The son of artist Paul Mann- a member of the Society of Scribes and Illuminators of London- David Mann was born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1940. He started sketching custom cars and hot rods in high school and his drawings helped land his first job pinstriping cars for Doug Thompson and Ray Hetrick’s custom car shop in Kansas City. After graduation David and Al Burnett took off for Santa Monica, California, where he landed at Bay Area Muffler.
In California, David was immediately hooked on the custom “choppers” that had begun dominating the biker culture of the late ’50s. After a short stay in Los Angeles he returned to Kansas City and bought his first motorcycle, a 1948 Harley-Davidson for $350.00. About the same time he created his first painting, “Hollywood Run.” The Harley and the painting were entered the 1963 Kansas City Custom Car show. David’s was the only custom bike entry in the show: for his innovation the judges created a new class and a trophy.
At the show biker/artist Tom Fugle and Harlan “Tiny” Brower of the El Forastero motorcycle club in Sioux City took an interest in David’s artwork and showed a photo of Hollywood Run to Ed Roth, who was publishing Choppers Magazine at the time. Roth loved the painting and commissioned 10 (or as many as 14 or 20, according to different sources) original posters. He also bought David’s second painting, The Tecate Run. At Roth’s insistence Dave made another trip to California and visited San Bernardino, where he met several legendary bikers. Throughout the ’60’s Dave painted 14 works for Roth. Ten were published and lithographed for posters.
In 1965 Mann joined the El Forasteros MC, becoming one of the founding members of the Kansas City Charter. That same year he went to work in at Scheffer Studios in Kansas City where he met architectural renderer Dave Poole, and began learning airbrush rendering .
In the late ’60’s, Scheffer Studios moved to Clearwater, Florida, and David began reaching into “diverse subjects”. In 1971 he answered an advertisement for a “motorcycle artist” in the back of a new magazine called Easyriders, which focused on the biker “lifestyle” as opposed to the the more technical aspects of motorcycles. By 1972 his artwork began appearing regularly in the magazine, and Mann’s relationship with Easyriders would continue for the rest of his life. His art was reproduced as the magazine’s center spread beginning in 1973 and continued to be the publication’s centerpiece until he was forced to retire in 2003 due to his failing health.
A collection of Mann’s work was published in 1993 and updated in 2004: that same year he was inducted into the motorcycle Hall of Fame by artist Billy Lane.
David Mann died a day after his 64th birthday.
David Mann Official Website