Archive for the ‘Kustom Kulture Art and Collectables’ Category


There’s a bunch of good photographers around at the moment, but one that is consistently nailing it is Chris Cooper from Melbourne. He’s got a great eye for not just the cars, but people as well. His work has been featured in magazines like Fuel, Street Machine, Cruzin, Gasoline, 2020BMX, Fly Wheels, FocalPointBMX. We caught up with him for a chat about what goes on behind the lens.

Chris thanks for your time. Your photos do a great job of capturing the atmosphere of our rod and custom culture. What inspired you to get into photography?

Thanks, man. During high school, I rode BMX almost everyday, and when photography came up as an elective, I jumped at it. After I burned my first roll of Illford, the bug latched on. It was another way to express myself off of my bike. A way to document my buddies riding. A creative outlet with no limitations.

Most Monday mornings my friends would be bugging me “have you printed the photos yet?” and at lunch, we’d sit around looking at a bunch of wet prints wrapped up in paper towel. Sharing the photographs with a bunch of close friends was always an amazing feeling. And today, that is stronger than ever.

I rode and photographed the scene I was a part of. It wasn’t until the first Fuel Magazine launch party at Rancho Deluxe in Collingwood and the 2010 Chopped that a new chapter of my life started.

My hobbies may have fluctuated over the years, but my belief in why I need to take photographs still remains. I am documenting my life and the people who are a part of it. A time in their lives and mine. I want to leave a legacy of photographs on this earth. Everyone is a photographer nowadays, however, these are my photographs, of my friends. I want them to be able to look back in 10-20 years from now and think, “fuck, we had some bitchin times”.

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I really love your candid shots from the shows you attend. Lots of people can take good photos of cars, but only a few really excel with this kind of work. What interests you about this angle with your work?

Photojournalism has been a huge influence on my work for a very long time. Its truth, a part of history. An event isn’t just about the cars and bikes; it’s also about the people. Who attends these shows? What happens at these events? Who are the builders and owners? A photojournalist captures and creates a story from a certain event in a series of photographs. That’s my objective every time I head out with my camera.

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Have you got any tips for the aspiring photographers out there?

Stop “branding” yourself and get out there and shoot. Don’t limit yourself, be open minded to what you find interesting. Email photographers you look up to. Never be satisfied or content with the knowledge you have. Shoot, shoot, shoot.

Don’t merchandise something you’re passionate about. Cups, calendars, clothing whatever other cheesy shit is out there…..Put all that time, energy and money into pushing your knowledge, skill and finding your style. The only way you’re going to improve and eventually be noticed as a photographer is to build a body of work. A body of GOOD work. Build a blog/website, don’t rely on Facebook. Update that sucker daily/weekly and only upload your best work. Be brutal with your editing.

Anyone can pick up a camera and claim to be a photographer. But not everyone has that certain eye for timing, great composition and has the passion.

Shoot for yourself. Stop pushing people to like your work. If you put out quality work, people will respond to it, and if they don’t, who cares? You’re taking photographs because there is a passion inside you. And lastly, print out your work for yourself. A photograph isn’t finished until it’s printed.

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One for the photography nerds who’ll want to know, what do you usually shoot with?

My over the shoulder camera is a 5yr old Canon 5dMkii with an even older Canon 50mm1.4. When I need to, I’ll hire out the Canon 35mmf1.4 and the 50mmf1.2. These paired up to my own Canon 135mmf2 and it’s a pretty boss kit. Perfect for how I shoot. Film wise my Leica M2 with Voigtlander 35 F1.4 is the Holy Grail.

Recently you went to Japan and checked out the Mooneyes show over there, how was that?

I am still speechless about that show and I honestly can’t describe it in a few short words. It was mind blowing and such an eye opener. The amount of people that attend the one-day show was surreal. Having the hang over from hell didn’t really help but packed in like sardines is no word of a lie. The most memorable part of the show was the attention to detail the builders put into their creations and their displays just for the one day. I couldn’t fathom the amount of work they put in. It’s a show you truly have to see in person to really understand and respect.

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So how does the Japanese scene compare to Australia?

They were extremely welcoming, but that is the natural nature of the Japanese. Very accommodating. Chris Thorogood and I did experience the owners of numerous cars dimming their headlights when they noticed we were taking photos. Both of us have never experienced that here. As two countries, they are two very different worlds. My advice is to check it out for yourself. Go without any pre-expectations and take it all in. It’ll make you look at our country and way of life in a whole new light.




On the home front, have you got any interesting rides on the road or in the build?

My on going project at the moment is a 53 Belair hardtop that I imported 3 yrs ago. It’s been through a rough patch, but insurance is a godsend. I’m currently repairing a bunch of rust with the help of Benny Mickle at Barebones Customs and eventually some subtle changes with the help of Ahron Jefferee at Rolling Art Body Works.

It will always be a driver, never a show car. I haven’t welded since high school and I wouldn’t know the first thing about panel work and mechanically, I can just get by. With that said, its so rad to be able to go out to the shed and start tinkering with bits and pieces after spending a few solid hours processing photographs.

Just like photography, it’s yet another way to express yourself creatively. A new avenue to gain knowledge and life experience. I am surrounded by some very amazing people with skills to match, that are more than willing to teach me a thing or two, and I am truly grateful for that.

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One thing we’ve noticed is that you’re into BMX, as are a lot of the other younger guys getting into traditional rodding, bikes, and kustom kulture in general. What are your thoughts in terms of why this trend is happening?

When I was riding I could show up to a skate park by myself, and within minutes be exchanging life stories with a fellow rider. I think that camaraderie can be very strong within the traditional car and bike scene, which is a massive attraction to riders and skaters.  You have something very specific in common.

Sure, there will always be a dick in the crowd, but for the most part, you quite often find people that you can still call your friend 10 years later.

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We also understand you’ve got some cool art in your pad. What artists are you into?

Man this is hard…there are simply too many people to mention, but here are a select few off of the top of my head: Keith Weesner, Ryan Ford, Chris “coop” Cooper, Jacob Bannon, James Natchwey, Chris Thorogood, Scott Pommier, Craig Nye, Jacob Rapauch, Marc “lowech” Woltinger, Ricky Adam.

Speaking of art, where can people check out your work? And how can someone get a print from you?

I am more than happy to print any of my photographs that you see on my blog/website. Send me an email crcooper84@gmail.com for some prices.

Website: https://crcooperphotography.wordpress.com
Instagram: Crcooperphoto

Chris thanks again for your time!


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Christmas is coming up, so I thought it was a good time to share this project I made last year. I love vintage neon signs, vintage sign writing and typography. I wanted to combine that with my love of upcycling and create some of my own Christmas décor. Follow along as I take you through the process step by step.

The first stage was collecting the pallets for the timber. Most industrial areas will have a few places with a stack of them out on the nature strip. Having a wagon certainly helps!


I cut the planks from the pallets using a jigsaw because that’s the best saw I had to hand. You can try and remove the planks manually, but honestly it’s a pain in the ass and they tend to split and splinter. Cutting them out was quick and simple!


Here I’ve mocked out all of the boards to see how I was going.


I made two frames out of treated pine, to attach the boards too. The centre strip I turned sideways so the boards could meet and attach over it. The two pine frames then bolted together to form the full sign. This also meant that after Christmas I could disassemble it and stash it in the shed much easier.


Here’s one of the two frames completed. Front.


And back.


While the timber had a great weathered patina to it, I wasn’t convinced the lettering was going to pop off. So I decided to give it a lick of white paint to give a cleaner background. Here the two halves are together, and I’m using corks to mock up the placement of the lights globes.


The image I used was off a free vintage clipart website. The cool thing is because the images are so old, they’re out of copyright so you’re free to use however you see fit. A good old overhead projector allowed me to get the image to the size I wanted, and had the image printed onto a transparency at Officeworks.


And here’s the finished product all lit up. The lights I used are festoon light strings from Bunnings, but we replaced the techni-colour globes with clear incandescent 25W globes for a nicer warmer light. Unfortunately the photo is just from my phone, and just makes it look like a fleuro.

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I didn’t bother sanding the timber, and I loved how the texture was highlighted in the lettering.


And the finished piece on display in the front window of our old house.


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One of the coolest ways to remember a great event is to have a visual reminder. So when a bunch of mates decided to head away for the Australia Day long weekend, I figured we needed some plaques to commemorate the run. Being a creative kinda dude, I had a go at making some myself, and they came up alright.

The first step was the design itself. The original design was done in Publisher. However the more I looked at it,  it was just too clinical and perfect. So using an overhead projector as a lightbox, I traced the entire design and redrew it texta, which gave it a much nicer imperfect hand drawn look. Sure designing them on a computer might be cheating, but it worked for me.

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Once the design was redrawn, it was photocopied multiple times in reverse. I then used a process referred to as photo transferring, using gel medium. There’s plenty of tutorials online as well as youtube vids like this one. You can find gel medium at decent art shops, and use the technique on timber, canvas, basically any flat surface.

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The gel medium is brushed onto both the timber as well as the front of the paper. I tried to get a nice even coverage on both surfaces, before laying the paper face down on the timber.

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I then brushed the paper smooth, using something rigid like a card or ruler. Let it dry for 24 hours.

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Using a damp washer, I brushed down the paper. You want the paper to go transparent, but not get too water logged.

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Using my fingers, I scrubbed the paper off, revealing the design underneath. I needed to go back over the design multiple times to get all the paper off.

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Here is what it looked like with all of the paper removed.

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I wanted to give the plaques a weathered look, so I gave them a light sand to weather them down a little.

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Following that, I distressed the timber using a few different tools like a screwdriver, hammer and a few other items. I then went over the plaque with a black wash of diluted paint. This picks up all the scratches and dents in the timber. The pic below shows it compared to the natural pine timber. The final step was covering the whole thing in a matte finish varnish. This protects the design but keeps it looking properly weathered.

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A close up shot showing the texture.

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And the finished plaques all lined up.

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With Christmas coming up, here’s some great swag to fill up your loved one’s stockings.

Cars, surfing and sport – doesn’t get much more Aussie than that! An awesome triple DVD pack from ABC stores and great value at $34.99. Check it out here.

Jess Eisner is absolutely killing the Aussie pin up scene with her edgy modern take on the classic pin up. Her awesome work is in the Street Machine Hot Rod magazine, but why not hang her calendar up and enjoy a new lovely lady every month, all for $25.00. Check it out here.

The boys of Sydney’s Porteno and Bodega restaurants are also killing their field as well. The good news for those not living in Sin City is you can get a copy of their cookbook and enjoy their recipes in your own home. Don’t let the subtle cover fool you, it’s chock-a-block full of amazing photography and recipes. For a sneak peak check out this article here, or buy it for $59.99 by clicking here.


Love mid-century modern? This unique book looks at Australian MCM gardens with over 330 images in glorious full colour. All that for $39.99. Check it out here.

Fuel magazine is great ‘little magazine’ which punches well above it’s weight with fantastic photography and great variety in it’s subject matter. Four issues delivered to your door for just $60.00. Check it out here.

Know a budding artist? Check out these great pinstriping and lettering kits from Kustom Lane Gallery in Melbourne. There’s a range of kits available, the cheapest being 3 colours and a pinstriping brush at $65, through to 5 colours with brushes for pinstriping, scroll work and lettering. Click here to check it out.
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Looking for some Christmas cards, but can’t find anything that grabs your fancy? Check out these great designs from artist Greg Bakes. For info on how to buy a set, hop over to his etsy store by clicking here.



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Recently Penrith Regional Gallery hosted the opening night of their Holiday and Memory exhibition. The coolest part? Our EK is featured in the exhibition, alongside names like Reg Mombasa, Max Dupain and Ken Done!

Here’s the blurb from the Gallery: “Holiday + Memory explores the annual holiday experience of mid 20th century Australia. It is concerned with places ventured to, and experiences had and found along the way”. It continues “Herein, we are taken on a journey under big blue skies and night skies, with cars and caravans on winding roads and highways with oversized pineapples and cries from the backseat of ‘are we there yet’.  It is a land of campgrounds, barbeques and backyard pools, of romantic sunsets and eerie shadows, of riotous colour on the harbour, bush retreats, the brilliant white heat of the beach at noon, flies and mozzies, sand dunes, grass and gnarled trees, being tossed in the surf, burnt to a crisp, sticking to vinyl car seats and dripping icecream. It is a place we all share each long hot Australian summer”.

The exhibition features photography, artwork, and artefacts. An awesome feature is the old Lewers cottage is transformed into a holiday home, complete with mid-century kitchen and loungeroom. The Gallery actually features some beautiful mid-century buildings and gardens, so it’s a pretty cool place to check out. The food at the café is awesome too.

The opening night featured a talk by famous artist Ken Done, who was captivating and hilarious – I can’t believe he’s 74! Our EK is only there till early next week, but it’ll be replaced next week with a vintage caravan in it’s place. The exhibition runs all summer, so if you’re interested check out the Gallery’s website for more info.

Here’s some pics to give you an idea of what’s on show.

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It’s pretty cool to see a rough around the edges old car in a formal gallery setting. People loved seeing it too.


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The old cottage includes a mid-century inspired loungeroom and kitchen. The cool part is most of it will be auctioned off at the end of the exhibition! I’ll keep you posted.

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This fantastic modernistic painting is an original from Margo Lewers.

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The kitchen set up is pretty cool too.

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Some great vintage travel posters on display.

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And finally, Ken Done with our EK!

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I’m pretty stoked to share these amazing pics from our wedding a couple of months back. The plan from the start was a fun and relaxed day with family and friends, and that’s exactly what we got.

We also wanted something that reflected US as a couple. So naturally it had to include our EK Holdens, our mates old cars, lots of rustic and vintage décor, great tunes (blues, rockabilly and rock and roll), and of course great food. We coordinated the whole thing, and bought or made all the décor (even the 75m of bunting, the bouquet made from vintage brooches, all the signage and stationery). I think scouring the op shops and antique stores in little country towns every time we went away was one of the best bits! Having said all this, there is no way we could have done it without the help of family and friends. They went above and beyond to make it happen and were truly awesome.

So without further ado, check out these amazing pics from Jonathan David Photography.

The venue was Castlereagh Hall, just north of Penrith. With gorgeous art deco styling and stunning views over horse studs and Penrith Lakes, it was a pretty easy choice.





Our guests had travelled from all over the place, so we made this sign to recognise how far they’d come!



The amazing chairs and tables are from She Designs.




We encouraged our mates with old cars to bring them along. They looked great and the other guests loved checking them out too.




The bride arrived on the tailgate of our EK, with her best friend by her side and driven by her brother.


My nieces were the flower girls and were adorable!



Our celebrant was the amazing Laurel-Anne from Love from LA. She was sweet, funny and gave us a ceremony that was exactly what we wanted. She’s a lover of rockabilly and vintage style, and we’re stoked to have now become friends with her.



Hair and make up for the girls was by Thalia Amour.



One thing I’ve never liked about weddings is that awkward gap between the ceremony and reception. We had the whole shebang at the one place. To make our guests feel comfortable we had our awesome caterer Mario’s Kitchen put on an amazing spread of gourmet food on a mate’s old Chevy truck, with his staff  serving drinks as well.






To keep guests entertained, we provided lawn games like bocce, croquet, quoits and a lasso set up with a saddle on a sawhorse.




During this time we got some shots with the bridal party.




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Back at the venue, our gifts and wishing well table featured a bunch of vintage items we’ve collected over the years. The picnic basket with the slit in the top made a perfect wishing well! We also featured the wedding pics from all of our grandparents, as none of them are with us anymore.




My mum made the amazing cake. We gave her a simple brief of rustic and native flowers, and she came up with this stunner. Each of the flowers is hand made, painstakingly made petal by petal.


The Hall allowed us a lot of freedom when it came to set up. Our caterer Mario suggested one big long table which looked fantastic, and once again the food he provided was amazing. Each of the dishes were served as share platters, which meant you could have as much or as little of them depending on your tastes. One of my favourite memories of the day is looking down the table and seeing one of our mates eating the remnants of the mash potato directly from the serving bowl.











After dinner we had speeches, and then our first dance was to ‘rolling in my sweet baby’s arms’ by The Snowdroppers.



Dessert was banana flavoured soft serve topped with fresh banana. Half had chocolate topping and a covering of chocolate Persian fairy floss, while the other half had caramel topping and caramel Persian fairy floss. These were served in preserving jars with handles which guests were then able to take home with them.



And with it all over, it was time to make our escape in our EK. We drove ourselves, and it was great to have some quiet time to ourselves and talk about everything that had happened.


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