Article By: Amelia “Killer” Rose
Originally Published In The April 2019 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine
Freddie Sheppard is the name. Leather working is the game. It was roughly ten years ago that the man behind Misfit Skinny Kustoms picked up his first set of tools. At the time, he was building bobbers and all sorts of custom bikes and really loved the way the hand tooled leather seats looked. So, he decided to go to the nearest leather shop and ask the owner how it was done. Unfortunately, the owner didn’t really know but offered to sell him one of those basic tooling kits and off he went. Not knowing how to use the tools, or really anything about leather working, Freddie drew a simple design on a chunk of leather and went to town, learning what did and didn’t work as he went. Eventually, he ended up making his own tools that he still uses today.
Soon after finishing his first seat, his son had come over to check out a Sheppard he was working on and commented on the seat, asking where he got it from. The boy was amazed to find out that Freddie had made it himself. His son suggested he start selling them online and before long people from all over began ordering do custom seats. As for metal working, Freddie has been engraving for about thirty years or so. Back in 86, he started doing some metal work while he was apprenticing with a journeyman machinist. At that time, he had also worked in a vocational machine shop where he spent his time drafting and welding. This is where he learned to engrave and move metal as art and has been doing it ever since. It was certainly more of a struggle to master the art of metal engraving, and he must have quit and started over two dozen times before even considering his work to be good enough to for public consumption.
Sheppard says his inspiration comes from some of the greats in our industry, like Billy Lane. Back when he was just starting out with leather and metal, he was watching Biker Build-Off on the Discovery Channel and saw Billy bend a piece of sheet metal over his knee to start the framework for a custom tank. Freddie says that if it weren’t for him seeing that, he doesn’t know if he’d be doing this today. He also finds inspiration from Indian Larry and the creativity they put into each bike. A bit of background on Freddie; he was born in San Diego, California though has spent most of his life in the state of Indiana where he currently lives. He graduated from Ball State University with a bachelor’s degree where he studied both Mechanical Engineering and Art. For a good bit of time after college he worked as a tool/dye maker, and repairman, all of which he said helped him to become the craftsman he is today.
If you want to check out more of Freddie’s amazing artwork or even commission him for a custom piece, you can check out his website misfitskinnykustoms.com or go to his Instagram @misfitskinnykustoms. If you would like to be featured in Art of Our Culture please email Killer at firstname.lastname@example.org!