My journey as a custom painter began way back when I was 15 years old. My dad owned a 1970 Chevy Camaro Super Sport that had been custom painted by painter Ivan Benic in the late 1970’s. With intentions of restoring the car, dad had me strip the paint off with a razor blade. Unfortunately, due to time, money and just life in general, the car was never fully restored. But it was the start of a life-long passion for me.
Throughout the rest of my teenage years I was drawn to the world of mini truckin’. I was attracted to the bright colored paint jobs and graphics that just presented a type of “coolness factor” to me. During this time I worked with a friend who had recently finished community college for automotive collision work. And while working with him my interest grew more and more towards the paint side rather than just the body work.
Fast forward about 10 years, I started a career in public service while continuing my hobby of painting cars on the side. One particular side job was a low-rider Toyota truck that belonged to a friend. In my parents cluttered, one-car garage I worked on and painted my buddy’s truck. When it was all finished we took it to a car show and actually ended up winning first place in our class. However, this did not convince me that this was something I could actually make a living doing full-time. Later on that year I got a second job at a restoration shop, prepping cars for paint. One night I was given the opportunity to paint a 1970 GTO. The workers and shop manager were impressed by my work and said "paint was my thing". Over the next few years I continued fixing cars for friends and getting small jobs by word of mouth. In 2015 the side jobs became steady enough that I moved my side business out of the garage and built a shop in my backyard.
But dreams of opening up my own business took a backseat when my mom, who had recently moved in with us was diagnosed with cancer. When she was able, she would often walk out to the shop and just marvel over whatever I was working on and told me that she believed that painting was my true calling. After her passing in early 2016, I decided to take mom’s advice and started JS Kustoms and Collision full time. Doing insurance work and collision repair to pay the bills, and custom paint jobs on the side.
While working on a Harley Davidson motorcycle for my dad’s co-worker, I decided to take the custom a step further and tried my hand at silver leafing. Not having any experience whatsoever, I decided on a whim to reach out to custom painter Nub of Nub Grafix, known for his work with the Tuttles of Orange County Choppers. After what ended up being a 2 hour-long Facebook conversation with Nub himself, before I knew it, I was headed out to upstate New York for some one-on-one teaching.
Shortly after returning from New York, JS Kustoms attended it’s first public event, a local motorcycle rally. And later that year we attended the Capital City Bike-fest in Raleigh, NC. After receiving such a positive response from spectators, fellow vendors and customers, I felt it was time to put more focus on the custom side of the business. I've continued to perfect the skill in the art of leafing and pin-striping. In 2019 I made JS Kustoms and Collision an LLC in partnership with my wife, Jonna, who has always supported me in following this dream. Custom has been my passion from day one and we're excited to continue on this crazy journey.