New To Custom Helmet Painting – The Basics

So, you’re wanting to get your first custom painted helmet? This article is designed to tackle the three predominant topics many first ask and help answer your questions. While there are tons of sources of information out there, including other motorsports professionals, manufacturers, and online, this article is simply to give you guidance to help make this process more understandable, and enjoyable. After all, racing is a thrill and it should always be fun and exciting! So here we go.

I thought painting your helmet would damage it?

First things first – we’ll begin by tackling the myth that you get a custom painted helmet because it will ruin it. If you’ve done your research online, you’ve probably already stumbled upon some forum where “SpeedRacer67” has posted a beautiful paragraph back in 2009 of how smart he is and how you simply cannot paint a helmet because it will compromise the integrity of it and ruin it. If this were true, nobody would have a custom painted helmet. Simple. Every racer in the world would be driving around the track with the same factory white or black helmet,  custom helmet painters would not have existed for the past 60+ years, and there would be nothing else we need to talk about. But this just simply isn’t the case.

While there are some chemicals that cannot come in contact with the foam padding and un-finished composites of the helmet, there are plenty of water-based paints out there now that will not harm the helmet at all. There is also the incredibly time consuming skill of masking, where an artist covers the vital parts of the helmet with masking tape, whether using a solvent or water-based paint.

At Veneratio Designs, water-based paints are primarily used as much as possible. However, specific colors, as well as clear-coats and candies, do contain solvents. I personally ensure that every vital part of the helmet is meticulously masked and protected before beginning the painting process so that the solvents cannot compromise the integrity of the helmet. They are the same top quality products and brands that are used by nearly all professional helmet painters in the industry, and have been for many years. Your helmet is safe with us.

Why does a custom painted helmet cost so much?

Custom painting racing helmet

Custom painting racing helmet by Venertio Designs

This is a question that I asked when I started racing shifter karts years ago and started the process of getting my first helmet painted. There are many reasons for this that almost requires its own article, including design and prep time, design complexity, solid colors vs. candy colors vs. pearls, materials, shop costs, etc – not to mention the expensive EPA/OSHA Certified shop equipment that is needed as well. So I’ll tell you what my helmet painter told me: “Because it’s custom and not mass produced where we can charge less and another racer ends up wearing your same design.” Depending on the complexity of the design, an artist can spend anywhere from 15 to 35 hours working on a single custom painted helmet.

Helmet painting is creating a piece of wearable art that represents your personality, performance, and attitude at the track. There’s a reason Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso (before FIA rule change), Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, and many other top drivers have a new design on their lids almost every race: It’s art, and it’s part of who they are. Some people even have framed paintings of their helmets and even collect official painted replicas in their home or office.

Designing your own helmet paint job and sporting it at your next race is often considered a right of passage. It’s a step into the big-leagues where you commit to your craft and begin presenting yourself as a dedicated and professional racer among your rivals. Ask almost any veteran driver and they will tell you they still remember their first helmet design, and they probably still have it sitting on a shelf with the rest of their collection. Some might even have their father’s and grandfather’s helmet sitting in that same collection as well.

Once you’ve donned a painted helmet, it literally becomes a symbolic expression of who you are. Remember, your helmet is what others are looking at when they see you at the track. Everything about racing is expensive, but it also provides the greatest thrill in the world to you, and the ones watching you. Having your helmet custom painted is something you should take pride in, and that value and quality of work will always reflect the cost.

Why don’t I just have my helmet wrapped instead of painted?

Gary Savage sporting his custom painted helmet by Veneratio Designs

As stated before, racing is expensive, there’s no doubt about that. But much like after-market tint on a car window, there’s a reason the guy that wants to wrap your helmet is doing it for so cheap, and it’s only a matter of time before the vinyl starts to peel, bubble, or fade. With the amount of money (not to mention frustration or anxiety on waiting for it to come apart) you could spend on a season to wrap and re-wrap a helmet, that’s money you could have used to upgrade your helmet to candy, pearls, or even have your helmet chromed. Also remember this, when it starts to peel, are you just going to let it hang there and let grime and dirt stick to it? No, you’re going to peel it off. Then you’re right back to square one.

There is no shame in being the racer with an all white or all black helmet on the track. We know you’re saving your money until the time is right – we’ve all been there! You will be so proud of yourself when you saved your money to have your helmet custom painted in beautiful candy’s and pearls with airbrushed fades and finished in shiny high-gloss clear-coat – and be able to call it yours! Being patient and eventually having a quality piece of art you can be proud of, rather than throwing money away on wraps is worth it.

The entire painting process from concept design to reality should be an exciting one, and I hope this helps put you on the right track. When your helmet is finished, it should be something you wear and represent proudly at the race track.

If there are any other questions or concerns you have regarding the painting process, please do not hesitate to call/text/or email me directly. I will be more than happy to speak with you and answer all your questions, and make the entire process for yo fun and enjoyable.

Daniel // Veneratio Designs