Dear SPN Family,
Have you ever heard of the Supernatural Bike (tagged #SPNBike on Twitter) and its owner, Jeff? If yes, here is your chance to get a behind-the-scenes look. If not, please keep reading anyway. I promise, you won´t regret it. It´s a story about a man, his bike, and his life.
Jeff, thanks for giving me the chance to do this interview. Before we talk about the #SPNBike, #AKF and #OnlyLove, I have some other questions. First, how and when did you got pulled into the Supernatural fandom?
I first started watching Supernatural in 2005. I saw the promos for it on the network—I believe it was The WB at the time—and it looked intriguing. Being about two brothers who hunted ghosts and monsters, it was right up my alley. I believe Jensen was coming off a role on Smallville and I liked his acting so that was the icing on the cake for me; I wanted to see how he would do. I think it was also during Smallville that I saw the first commercial for Supernatural.
How and when did you get into art? Did you teach yourself or did you go to an art class?
I used to draw as a kid and usually failed or barely passed my classes because I was “doodling.” I never considered myself an artist as I wasn’t very good. I dropped it after high school.
What attracted you to spray paint?
My brother Jake got me interested in airbrushing. He bought a kit and then decided it wasn’t for him. He brought the kit over and we painted the demon warding symbol on the front fender—just trying it out.
He left the kit with me and I decided to see if I could do it on my own.
Do you have other creative outlets besides the SPNBike?
I recently painted a picture of Castiel’s Angels for my friend, Victoria, for a My Hope Chest auction, but other than that there’s nothing but the SPNBike as far as art right now.
Now it’s time to talk about your “Baby,” the SPNBike. When did the idea of the SPNBike start to grow? Was there an initial thought or moment?
My brother and I were talking about the show Orange County Choppers. At the time, I had only had the Harley for a few months. We started kicking around ideas for a theme and there was a moment where I realized Supernatural was high up on my list. My brother agreed that it was a great theme.
Which character did you start with, and why?
The SPNBike started with Vinyl Graphics, but I took a look and thought, Anyone can do stickers, I need the Bike to stand out. So, I started thinking of airbrushing. The first character portrait on the SPNBike was Lucifer.
I chose him because I have always sympathized with Lucifer in Christian mythology. We’ve all rebelled from our parents at one point or another and, for me, Lucifer rebelling from his dad, God, was pretty epic on a biblical scale; so, naturally with motorcycles being the spirit of rebellion and freedom, Lucifer was a great choice (plus Mark Pellegrino has played the character rather flawlessly. When you think of Lucifer, you picture Mark.)
I know you work continuously on your Bike. Can you tell us more about who and what’s on the Bike at the moment?
I do work continuously on the Bike. It’s been over a year now with lots of trial and error, rinse and repeat.
On the SPNBike now I have John, Dean, Sam, Mary, Castiel,
I’m currently painting Gabriel.
How do you decide which characters make it onto the Bike?
Deciding on characters is simply a choice of who I like. There are SO MANY wonderful characters in the show. I wish I had a bigger bike.
When you drive through the streets, how do people react to your Bike? Do they ask you why it is painted like it is? Do you get in touch with other people because of it?
I get compliments and looks everywhere I go. Even if people don’t know what Supernatural is, they admire the art. People love custom bikes and it draws in people of all types. I’ve shared some very cool stories with people because of the bike. The SPNBike used to have quotes from the cast before I did the mural of Meg and her unicorn for Rachel Miner, and I’ll never forget some of the people I met who were reading the quotes and told me it was what they needed at the time. The quotes will go back on the Bike in the near future.
I know that some of the stars have not only met you, but they’ve also seen the bike. Can you share some of those moments and their reactions with us?
[Before the SPNNC con: ]Rob is the only one who has seen the bike in person. He saw it at the Station Breaks show in Charlotte, North Carolina, at Petra’s last year.
He had a positive reaction even though the bike was in the beginning stages then and only Lucifer’s portrait was on it—with a silhouette of Sam, Dean, and Cas below it. (That silhouette is now covered by Mark Sheppard’s portrait.) I hope a lot of the cast can see her at the very near SPNNC convention [see update below!].
What has been your favorite moment with the SPNBike? Has it changed your life? And if yes, in what way?
My fav moment so far was the road trip to NashCon in April of this year. It was a great ride up. Unfortunately, no one but a few fans who sought her out in the parking lot saw her. But on the ride home, temperatures dropped to freezing with rain, sleet, and snow. I pushed as hard as I could out of Nashville and made it close to the Tennessee border before stopping around 1 a.m. in Newport; I was suffering from hypothermia. I took no winter gear on the trip as it was in the 80s when I left for NashCon. At a rest stop, thirty mins from Newport, an elderly rest station attendant let me warm up in his office. He cut up a trash bag to insulate my body from the cold and help lock in my body heat. He probably saved my life. Meeting him and having our conversation about life and family . . . that was a good moment.
You are not only known for your bike, Jeff. We also know about your passion for the campaigns, #AKF (#AKF means Always Keep Fighting and is the campaign started by Jared Padalecki) and #Only Love. Can we talk about that too? What does the #AKF campaign mean to you, and why is it important to you?
Always Keep Fighting is everything to me. It is words to live by and is what brought me to the SPNFamily. I don’t even know if Jared knew what it was when he first said the words but he empowered ALL OF US to Always Keep Fighting. He’s one of my heroes because of it.
#OnlyLove means to spread love and not hate, and to accept people for who they are. It’s the campaign started by Mark Pellegrino. Is it right that you worked with him on the Only Love campaign? Can you tell us a little bit about it? Maybe why this design was chosen? Also, what does the campaign mean to you?
"Only Love" was born out of the kindness I wanted to show Mark. At the time, he was being treated unfairly, from my perspective, and I remembered a [social media] thread from last summer where Mark pledged change and he wrote the tag #OnlyLoveNow. I don’t think anyone saw it—and he was being met with relentless negativity—so I jumped into a thread and reminded people by tagging #OnlyLove and it just blew up overnight. "Only Love" is an idea to meet negativity with positivity. To be more, to be a voice of reason, and to try to build a bridge to peace—not just for the SPNFamily, but for everyone. Mark took notice and decided to adopt "Only Love" and make it a real campaign. I was very humbled and honored to be able to speak with him personally and work together on that. The logo was designed by someone I know on Twitter, “Poe,” and I think she hit a home run.
By the close of the campaign, I think we sold 2,051 shirts and raised thousands [of dollars] for Stomp Out Bullying. Since then, Mark has been shown so much love by the SPNFamily who have welcomed him with open arms. It’s a very heartwarming thing to see. It was all I ever wanted for him and everyone. Love . . . Only Love.
Did the campaign change your life? If yes, in what way?
Yes, the campaign changed my life. Suddenly I was a part of something big. I made so many new friends, of which I am eternally grateful.
On Twitter, you share videos with your thoughts, struggles, and pieces of advice; you spread love and more. When and why did you decide to make these videos?
I decided to start helping people Always Keep Fighting (I even changed my screen name to AKFJeff) because I saw so many—so, so many—who struggle as I do. Even in my darkest days, I’ll lift every last person out of the Pit . . . even if I can’t climb out myself. Luckily, it’s a two-way street and the ones I’ve helped reach their arms out to me. It’s a wonderful feeling to help each other because in the end, that’s all any of us have—each other.
What does the Supernatural fandom mean to you?
You may know that you are an inspiration for other people in the Supernatural fandom. You show them that they are not alone with their struggle and you support them. That means a lot to them. So, what advice do you want to give them for the moments when they are struggling?
Never, ever, EVER give up. Like Jared says, Always Keep Fighting.
If you could change only one thing in the world right now, what would it be, and why?
I would hope to inspire people to keep Only Love in their hearts. I would hope that they Always Keep Fighting. That, in time, the world will shake itself out of apathy and that mankind will rise to the occasion to help each other instead of fighting one another. This is our world and it’s all we’ve got, so let’s make it a good one!
We did the interview before SPNNC, and you talked about attending the Con with your SPNBike. As you know, I follow you on Twitter and I saw that you had an amazing time there. Would you like to share your experience?
Sure. A lot happened there. Good friends, good music, and a GREAT atmosphere. Creation Entertainment, with the help of the cast, puts on an AMAZING convention with memories that last a lifetime. The ops are great, thanks to the photographer Chris Schmelke. You’re really getting memories as opposed to just photos. My wish is that ALL of the SPNFamily has the chance to rock out to Louden Swain, sing karaoke with the cast, attend the Meet and Greets, the Q&A panels, and just meet other members of the SPNFamily, because let me tell you . . . it’s a HELL of a GOOD TIME!
Do you also want to share how you felt when Mark, Misha, and Chris met you and saw your bike?
It was surreal.
I caught Chris coming out for a smoke break. Some friends next to me called him over and, as he got closer, he saw the artwork and I got the impression that he liked it a lot. He hopped on Wayward Thunder (the SPNBike) and I snapped a few pics, which was cool—me photographing the photographer. He’s a super nice and talented guy.
Misha came out to see one of the Impalas at the convention. He took pics and a quick video and started walking back. As he got closer to me and the SPNBike, I asked if he was enjoying the con and he smiled. I followed with, “Could I trouble you for a quick photo with the bike?” He looked at it, and when he realized he was painted on the front, he looked the bike over and agreed. I was beyond excited, after all, Castiel with his wings protecting the Winchesters is the largest piece of art on Wayward Thunder.
I would regard Mark as a friend. I’m honored and humbled [to know him]. He had one of Creation’s staff come find me and let me know he wanted to see me and would be out in a few minutes. Mark and I have talked off and on for months since we met on Twitter, and he’s very relatable - an all-around nice guy, and very intelligent, which I respect. He wanted to see the bike as much as I wanted to show her to him, so for him to finally see her in real chromed steel and paint with his own eyes, as opposed to a photo, was truly a great moment.
To summarize, meeting and seeing everyone again and having them see and interact with the SPNBike is a treasured memory that will carry me on as I ride Wayward Thunder in their honor and in the honor of the whole of the SPNFamily.
Thanks for the time and for making it possible to do this interview. I can´t wait to see more of the SPNBike and I wish you luck. I hope more people will see the SPNBike in the future.
Editing asssitance provided by Chelsea. All photos were taken by Jeff. If you want to follow Jeff and the SPNBike, you can find him here:
YouTube: AKF Jeff
Do you have any questions for Jeff? What do you think of his bike, and his message of love? Have you followed him on social media? Let's make him feel welcome!