The only place in Gainesville where you can paint trains legally is The North Central Florida Yard…. Model freight trains have as much realism as possible: weathered, stained, and “tagged” with graffiti. Ras Luis Justo tells us about his fascinating hobby.
What was the beginning?
I began painting models and miniatures as a way to cope with the PTSD that I have from years of living and being around gang activity and just really bad environment where I used to live being younger. It helps me cope and deal with a lot of stresses that wouldn’t be normal to others.
How do you personally name it?
I call me Train Yard the NCFY The North Central Florida Yard.
How long have you been doing it?
I have been into modeling for the last couple of years, before that I did some other type of toy modeling with military figures. But trains are less violent and since the scale is smaller I can really get into the details of painting towns and cities. I can also express myself and do graffiti all over the buildings.
How do you invite friends to paint your trains? How many of them have already done it?
I have over 25 trains painted by friends and about 16 out at the moment. I either trade art, work and stuff from my clothing brand or send them money if they are famous or do it as work. But most people like my work enough to trade train for train or for my gear or toys I make.
Any good or not good stories about it?
I went to a big train show up in Georgia one year and took some of my trains. I sold a couple and had a train modeler ask me if I wanted to sit in for him because he was painting really bad graffiti on the trains. By that time I was done painting for people I had made a good amount of money and it was 12 hours later lol. But, it can be a hassle to get people to send back stuff you have out for commission. I have one guy that has had one of my trains for a year and a half which sucks, because I can weather and paint a nice train in four hours and that’s gallery quality stuff. It would be nice if people sent stuff back regularly. I send out what people send me to paint within three days always.
How many trains do you have?
I have lost count… Maybe 100-200, don’ t really know since I have them in separate scenes all the time.
Have you ever exhibited them?
This last year I have participated in the Freight Haven and Steel Wheels train shows and now coming up is a show that will travel the country called Tiny Giants. I love being part of something cool and positive.
Sounds like a cool movement! Thanks for the interview and may your collection grow!