James Bellerue is our in-house custom painter here at Stinner. James was born in Thousand Oaks, California but his youth was spent on the East Coast, West Coast and all in between. He first fell in love with bikes while attending art school in Georgia. His passion for handmade bikes and their craftsmanship combined with his background in art are a perfect combination for his role at Stinner as head of the paint department. James spends his days creating custom looks with a keen attention to detail.
Interviewer: First question is a little bit of a warm up, just a general question. Why bikes? What do you love about bike culture?
James Bellerue: I think I was drawn to bikes mainly from a transportation standpoint. When I was going to art school, parking was hectic. Bikes seemed like a good way to go, and it just grew beyond control at that point. I was biking everywhere. By the end of my classes I wasn't focusing so much on class as much as the next bike I was going to build, and it just kind of became my life. I started working part-time at a bike shop and liked the interaction with people, helping everyone get from A to B, and enjoy cycling through their own lens. Yeah, it became my passion and something I had to follow.
Interviewer: Which school did you attend?
James Bellerue: I went to art school at Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Georgia.
James' paint station in the Stinner Workshop
There’s been an honesty in the craftsmanship, and that’s what gets me excited about working on the bikes, is putting your heart into it and having people appreciate it for that.
Interviewer: Tell me a little about your path to get here to Stinner. How did you arrive here?
James Bellerue: I guess I was working at the bike shop in Georgia, I always remembered the mountains of California. I was two years out of college, and I had a girlfriend who was just graduating from art school as well. She was ready for a change of pace, and maybe a little bit better job market, so we just decided to up and move, and we came to visit Santa Barbara. I had always wanted to come back, having lived here before, so we made the move out here. I started working at shops out here, just kind of trying to find my place in the industry.
Interviewer: So that’s where you guys first got to know each other huh?
James Bellerue: Ya, I worked there a couple years. I was service manager there, and grew a relationship with Aaron to the point where he was willing to teach me a couple things about frame building, which was my primary interest at the time, really just being part of this aspect of the bike industry. Eventually Aaron grew to the point where he needed some help and asked me if I wanted to try my hand at painting, given my art background. It worked, so here I am.