Luca Berera airbrush

Moto Guzzi – Airbrush Lake Design

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The art of elite airbrushing

Ariadne – or Arianna to us Italians – is a name that may be familiar to you from Greek mythology.

The Greek Ariadne was a Princess of Crete and in love with Theseus, who went into the labyrinth to kill the Minotaur. Ariadne gave Theseus a ball of yarn to avoid getting lost in the labyrinth.

Arianna 2.0 is not a princess. Her labyrinth is the male-dominated world of motorcycle restoration, and her yarn is the story that binds her to Moto Guzzi, one of the most well-known cycle builders.

Arianna Crippa’s passion for two wheels comes from a childhood memory that is still clear in her mind. During a holiday trip with her parents, their car was overtaken by a group of Moto Guzzi riders and Arianna remained glued to the window, fascinated by the two-wheeled machines. From age 14 she has ridden bikes, and used them to travel to the Art Institute where she graduated. However, she began working in a graphics office, dealing with webpages, advancing her passion for motorcycles in parallel.

One day looking for job offers online, she found an announcement of one of the most famous restorers of Moto Guzzi, based in Mandello Lario, on Lake Como, where Moto Guzzi is headquartered. Perseverance always pays and Arianna was hired as an airbrush painter.

Arianna airbrush helmet

Arianna came into contact with important vintage Moto Guzzi motorcycles, such as the “Guzzi Polizia”- she restored the original example used in the film that made it famous. Over the years, she has specialised and opened her own restoration workshop, on the shores of Lake Como, Air Brush Lake Design.

In just four years from opening Arianna has become a unique operator. Not only she does paint, but also deals with motorcycle restoration (her work is also evident on the Abnormal Cycle).

Arianna explained to me the art of restoration showing her work on a 1968 Guzzi V7 700 and a 1945 Guzzi Airone 250 under way in her workshop. “The hardest part is just what comes before painting,” she said. It starts with a thorough look at the original model, using a large book that contains all the Guzzi models, with both technical specifications, painting and factory threading.

Moto Guzzi tank

Then sandblasting followed by restoration work with filler to restore shapes and eliminate aesthetic imperfections, equal to the original. Painting is also not easy, because while the main part is made with a spry gun, any decorations and threadings are made by hand. Measurements, proportions, and positions are previously studied with a careful analysis of old photos and materials.

Explaining what Arianna does all by herself in the workshop is difficult so I found myself trying painting, scratching and threading pieces of a 1968 Guzzi cycle! Each part of the painting requires its own technique and great knowledge of what is underneath and how it would react to any mistakes or new varnishes.

Ariana Moto Guzzi

Not just vintage, with a 1934 Moto Guzzi P250 or 1982 T3 (the gold one), but a modern 2009 Bellagio and a V7 Café Racer Arianna customized for the ‘Moto Guzzi Rally 2017’.

Arianna 2.0 does not need woollen threads to move into the male labyrinth of restoration. She might not be a princess of Greek mythology. But her credentials as an expert restorer of vehicles are second to none.