Center Stage: Travis Hess

Every single thing about the art produced by Travis “Tuki” Hess is righteously far out. His most viewed pieces, though, wouldn’t fit on a wall. Tuki’s incredibly detailed custom paint and lettering has brought outrageous color and life to racecars and motorcycles, vintage and BMX bicycles, and yes, sometimes even wall signs.

Hess once admitted that he’s “kind of high strung,” hence the name of his own drop-dead gorgeous 1964 Dodge 440 hardtop. The HEMI-powered Dodge is branded with eye-catching High Anxiety lettering on the doors, and the West Virginia-based Stock Eliminator racer won Mopar’s esteemed “Top Eliminator” award at the NHRA U.S. Nationals in 2016 for his stunning creation.

The design he selected for the project was all 1960s-style, with multiple layers of brilliant coloring from House of Kolor. The intricate, precise hand-lettering was done in gold leaf.

Hess completed his first custom job in 1996 at Buckys Ltd Auto Body in Martinsburg, Va., the shop owned by his father, Super Stock HEMI racer Bucky Hess. Bucky’s nostalgia-themed Barracudas, each custom painted by Tuki, have all been swoon-worthy. Each have been branded with a crafty name hand-lettered across the door: King Kuda, Kandy Kuda, and most recently, Psycho Kuda.

Get a closer look at the artwork produced by Travis Hess on Instagram, including some neat hand-lettering videos deep in the archives: @tukipaintsit

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