Anthony Spinazola is an artist. He works with traditional materials such as metals and paints, but also with unconventional mediums of fiberglass and even automotive body filler. His work cannot be found in any gallery, unless one was to apply that name to his shop on Weatherford Lane just off of Giant City Road south of Carbondale. More often, his creations can be seen on roadways and at motorcycle rallies nationwide.
Spinazola, a resident of Cobden, is gaining national attention as one of the nation’s top motorcycle builders and artists. As the owner of Infinite Art Custom Motorcycle Shop, he does everything from simple pin striping on stock motorcycles to custom paint jobs and even complete fabrication of bikes from the ground up. His work allows him to pair two lifelong passions.
“I started making money at art when I was in fourth grade,” Spinazola remembers from his childhood on Chicago’s south side. “I won an art contest with a drawing of Charlie Brown and Snoopy. I won a share of stock in a local utility company and $100.”
While he says that the money was great, what really motivated him was the encouragement winning the contest gave him to continue pursuing art. By the time he finished high school, he turned down a scholarship to the Art Institute of Chicago, opting instead for the motorcycle lifestyle of Southern California.
“I went there in 1980, met some guys, bought a bike and kept doing art,” he says. “I even airbrushed on Venice Beach. Everybody’s skating by, and I’d airbrush anything from T-shirts to motorcycles.”
He remembers his own first motorcycle and his desire to make it unique.
“My first bike was in a box with 1,000 parts. It was a ‘70s Sportster that I bought for $1,000 off of somebody who had taken it all apart. I built the thing from the ground up. I kept modifying it and started painting it. Not long after that, I started doing motorcycles full time.”
Spinazola says at first clients would bring him sheet metal or parts they ordered and he would paint them in his own garage.
“I was fabricating just a little bit, but mostly I did fiberglass work and bondo and stuff like that,” he explains. “I was there until 1994 when I moved to Florida and opened a custom shop.”
His business — and reputation — grew from his Florida shop, but he wasn’t a fan of the hot weather.
“I came to Southern Illinois about 11 years ago to visit friends and I found the best of both worlds — there are hills like in California but only half the people. I love the landscape and the climate. I fell in love with being back in Illinois and discovered that this was a great place. I moved here about 10 years ago.”
Today, clients from all over the country, including California and Florida, come to him for custom bikes and paint jobs that have to be seen to be truly appreciated. Spinazola does everything from custom designing and manufacturing frames, wheels, electrical systems and, of course, paint treatments. While most of his work is on customized Harley-Davidson motorcycles, he says he never turns a bike down, regardless of manufacturer.
Spinazola says his goal is to give each client exactly the motorcycle they want — even when they are not even sure themselves what they want.
“Everybody wants to feel like their bike is really theirs. There is something yearning inside that is like, I love this bike, but when they pull up next to someone and they see they have the exact same one, their ego just drops to the ground.”
That is when they call Spinazola and he begins to find out what makes them tick.
“It’s an interview process,” he explains. “We go through an evaluation where I learn all of the things they like, then I take a little bit of this and a little bit of that and put it all together like a cheeseball to come up with something that they wouldn’t even have imagined. That’s the ultimate thing that blows them away.”
Clients are thrilled. In fact, many bring their bikes back year after year for new products and further customization. Spinazola likens it to “continuing to tell their story.” His recent work includes a three-dimensional eagle on a motorcycle which he custom painted several years ago.
“I enjoy creating a work of art on wheels,” he says. “It’s a sort of rolling advertisement for the personality of the person riding it. It’s an expression of themselves that they can’t say any other way, so they have to put it on their iron.”