Couple of things,
Even the best vinyl printers still are printers, the colors will never look like actual paint, and the image 99% of the time will look like a printed image whether it's pixellated, or you can see the print lines. However, it's still a kewl idea. I still would rather pay for a swirl though.
Couple of problems that can be forseen.
1. Your finish bond will never be better than your vinyl medium to the guitar body, the self adhesive vinyl does break down eventually. We used to use a vinyl that was basically a tube and could be shrunk down around the object like heat shrink tubing.
2. There are very few Clear coats that will bond well to vinyl without attacking it.
3. If you wanted to use this process to reproduce say the PAW swirl, you are breaking copyright as every ATD swirl is copywritten (I don't know if Herc does this as well, but I'll assume he does) so making a PAW replica would be illegal.
As for swirling not being an art form? well, I guess airbrushing or handpainting isn't either then. If you look at an ATD swirl, you have control in the swirl, Darren can make his paint do everything but sit up and sing, and maybe he can do that too. But all in all, it's art,