When you walk into Debonair FX on the NorthEast side of Houston, TX you walk into a gallery for a brand that is continuously evolving. Emil Armendariz, the artist and creator of the Debonair brand has worked hard over 18 years to come full circle on a fine-tuned, more distinct, niche in custom motorcycle painting. For clients of Debonair FX, it’s not just about getting something cool painted on your bike, it’s much more personal; a debonair piece of work that will stand the test of time and definitely give you bragging rights.
Emil opened his first shop at the age of 17 and quickly learned that friends and family were last to realize that, even though he was very young, he still had a business to run. After a short stint at his new shop fulfilling low-paying jobs for friends and family, he quickly realized the reality of the bills that pile up when you own your own business and he was forced to shut it down and resort to one-to-one jobs to continue developing his, already amazing, skills as an artist (and entrepreneur).
It wasn’t much longer before he was at it again; a portfolio of amazing work and a new shop. But, this time, experience was the key to success.
Always remember that you have a business to run first and foremost. Carefully pick and choose the jobs you do at a discounted price. If you don’t have the time, the money or the space to fulfill jobs you don’t ever have to feel bad about letting people know you cannot do the work for them. Discounting your price to anyone that asks you to discount your price (without purpose) is hindering the progress of your business.
For years, Emil progressed his work by learning from established artists in the custom motorcycle and fine art industries such as Fonzy Airshot, Craig Fraser, Anthony Guerra and so many more artists. Airbrush was the key to realism and custom graphics and it was these artists that were taking the time, in the mid-‘90s, to show how they were creating their amazing work. It was only a matter adapting the advice and skills he received from these artists that advanced Emil to the start of where he is today.
Always remember that your style is built in you. You certainly can get better at conveying your style but you’re better off learning the skills and techniques of others and adapting those skills, once learned, do your own style and technique. When you break it down… Nothing is original; someone, somewhere, created before you did… you might as well discover your thoughts through reference of other artist’s work and create your own version.
After hundreds of cars, bikes, helmets and pretty much everything else with a hard surface, Debonair FX was born in 2001 and thus began the process of developing a brand behind the name. The engine that drives the brand is Emil’s mind. Beyond being a family man, an artist, a photographer and just about everything creative, Emil is a businessman: an entrepreneur through and through. His ability to have excellent business sense has allowed him to afford the finer things in life and carry out other business ventures through the Debonair brand.
The Debonair office is currently home to two thriving businesses and the current development of several others:
• Debonair Limousine is Emil and his amazing wife, Theresa’s, limousine business that specializes in the rental of customized Hummer Limos that Emil painted himself. The business is known for the customized work that adorns the side of each limo and interiors that allow customers to definitely take the party on the road.
• Debonair FX is Emil’s custom motorcycle business that is blessed to be fully booked for the next year. In Emil’s hometown of Houston his work is clearly sought after and Debonair FX, after many years, is the security for his success. You can find Emil and a plethora of his custom work at various trade shows across the city. Refer to this website for information.
• Ideas are constantly flowing with Emil and the development and invention of new products such as a motorcycle accessory line all happen within the confines of Debonair FX.
In 2011, Emil’s work became renowned on a national scale when he was asked to paint the vehicles for the CMT original reality show, Trick My What? For Emil, this was the hardest thing he’s ever done and probably will ever do. The work was painstaking and a ridiculous amount of time every day had to be put in to the creative work behind the vehicles in order to ensure that filming could go as scheduled. You can watch episodes of the show on iTunes.
There’s no such thing as luck. “Luck” is the what you get when you’re ready for an opportunity that presents itself. You are going to run into opportunities all the time; some of those opportunities will test you to the limit and some will be a drop in the bucket. When an opportunity hits you in the face make sure you can feel it and move on it… if it doesn’t pay, does it really matter?
Emil is a one-man-show at Debonair FX when it comes to customizing your motorcycle(s). Many shops will have specialized employees that work on various stages of the customization of your bike. At Debonair FX Emil does the work from start to finish and there are no other hands that touch your bike.
If you simply don’t trust anyone to do the work like you do then develop your business in such a way that will afford you the time and finances to do the work yourself. You may not love doing particular aspects of the work but it does guarantee that it will be done right the first time and the customization of the work is truly one-of-a-kind.
Above custom motorcycles, custom cars, fine art, limousines, product development, gallery shows, traveling and running several businesses… Emil is a family man. Don’t let the tattoos (all created by Fonzy Airshot) and ultra-calm, cool demeanor disguise the love he has for his lovely wife, Theresa, and his three beautiful kids: Emil Jr, Chuck and Destiny. On any given weekend it’s about getting out and being active. Recently, Emil and his family took on the trenches of a two-mile mud bog.
*NOTE: Emil currently has a three-month waiting list. If you would like to reserve a spot for your bike in the future please fill out this form.