Almost every racing fan and avid Jalopnik reader under the age of 37 knows who Ken Block is. Oh… you mean Ken Block the DC Shoe brand creator, GoPro slinger, Tire Slaying Hoonigan, and Gymkhana master? Yeah, I’ve heard of him. But do you know the man behind one of motorsport’s most recognizable logos? He’s just a man. A man they call Huck Gee.
Funny thing is, if you’re a toy collector who frequents stores such as KidRobot and Rotofugi and you collect modern art, then you already know Huck from his work with KidRobot’s Dunny’s (standardized vinyl bunny toy designs that start life as matte black and are painted by various artists). What you might not know is that Huck’s 2007 8″ Dunny titled “Hello my name is” now sits in the New York Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection and he has consigned several projects for Christie’s Auction House. You may not know his name but Huck’s work is so sought after, his new pieces sell out quicker than Springsteen at Wrigley. Not bad for a graffiti artist from South Central Los Angeles.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Huck is first, and foremost, a fine artist and designer who has a serious car problem. Born in England, Mark (Huck) Gee, emigrated to Los Angeles with his family at the age of six when his father, a transmission rebuilder, capitalized on a lucrative opportunity to start his own transmission garage here in the states. Huck’s father was an amateur rally driver back in the UK who’s hobbies included rebuilding Porsche shells in the garage on the weekends. Surprisingly, Huck didn’t catch the car bug until he was well into his mid/late twenties.
These days, Huck can’t stop his addiction to cars. A Subaru enthusiast to the core, Huck time attacks his heavily modified Alpine White 2010 Subaru Impreza WRX STI. These modifications could be listed but you’d be scrolling for a while. He’s owned 4 Subies: 2 bug eye WRX’s, his current STI, and a Forrester that he has eyes on converting to an STI. A fair amount of the work is done by Huck’s friends over at LIC Motorsports in Lovato, CA. Subaru wrenchers might recognize their name as LIC Motorsports was the first Subaru shop to complete an RS to WRX engine conversion. Excellent friends to have.
Enough about Huck, let’s talk about his art. Blockhead came about as Huck was tapped to initially design the entire car wrap:
“We planned on doing a play on my own iconic Skullhead character for Ken’s logo and car wrap. Tying in his name just made sense. It was originally going to be plastered down the side of his STi but about 90% of the way through the project it was brought to my attention that No Fear energy drink had a giant skull on the side of their X-Games car which meant my wrap design got scrapped. We still managed to keep the logo, thankfully.”
And then Block changed teams. So the final wrap?
Ended up on a (gasp) Ford.
Block had this to say about working with Huck:
“The skull logo that Huck designed for me has been amazing. Between using it on my cars and incorporating it into my gear with DC, the overall reception has been extremely positive. Fans love it, I love it and my other sponsors like it as well, because it’s now so readily identified as my mark thanks to how much I’ve used it these past few years. They know that if they incorporate it into things they’re doing that relate to me, fans will instantly recognize it.”
So next time you take a look at a piece of art, a car, a toy, a logo… Always remember that there are hundreds of man hours that went into making it look awesome and there is always a creative person (and most likely a creative team) behind it, from idea creation to the refinement and all the way to the final execution. Huck may not drive like Ken but he’s getting there. No worries. His design work, creativity, and personality are off the charts.
Although Huck doesn’t have any large car projects on his design radar (except for a few LIC Motorsports race car wraps), he loves to dream about driving. Maybe in the near future, Huck can list “having-my-work-embossed-on-the-top-of-the-brake-lever-of-a-WRC-championship-car” to his list of accomplishments. Your move Ken…
Full disclosure? I spent about 10 hours with Huck last summer at his studio in San Francisco. The fine people at Subaru supplied us with a brand new 2013 Subaru BRZ to show off and Huck and I made sure the kids over at LIC Motorsports got a good look at it. Lucky for me, the trip coincided with the famed Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance outside of Monterey, CA which means… well… Gobs of pretty photos.
Here’s a video of Huck driving Thunderhill shortly after I met him in 104 degree weather. Diehard indeed.
| currently listening to: Learo, You’re a Hole, Archers of Loaf, Icky Mettle, 1994 | LINK
Portrait #38 is tony
i can’t remember who approached whom in my online relationship with tony. we both decided that it was either in reference to early SST bands or Archers of Loaf but we both agree that our shared love of music, culture, and aesthetics (photography and graphic design at the top of the list) has made us, at the very least, compadres. so i thought to myself, why not meet tony in person (IRL for those of you following at home)?
when i first looked up tony’s photography on the interwebs (Don’t Explode) i was grabbed by his attention to detail and the honesty presented in his portraits. my goodness tony can get to the point quickly with his photos. most of his subjects will lay out their life story for you with one deep look into their eyes. tony captures these moments with great precision while giving taking an off-the-cuff relaxed ‘studio-less’ style. it’s no coincidence that he’s quite an accomplished art director and his love of symmetry, colors, patterns, and composition play a large role in his photography.
because tony’s camera work focuses on two niche groups; portraits and skateboarding, i feel that i have found a kindred spirit. many artists these days spread themselves too thin artistically and they forget to practice their craft and focus on the subjects that they love. in trying to make a buck, lots of photographers accept mediocre results in the pursuit of being able to photograph everything for their clients. all of the kind things i said above about tony’s portraiture can also be said about his skateboarding photos as they are world class. you can feel the passion in his work because he is photographing the places he’s been, the people that he surrounds himself with, and the activities that he loves. even if you are not familiar with the subject matter, you can tell when someone truly owns their work.
music and culture can bring people together from all walks of life and tony and i just happened to meet at the end of a gorgeous spring day in chicago. we walked around the Ravenswood corridor right about the time that the light falls off the horizon and the world is left in a soft indirect glow. because we love the same music, because we make art that appeals to us, and because we are sticklers for doing it right the first time, tony and i get along smashingly. i hope that this mutual admiration continues and i seriously can’t wait to buy his first skateboarding coffee table book that encompasses photographs of everything that the modern skating lifestyle has to offer. hats off.
check out some of tony’s design and art direction work at Wellborn Clothing (they are currently undergoing some maintenance) and keep looking for his name in places like Thrasher, TransWorld Skateboarding, and keep an eye out for him up at the Wilson Skate Park this summer. he’ll be the guy with the fisheye 15mm who’s in the right place at the right time.
before eric bachmann was the leader of indie folk rockers Crooked Fingers, he was the tall front man for the lesser known Archers of Loaf. sprung from the depths of the fertile rock soil in Ashville, NC, these four dudes let us know what punk/indie rock guitar interplay could sound like. witty lyrics, odd finger picked guitar noises, and rabid fans made them underground heroes. speaking of underground, Archers are probably known for 2 famous phrases that they coined in their lyrics: 1. The underground is over crowded (written to show that the tube in London was packed) 2. She’s an indie rocker and nothing’s gonna stop her (written about a sassy riot grrrrl for sure).
if you haven’t heard the Archers before, it’s probably time you heard what all the fuss is about. go out and buy Icky Mettle and Vee Vee. you will be happy that you did (regardless of what Pitchforkmedia says…).
‘you’re a nervous brand of metal, i’m a solid state’.