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 outside 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 Novato, 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 his STI to the fastest in class:
Here's a video of Huck driving Thunderhill shortly after I met him in 104 degree weather. Diehard indeed.