Dave Little will tell you he's “a southern boy” trying to make it big on the West Coast, where the artistry of custom-painted choppers and hot rods rule the roadways. The owner of Little Designs in Lancaster, is what they call today “an extreme painter”. A glance at his work on choppers and Harleys and classic cars and hot rods that rev up to his West Ave. I shop daily will tell you his work is “extreme art”.

Little, 33, came to California 7 years ago from Charlotte, NC, where he spent nearly 10 years doing collision repair. But it was with his buddies in Charlotte that his artistry took shape. “All my buddies cars ran like scalded dogs and looked like hell. Mine looked like a million bucks, but had cobwebs under the hood”, he joked. So they traded mechanical work for paint and art work.

At the offer of a friend, Dave journeyed to the Antelope Valley to take a job at a body shop, hoping to get the break that would fulfill his dreams. “I knew if I wanted to do custom stuff, I had to be on the West Coast”, he realized. But as days and weeks and months and then 2 years went by “I got tired of painting fenders; it gets boring”. He said. Dave was almost ready to go home.

His break in the extreme-paint market came when doing a flame job for Sal Alaimo owner of Westside Collision. After seeing his work Sal offered up his shop for Dave to produce his art on nights and weekends. One break led to another when Dave developed a friendship with Mike Shundo, a well known Valley custom guy. “He basically talked me into staying out here”, Dave says. “He saw my work and told me if you can get your name out there, you'll go a long way”.

Finally the ultimate break came with Mike Stafford of MGS Custom Bikes. Things started to happen. Using Stafford's custom choppers as his canvas, Dave began appearing in Valley bike shows, then Southern California bike shows, and finally bike shows throughout the nation. Dave Little and Mike Stafford both got noticed in a big way.

Little Designs was officially born in December 2003 in a facility just off Sierra Highway on Avenue I in Lancaster, CA. Dave put together a team who he calls the finest and most talented group of craftsmen and artists that he has ever known. Little Designs continued its collaborations with MGS and opened its doors to Harleys and other bikes.

Laughlin River Run is a three-day biker rally that draws tens of thousands of bikers from across the country and the best of the best in “extreme artists”. In April 2004 MGS entered the steep competition at this event showing off their top-of-the-line custom chopper, “Dragon Slayer”, totally covered with the artistry of Little Designs. Only one bike would earn “Best of Show”. At the end of the day it was “Dragon Slayer”.

“The cool thing about Laughlin was for it to roll across the stage for first place.” Dave said. “The only thing better than that was for Arlen Ness, basically the grandfather in the business, to congratulate us, really makes you feel good, makes you feel like you've gained the respect of your peers.”

And that's the truth. Dave and Little Designs at last had arrived at the Big Show that is “extreme art”.
From then on Little Designs and MGS took the spotlight with Mike's custom choppers complete with Dave's extreme paint on the canvas being featured in numerous biker magazines and exploding onto the covers of such prestigious publications as Hot Bike, Barnett's, and Easy Riders.

Then Little Designs expanded its horizons. Dave started applying his special talents to Classic Cars and Hot Rods and Custom Trucks with the same extreme art and the same extreme success. Today the business is about half and half cars and bikes and the awards keep coming in both categories.

Last year the MGS bike “Radical Simplicity” adorned with Little Designs paint won: “Most Beautiful Bike in America” at the Grand National Roadster Show. And the first of this year Little Designs artistry made the cover of Mini Truckin' Magazine decorating NTKUSTOMS tricked out and lowered retro '76 Chevy pickup.

Dave no longer attends bike shows all over the country but there is one event that is dear to his heart. “Thunder on the Lot” is the biggest one-day local event raising funds for children's charities. He sets up a booth every year and does volunteer work for the cause. “It's been an excellent business proposition and all the people surrounding it are wonderful, and it's all for the kids” he says.

Now of days Dave gets to do what he loves every day. He works with his hand-picked team in his shop which is a 7,000 sq. ft. facility featuring an office and showroom, a double-bay prep and body shop and a 5,000 sq. ft. workshop with a state-of-the-art paint booth all surrounded by secure, locked gates.

Well, that's all there is to tell unless you're not the type to scream down high desert streets or California freeways on a custom chopper or Harley or hot rod don't fret. Dave will paint anything; antique gas pumps, John Deere Tractors, antique pedal cars, surf boards, not to mention the 1953 Crosley refrigerator that adorns the showroom with an extreme paint job that would make any biker jealous.

Like the Little Designs business card says:
“Whatever u got we'll make it hot!”

Many thanks to the Antelope Valley Press for most of the text in this article.