Eric Haze is a graffiti artist and designer born in New York City in 1961. Haze started out as a graffiti writer in 1972 on the streets of Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Haze established his name at New York scene and developed unique letter forms as well as an extremely distinguished hand style. After graffiti bombing the streets of NYC in the 70’s, Haze spent the early 80’s observing and exhibiting alongside iconic artists such as Keith Haring or Jean-Michel Basquiat. Though Haze experienced success in the gallery scene, he opted for something for which he held more passion – graphic design. In the mid 80′s, Haze studied design at the School of Visual Arts and opened his own studio in 1986, becoming one of the first visual artists to define the look and graphic language of Hip Hop during its golden years. Some of his most classic works include designs and logos for Delicious Records, Tommy Boy, Cold Chillin’ and EPMD in addition to LP sleeves for Public Enemy, The Beastie Boys, LL Cool J and many others. In 1990 Eric Haze moved from New York City to Los Angeles, California. Three years later, he founded the company Hyperformance Inc. which designs an internationally distributed clothing line, jewelry and furniture. The »HAZE« tag he refined on New York’s subways now adorns many of the company’s products. Haze’s clothing remains recognized worldwide as one of the original brands that helped create the blueprint for street wear and urban products. Eric Haze currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York City.
LD You have always been attracted to vehicles and racing (at least what I’ve thought), whether it was you behind the wheel or you designing the look and feel of a machine. When did you first get hooked on the motorized need for speed?
EH I have ALWAYS been attracted to anything on wheels since I was a little kid. Both the objects themselves and the action of driving. The faster the better of course.
Before I was old enough to drive a car, my friends and I used to collect and build racing bicycles, but as soon as I was old enough to drive that was it. As soon as I had a drivers license,
I bought my first car at 18 years old, a white 1970 240Z, which I used to beat up on a BMW 2002 and other 4 cylinder sports cars of the era.
LD What fascinates you as a graphic designer and to the contrary as an artist about the look and feel of the racing society? (Racing is very much drenched by commercialism and advertising with its bold messages)
EH There is a brotherhood of sorts between all »car guys«, although it often splits down brand allegiance lines. To me, cars are there ultimate in both form and function.
As an artist and designer, I get great pleasure out of the aesthetics and the design / building process. The right car can make me just as happy looking at it as driving.
But of course, there is a performance aspect as well. A great car should perform well too, whether it is a super fast purpose built race car or something milder for casual driving pleasure.
LD You are pretty much focussed on old american-made cars, what makes them special for you?
EH I am big on history in general, and I tend to gravitate towards American cars of certain historical importance.
Specifically, Dodge and Plymouth had a very special development program from 1962-1968, where they basically built factory race cars that were also available to the public.
These cars were not only the most interesting cars to me aesthetically, but it was a limited period of very special production of lightweight items like aluminum front ends, magnesium wheels, etc.
This period has always been the main focus of my collection, but I am also into certain periods of time for other brands, like »Shorty« vans from the the 80’s and police cars of various eras too.
LD You lived on both coasts, LA and NYC. Now you are back in New York. Do you miss LA’s car culture? I can imagine New York no fun for ambitious drivers, but I heard you take your cars to the track with Lee Q. sometimes.
EH LA was a rust free dream for me car collecting wise, and great to be able to use and cruise all year round there because of the weather… but in the end NY is my real home.
NY is much harder on cars too, but there is an excitement here when spring comes that makes it all worthwhile. Parking is an issue here too, but I scored an 11 car garage complex a few years ago, which enable me to drag anything home anytime….and yes, Lee Q and I are still partners in crime with our race cars, I have been building a new one to give him a run for his money this season too.
LD What are working on at the moment? The last thing I noticed was 4x4 van.
EH I finished the 4x4 van a few years ago, and it’s mainly a snow and winter vehicle now. That one started as an original LA county »me prevention unit« van, which I had shipped back east from LA.
I put a high torque Edelbrock »crate motor« in that one and put a complete new 4x4 »pathfinder« drive train in it too. It’s a monster.
But now I’m back to building two new Mopar B-Bodies; A 1962 Plymouth Savoy race car, which was the first model Chrysler created factory race cars of.
I found this car in Fresno California, partially completed then left for dead in the 90’s..so I flew out there and packed it up myself for shipping back east.
This car has a 499 »stroker« motor in it, which was built by a famous Indy 500 winning engine builder, and lots of lightweight parts including hood and bumpers, and race interior.
I also have a 1964 Dodge 330 rust free rolling body, which will be the next project I start building this summer… this 64 has always been a »bucket list« car for me and I finally found a good one to build.
Last car that’s new in the garage is a 1965 Dodge Coronet station wagon, which I just took delivery of two weeks ago. This baby is a super clean original California survivor,
But it also has a sick 520 big block stroker motor in it, so it is the ultimate »sleeper«.
It’s also the sister car to Lee’s 65 Dodge race car, so now we can tow his car to the track with my station wagon then race each other !
And oh yeah, I am, building a new custom van for long road trips too… a couple of spy pics included, that will be ready this summer too.
LD Do you spend much time in the garage/workshop? How much is your understanding on the technical and on the pilot side. :)
EH Yes I do. It’s one of my favorite places to just hang out alone when I’m not working. Whether it’s playing with and restoring parts or just having a smoke, it’s my sanctuary.
And mechanically speaking, in racing and motorsports, typically you are either a driver or a mechanic, depending on which side you can bring the most value to.
I am definitely more of a driver than mechanic. And although I leave the assembly, fabrication and building to professionals better skilled than I am in that department, I definitely know my way around every part and spec enough to be a master planner and manager of each project to achieve the results I want, both aesthetically and mechanically.
Form, function and pride of ownership, my love and obsession of everything automotive has and will never change, even my wife understands my passion for it.
As my friend PJAY says, there’s »only one lap in life« …and one of my favorite hashtags when posting car pics online is: #nosuchthingastoomanyprojects ×