For many young men to be a pilot is their ultimate dream job. American artists Dave Hill and Donovan Fell, have a slightly different rendition of the traditional dream job, instead of dreaming of flying planes, they spend their days cutting up old planes and recycling them into high-end limited edition works of art.
Their company, MotoArt, is world-renowned for its innovative recycled aviation furniture and artwork. We caught up with David Hall, co-owner or MotoArt to ask a few questions about recycling airplanes.
Tell us a bit about MotoArt.
My business partner and I worked together designing and fabricating theme entertainment signage before MotoArt, mostly high-end stuff for companies like Disney and Universal Studios.
One day we had a local scrap aluminum guy show up at our place and he had an old aluminum propeller in the back of his truck. My partner rescued it and began sanding and polishing it until it had a beautiful mirror finish. Eventually he had built multiples of them and convinced me to finance a booth at an old car show. We called ourselves Propeller Art and that’s where it all started. Neither of us are pilots. We just both love the airplanes.
How do you decide what to make?
Each month MotoArt introduces a new limited edition series. Our designs are based on finding parts that are recognizable and in limited quantity. Once we see an airframe that may be manageable to work with, we basically reverse engineer it to create something functional and interesting out of it.
Where do you get your airplane bits?
We find our parts all over the world now. Commercial aircraft like Boeings and Lockheed, we can find in New Mexico, Arizona and the Mojave Desert. The older more vintage frames come from smaller airports, hangars and even barns from far away places.
Do you use just American airplanes?
Currently all of our parts are American made. We would eventually like to get over to Russia and see some of their old inventory.
Is there any parts/items that are really difficult to get?
YES, the older aircraft, the older they are the harder they are to find. We do run out of parts for some of the series. Most times it’s quite a heartbreak because you always wish you had a hundred of them because they’re so beautiful. But they do sell out and that is what adds to the beauty of collecting them.
Do you use any old satellite or space stuff?
We’ve incorporated some rocket parts in the past in a few of our pieces. Biggest problem is getting multiples of any of the pieces.
What is the craziest thing you have ever made for a client?
Last year we built a flight simulator for the new Boeing 787 aircraft that is currently touring the world to promote Boeing’s new aircraft. It was constructed using several engine cowlings.
Your most expensive item?
We are waiting to hear if we receive a contract from a large aerospace company to begin fabrication on a $55,000 conference table. This would probably top the single most expensive item. Usually our orders are for more, but it typically involves multiple pieces.
Is each piece a one-of-a-kind or do you mass-produce some items?
All our products are authentic and custom fabricated. We do not mass-produce. Limited edition series are typically based from, at least 6 units to 5,000 units, depending on availability.
Who are your clients?
Most of our clients don’t fly. It’s the love of flight that most buy from us. Our clients are mostly corporate who keep us busy. Companies like Spyker Cars, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Microsoft and various commercial airplane companies. Also advertising agencies, law offices, production companies, collectors, etc.
Is MotoArt a green business?
When we started MotoArt nearly ten years ago we were a little ahead of the big green push. Throughout the last several years, we’ve been published as a very green company. To us, it’s the “art of recycling”.
What is the difference between recycling and re-creation?
Re-creation is taking old parts and giving them a new form & function. Recycling is just turning them into beer cans...
What happens to the airplane bits if they were not up-cycled into furniture?
After the aircraft are parted out for anything resalable, they scrap the reminder for recycled metals.
Is this your dream job?
When we are out cutting airplanes apart, it’s hard not think how lucky we are for what we get to do. We have multi-millionaires who come visit us at our studios, and they envy us our jobs. Of course we envy them as well, because they flew in to see us in their ten million dollar jet.