes
The air she breathes.

Ugh, it gets me every time. For our newest styling story, Denim Daze, we acquired the help of our friend Denis Babin, an artist based in Orange County, California. For the last five years, he has been custom-painting motorcycle gas tanks, specializing in making each bike feel authentically personal and exclusive to the lucky owner. Below, get to know Deni and have a look at a few sneaky behind the scenes photos from Denim Daze while you’re at it!

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Get the look: Silver Springs Embroidered Top

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Get the look: Wild Rose Suede Top, Summer of Love Hat

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What’s your backstory? When did you move to California and what brought you out here?

I am from Pennsylvania and I was in the Philadelphia Pipe Fitters Union for 15 years. I retired at 33 and moved to Southern California 5 years ago. I was painting and making motorcycles, but not as a living, until I moved to California.

What got you into art? Have you always been interested in it?

I love art like everyone else but was never into painting or drawing. I just love motorcycles, and always did everything myself no matter what. It’s hard to say I’m an artist — I’m just doing what other dudes were doing back in the day. I try to use a traditional format but put my own twist on it, I guess.

Do you also ride motorcycles?

I like to ride motorcycles but I am always working, and I gotta say, I love my truck… driving around listening to music. Riding with friends is a lot of fun — I do miss that — but I’m looking to move up to LA from San Clemente soon. I’m excited to get out on the road with the boys.

Any big plans in the works with your art that you can share with us?

I am pretty busy painting and can hopefully get my new personal bike finished — I really want it to be special. I am actually painting a show bike for a Hollywood hunk… now so that was exciting. I was also happy to work with Free People. And and I love clothes. I might like clothes more than motorcycles! I’ve always been into classic American style.

I have to ask… what do you love most about Free People?

If I was born a female I would wear Free People all day. I love that the brand stands for natural or spiritual, down-to-earth, like-minded people that have style… and a girl with style is major points in my book.

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(See details below on how to win the above helmet, + three pairs of FP denim!)

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Thanks Deni, we’ll see you around!

Follow Deni on Instagram.

+Don’t forget to enter our #DenimDaze Instagram sweepstakes to win a custom bike helmet by artist Denis Babin & your 3 favorite FP denim styles! Open to US only.  Terms & Conditions here

Photos by Melodi Meadows. Follow Joanna on Instagram.

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