We caught up with artist, Tanner Leaser, on his long relationship with Gas Monkey Garage, some of his work that made it onto Fast N’ Loud and the steps taken to letter the Hot Wheels HI-Po Hauler.
GMG: How did your relationship with Gas Monkey Garage come about?
Tanner: I met Richard and Aaron about 10 years ago. They called me up to do a pinstriping project and I’ve been doing jobs for them ever since.
GMG: What were some of the other builds you worked on that made it onto Fast N’ Loud?
Tanner: I worked on a bunch. OK, here’s the list – the Chopped and Dropped 1931 Model A, the Pike’s Peak C-10 Pace Truck, the ’55 Pink Caddy, Shorty Short VW Bus, ‘78 Cutlass Lowrider, ’67 Dodge Dart, ‘68 Ford F-100, ‘29 Packard, the ‘68 Midas Monkey Hot Wheels Corvette, the ‘49 Chevy 3100 pickup and of course the Hot Wheels Hi-Po Hauler.
The ’29 Packard is by far the most expensive car I’ve ever painted and I’m obviously proud to have my work featured on two high-profile Hot Wheels cars.
GMG: What’s it like for you seeing your work on TV?
Tanner: It’s really cool. Honestly, it makes all the hard work I put in over the years all worth it – like it’s paying off.
GMG: What other work do you do?
Tanner: This is what I do – I’m primarily a painter. I’m also a co-owner of a skateboard company called Bombsquad Longboarding, but my passion is pinstriping cool cars and motorcycles.
GMG: What was the process like for coming up with the design for the Hi-Po Hauler?
Tanner: First, we needed to decide on what font to go with, then we laid it out and decided on what finish to use. My buddy Wes Coleman (Whiplash Graphics) was very helpful and him and I collaborated during our multiple conversations with Richard. In the end, we decided on a font that fit with the theme, the shadowing and the turned gold leaf to accent the word “Hauler”. The theme paid homage to the 1960’s era drag racing wheelie cars. That era had a distinct paint and lettering patterns and I believe we did a great job depicting it with this build.
GMG: What kind of paint did you use for the Hi-Po Hauler?
Tanner: I used 1-shot lettering enamel and I used automotive clear to brush over the gold leaf. I also used Mack pinstriping and lettering brushes to brush it all with.
GMG: How did you make the decision on the gold leaf?
Tanner: Again, it was period correct. It also fit the look of the truck and complimented the paint color. We also wanted the name of the truck to really stand out when the car is speeding by. It’s just a really cool finish.
GMG: Can you give us some insights on how gold leaf is applied for the folks who may not know how it’s done?
Tanner: Sure, not a problem. The process starts with 3 inch by 3 inch sheets of 23 karat gold and combining it was an adhesive called Size. I apply the Size to the gold leaf with a synthetic brush so it goes on super smooth and then you have to wait for a certain period of time (1/2 hr. – 1 hour) depending on the weather.
Once the gold leaf – Size mixture gets to the right tackiness, I apply it to the vehicle. Once applied, I needed to move really quick, because there’s a specific window of time that I had. If I waited too long, the gold wouldn’t have stuck and if I went to too early, the gold would have cut when I spun it.
So, once I laid all the gold down, I took a make-up brush to wipe all the excess gold away. Then I took my drill with a velvet tip and I spun it to put that little engine turn in the gold. As you can see by the pictures – I repeated the process until each letter in the word “Hauler” looked the same.
GMG: Is this a common method on how to apply gold leaf or is this your own method?
Tanner: Nope, it’s not my own method, it’s how it’s done. Not many people do it anymore and, in my opinion, there’s not that many people who can do it right.
GMG: Who did you learn engine gold leaf application from?
Tanner: I’m self-taught. A decade of trial and error was really the best teacher for me.
GMG: Do you have a mentor who someone you’ve learned certain techniques from or can bounce ideas off of from time to time?
Tanner: I used to watch John “Bump” Bumpus and Frank Palmer and they were great about answering questions and I was able to study how they went about things. Those two guys are great at what they do.
Follow Tanner on Instagram to see his other work: @tanner41gb