Friday, 25 May 2012 17:19

Custom Painter Jim Hetzler Started Out at Age 13 with a Model Car

Written by Melanie Anderson
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Custom Painter Jim Hetzler, 53, of Muscatine, Iowa is a world class pinstripe and airbrush artist whose career started at the tender age of 13 when his hobby was building model cars.

“It’s a funny thing,” Hetzler said. “I enjoyed building model cars as a pre-teen and I wanted to paint pinstripes on my cars but didn’t know how to begin. I wanted to learn and know the secrets of pinstriping, but back in those days it was hard to find someone to teach me.” One day he saw an advertisement in a magazine and bought a $5 book on how to pinstripe. That book was written by famous car builder and airbrush/pinstripe artist, Ed “Big Daddy” Roth. Roth was the creator of the “Rat Fink and gang” monster hot rod characters which became rock-art icons, appearing on airbrushed T-shirts, posters and hot rods. Roth’s cartoon characters were known for symbolizing the rebellious nature of the 1960s hot rod movement. Roth took the young man under his wing, and even though Roth was in California and Hetzler lived in Iowa, Roth talked to young Jim over the phone and became his mentor. “He is the one who gave me direction,” Hetzler said.

To view a pdf file of this article with photos, click HERE.

Hetzler became a self-taught artist when his interest in art grew over time in high school. His love of art, his friends’ referrals and word of mouth soon grew to be a full-time business. In the early 80s his career took off, launched by the Honda Motorcycle Gold Wing touring bikes. “They came from the manufacturer in only three colors,” Hetzler said. “People wanted custom paint jobs and the more I did, the more referrals I got and my business grew to cars, trucks and semis.”

Today, Hetzler is a world class pinstripe and airbrush artist and specializes in lettering, graphics, pinstriping, gold leaf and airbrush and is highly recommended for his symmetrical, multi-colored fine line stripes as well as his realistic airbrush techniques and ability to apply the most current techniques to any project. Jim and his wife, Chris, own and operate Hetz Pinstriping and JC Hetz Studio Signs and Graphics in Muscatine, Iowa.

With 40 years experience as a pinstriper, 35 years as an airbrush artist and 25 years in the custom painting business, Hetzler has too many projects to count. But some of his favorite projects include pinstriping the Good Guys 2009 Street Rod of the Year, custom painting his own 1950 Ford Club Coupe, and creating the paint job on a full-size tractor trailer semi for the University of Iowa’s Hawkeye Football Team.

Jim was given the title of “Pinstriping Legend” by Northern and Southern Rodder magazines and has received many awards for his graphics and designs throughout the years. In 2007 and 2011, Hetzler received the House of Kolor Prestigious Painter Award. He’s been using House of Kolor products for 25 years and for the past two years, has been testing the new Shrimrin2 Formula.

“I like the new line even more,” Hetzler said. “It’s incredible paint and gives you the ability to create thousands of colors from 16 base colors. It’s easier to use and you can intermix it for any color combination.” The newest line of paint from House of Kolor, released in June 2011, is a solvent-based paint with low VOC. What makes the Shrimrim2 Formula special, Hetzler says, is the ability to custom create a multitude of colors and intermixing Kandy with bases and creating special effects with its line of pearls and flakes.

“House of Kolor has been my paint of choice for the last 25 years,” Hetzler said. “House of Kolor paints is the foundation of all my artwork and graphics. It’s vibrant, easy to work with and is convenient to mix colors. Using their paints has enhanced my artwork and really made the colors pop.”

One of the highlights of his career, Hetzler said, has been the honor of working with Jon Kosmoski, who founded House of Kolor in 1956. Today, they work together to create new products for House of Kolor. “When I first started using their paints 25 years ago, I was impressed and thought they had a great product. In my world, Jon is a rock star. To be involved with custom painting at this level is amazing for me.”

Hetzler often travels with the House of Kolor, taking his talent on the road and showcasing House of Kolor paints. He is a regular showcase artist every year at the SEMA show in Las Vegas. He also will be at the Back to the 50s car show in Minnesota in June. In August, he’ll be in Louisville, Kentucky for the Street Rod Nationals. In his spare time, he holds his own workshops in pinstriping and airbrushing, as well as working as a pinstripe instructor for “getaway workshops” in Orlando and Las Vegas.

Hetzler’s trademark signature is “Hetz” and can be found on all his projects. His online, Facebook and personal connections in the custom painting world have made him famous. “I can go anywhere in the U.S. and people know who I am. It’s kind of scary,” Hetzler said.

For more information, visit or contact Jim at (563) 263-2803 or at


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