Ok so I figured I would finally create a thread just for the paintwork I do as a hobby. (Hobby for now ) That way I don't keep injecting my work into random threads, keep causing derailments, and fill perfectly good MINI threads with non-MINI content. It will also keep it all in one place for everyone to see, and share ideas without doing any of that either. First off, I want to say that this is in no form intended to be any kind of advertising! I do this as a hobby, its not a business (yet), and I am not the one to call when you need a scratch fixed! Granted I do work for friends on occasion, but please keep that commentary to the PM box. So with the blanket statement said, how about a little background info... At a very young age (7-8 years old maybe) I started playing with all the old spray paint cans my Dad kept in a cabinet in the garage. I painted EVERYTHING, Mom's flower pots, random junk, the dog, you know all the typical stuff kids tend to make a mess of. I started learning different techniques just out of nowhere... Layering paint, changing the nozzles to get different spray patterns, playing in the still wet paint with brushes scrapers and rags to change how it looked, all the typical stuff. Well when I was 10, Dad was preparing to repaint my Grandpa's truck, and I got to help... I learned the basic body work, and prep skills, with him showing me what to do. Yeah a 10 year old with a sanding block in his hand, staring at a car... Most people would be terrified! But, since the existing remnants of the original 1977 paint on that old Dodge were doomed anyhow, it was a perfect way to learn. It seemed like months passed as we smoothed the body back out, and got it back to looking like a pickup again. Then the day came, where Dad reached into the very top shelf of a cabinet in the garage that he always told me to stay out of, and he pulled out an old Sharpe suction feed spray gun, handed it to me, and asked if I was ready to learn how to paint. I ran the hell out of that primer, missed a door, orange peeled the hood, but it didn't matter I did it! And over a gallon of primer later, it really wasn't looking too bad. Eventually, we got the primer all flattened out, and he laid down the nasty single stage brown paint as I watched and learned. Over the next few years, he did a few more cars in the garage, and I started being competent behind the gun. So at 15 years old, I got to spray my first car, all alone with minimal help. Sure it wasn't up to most body shop standards, but that didn't matter. I got into the more technical stuff by doing custom paint jobs on model kits, I started airbrushing, (never really got the hang of most of the air brush techniques, but the same rules apply to the bigger guns and it was a great way to practice on a small scale) then started doing small stuff in high school like trim pieces and displays for the competition sound systems I was building at the time. I kept this hobby all through school, then when I went into the Army when I turned 18, I had to give it up. Years later, after my active duty time, and a good ways into the reserves, a friend of mine started working for a body shop. Then he started doing his own work on the side, and eventually quit working for anybody but himself. He once asked if I wanted to come and work for him, and I turned it down. I hadn't even touched a spray gun in almost 4 years! I did start playing around with it again, and was always hanging around his shop, and we would teach each other different tips and tricks along the way. The time came that my R53 needed paint, it had been stripped and prep'ed for a couple years, and I wanted to come out of paint retirement. At first, it was just going to be a basic respray, but that changed direction with a wickedly crazy dream one night, and the idea of the Rat-MINI was born! We all know how the story goes from here, and there is a lot more going on behind the scenes these days. I will update this thread as I go complete with pictures, and my usual commentary as it happens!