How To Customize Your PC Case & Achieve Professional Results

THG's Exclusive Interview With Steve Horch Of Crazypaint Custom Finishes

THG - Steve, thanks for taking the time to sit down with us to share your insights about PC case modding.

SH - I have been a big fan of Tom's Hardware Guide for several years, and I am excited about having the chance to talk about case modding and how excited I am about it.

THG - Tell us a little bit about yourself and give us some background on how you became involved in the case modding business.

SH - I am a professional painter and I have been involved in the painting business for 17 years. I am 34 years old, and have been painting things for most of my life. As my mother is so fond of telling people, there is very little around my house that I didn't paint when I was growing up. I am a Gold Certified PPG painter who learned my painting skills and earned my stripes in the automotive industry. In addition to the painting and modification of computers, I also do custom painting and air brush work on a variety of things, such as race cars and custom motorcycles, just to name a few. Currently, I have been focused on what I think of as the "art of case modding," and I have been pushing the limits to see what is possible with computer cases. I believe that I was quoted previously in another THG article as saying that I "fell into" painting computers by accident, and that about sums it up.

In addition to computer painting, Steve still finds time to handle special request paint jobs when he is able to make time. In this picture, Steve is painting an ARCA Stock Car that is racing this season in the ARCA series. As is the case with this paint job, most of his customers are referred to him because of the quality of his work.

THG - What do you mean when you say that you "fell into it by accident?"

SH - Well, I never really set out to become a painter who paints computer cases. I was looking at my own computer one day and my standard beige PC case was so boring it was enough to drive me crazy! At the time I painted my first computer case, about three years ago, I was not aware of anyone who owned a case that was any color other than beige. Since I don't come from a computer background, I was a little appreh ensive of disassembling a computer and case, in an attempt to paint it. Once I did some checking around, I found that the worst possible result would be that I would have to buy a new case for my computer. So, I disassembled my first case and painted it. Looking back now, I can honestly say that the results were primitive by my standards today, but it was a starting point. I took this case that I painted and put it in the office of our shop, and when people saw it, they liked it and wanted to know if I could paint something like that for them.

I went to a local computer show and purchased a bunch of cheap computer cases to practice on in order to perfect my computer case painting technique. After painting those, my confidence grew and I liked the results, so I started to experiment further by painting monitors, mice, keyboards, UPSs, scanners, and printers. At this point, I was only painting the computer stuff as a hobby for family and friends, but as more people saw it, the number of requests for me to paint more computer products continued to grow. In the summer of 1997, I established Crazypaint Custom Finishes as a premier source for custom painted computer products, and I launched the web site about two years ago.

A complete system painted to match has to include the case, monitor, keyboard, and mouse. Most people like their system better when all of the stuff matches, but it does add a lot of extra investment in time and materials in order to get it right. Steve just sold this system to Excal from WSBN.COM, an Intenet based radio station, after he saw this case on display at the Ultra Unreal LAN Tournment.