Mike O’Brien (aka M.O.B.) owns and operates M.O.B. Air Custom Paint and Graphics out of Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada and has been airbrushing for the past 15 years. He specializes in custom automotive airbrush work as well as motorcycle art and helmets. To see some examples of his work, visit www.freewebs.com/airbrushmafia or call 403/671-3226.

Question: I work on oil rigs and want to do some airbrush work on my hard hat. What suggestions do you have for designs, and is it safe to paint your hard hat? I have heard it actually weakens the plastic and makes it soft. Is this true? Thanks for your input! Lovin’ 8-Lug!

Matt Smith
Denver, Colorado

Answer: Now we’re talkin’! Hard hats are kinda my thingwell, besides pancakes and steaks! I have painted hundreds of hard hats over the past few years and love doing them!

As far as the legality of painting them, you heard right. It negates the manufacturer’s warranty, unless it is done on one of the paintable models, which are made of fiberglass materials instead of the plastic and composite materials most of the common hard hats are constructed from today.

That said, I sell these paintjobs as novelty items, meaning for display only (although, I know many of my clients use them in the field on a daily basis). Hey, it ain’t my skull! So just be careful.

What can you paint on a hard hat? Anything!

From skulls and flames to full-blown scenic murals, hard hats are a great canvas for custom airbrush work. They can easily be an artistic extension of the guy wearing it.

If you’re a big fan of 8-Lug (and you better be!), you could paint a nice, big, fat-tired diesel on your lid. If you like classic motorcycle art, then maybe flames and skulls are more your thing, or maybe you love your dog - put his mug up on your lid.

The point is, use your imagination and paint what you love!

Have fun with it and no matter what, no rainbows or unicorns!!

Thanks for the great inquiry - now get that hard hat sanded down and painted up!

Keep on sprayin’!

M.O.B.