Von Franco

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Von Franco, born Frank Costanza Jr. on May 29, 1952, in San Jose, California, is a renowned self-taught artist deeply rooted in the Lowbrow art movement and the vibrant world of Kustom Kulture. Photo courtesy of www.hobbydb.com.
A promo shot for the Taboo Tiki bicycle that Von Franco designed for GT Bicycles. Photo courtesy of The HAMB.

Von Franco, born Frank Costanza Jr. on May 29, 1952, in San Jose, California, is a renowned self-taught artist deeply rooted in the Lowbrow art movement and the vibrant world of Kustom Kulture.

Teenage Monster Shirt Painter

From a young age, Von Franco immersed himself in Southern California's dynamic hot rod and Kustom Kulture community. His exceptional talent in illustrating hot rod and monster art, staples of Kustom Kulture, didn't go unnoticed. The legendary Ed "Big Daddy" Roth recognized his potential, and soon, Von Franco became an integral part of Roth's team.[1] In the book Rat Fink: The Art of Ed "Big Daddy" Roth By Ed Roth, Von Franco tells the story of his first meeting with Ed Roth; "It was in 1963 at the San Jose Autorama when I first met Ed. I was just a kid then. I stood there staring at this 6 foot 5 beatnik holding in his giant hands what I soon learned was an airbrush. I remember watching him airbrush and pinstripe that first time. I was amazed that such a big man could paint so well. The brush seemed to disappear in his large hands. But man, he could pull a straight line as good as anybody I had ever seen. It was right then and there that I knew wanted to be just like him." Years later, he was with Ed at a car show painting shirts. [2]

Hot Rodder

Franco's journey didn't stop at art. He ventured into the realm of custom automobile creation, earning acclaim for recreating iconic vehicles such as Norm Grabowski's Kookie, Kookie II, and the Lightning Bug t-buckets. He also crafted a remarkable rendition of The Golden Rod. Beyond cars, Von Franco's signature pinstriping and hand-lettering styles have set him apart in the industry.[1]


His talents aren't limited to the visual arts. Music enthusiasts might recognize him as the guitarist for the surf band, The Bomboras, and as a vibraphone player for The Hyperions. Additionally, he has showcased his design prowess with two bicycle creations for GT Bicycles: The Von Franco (in striking orange) and the exotic Taboo Tiki.[1]


A proud member of the Beatniks Koolsville car club, Von Franco's influence extends to the silver screen and print. He was spotlighted in the 1995 documentary "Desperate Generation" and has been the central figure in documentaries like "I Was a Teenage Monster Shirt Painter" and "The Car That Ate My Brain." His contributions to Kustom Kulture are also highlighted in the documentary "Flake and Flames." Furthermore, his artwork graces the cover and pages of "My Freedamn! Volume 6," a collectible series by Rin Tanaka. In a collaboration with Levi's, 35 of his airbrushed sweatshirts were showcased in the "Kustom Monster" international clothing tour.[1]

Von Franco's journey from a young artist to a multifaceted icon in the world of Kustom Kulture is a testament to his passion, talent, and dedication to the craft.

Von Franco's Cars

Von Franco's 1939 Ford Tudor
Von Franco's 1949 Studebaker Pick Up
Von Franco's 1957 Ford Ranchero



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