August 21, 2020
Devan Beaudoin

The Hood Masters have been Crowned

What If?

The Hood Master Challenge started out as a “what if” dream with one simple goal: bring the focus back to the artistry within the industry.

Nine partners agreed to sponsor the challenge, turning the dream into reality: 3M, AkzoNobel, Indasa, Axalta, Norton Saint-Gobain, Anest Iwata, SEM, SMART and SATA by DanAm.

Participant registration opened on March 26 to all FinishMaster customers across the U.S. and Canada. Registrants had a 29” x 27” aluminum miniature hood shipped straight to their door to use as their canvas. After two weeks of open registration, 274 industry artists signed up to compete.

COVID-19 Challenges

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers encountered shipping and hood production issues while participants were confronted with challenges ranging from loss of income to product shortages to shop closures. While being mindful of obstacles participants were facing, FinishMaster remained committed to the challenge and the challengers, extending the original deadline of April 20 to June 31. Despite all the difficulties, 46 hoods were submitted for judging.

Once all the hoods were returned to Indianapolis, the fun of unboxing began. Each hood revealed impressive colors and unique designs ranging from mainstream movies and pop culture to custom images. The wide variety of airbrushing and hand-painted lines to multiple layers of taping and striping required judging categories to be reconsidered and expanded. The final categories were decided after the hoods were returned, and it became clear that to do the challenge and competitors justice, there needed to be additional prizes awarded. It was decided that freehand airbrushing, stenciling and hand-laid striping should be judged separately; modifications were unexpected but deserved to be recognized. It was then decided to include a first-place airbrushing and striping category, as well as a final wild card for a final challenger who deserved to place.

As COVID-19 case numbers rose, social distancing was defined and restrictions were enforced, decisions had to be made regarding the judging process. An art exhibit that was originally planned to be held in person in Indianapolis had to be canceled and reimagined. The event was meant to showcase the hoods and recognize the talented artists. However, the health and safety of the public took priority, and FinishMaster opted for a virtual judging and enlisted the help of online communities to vote for the crowd favorite.

The Judges

The judging panel was made up of sponsor representatives and industry professionals. Individuals who had years of painting experience and a variety of expertise, including a fine arts scholar, magazine editor and several industry influencers, helped to select the winning hoods.

A two-hour judging session took place via the Microsoft Teams video platform, where each judge went through their selections. Discussions were exciting as everyone rallied for their favorites, evaluating techniques and difficult designs as well as the time each hood must have taken. There was admiration and praise in every judge’s comment, and sometimes they struggled to select just one. Each member of the panel offered a great deal of knowledge to the outcome and selection of each winner.

Choosing a Winner

It quickly became clear that choosing a winner was not going to be easy. When it came to selecting the wild card winner, votes were cast three times. Judging was exciting, educational and even humorous at times.

Winners were notified on Aug. 7, and many reacted with disbelief. It could have been the last few hard, trying months, but challengers seemed shocked to hear that they were taking home a Hood Master prize.

Recognizing the talent, time and dedication these challengers put forth to participate in a brand-new competition was an honor for FinishMaster organizers.

On Display

Now that the winners have been awarded and congratulations have been given, the mini hoods will be making their way across the country to be displayed in FinishMaster’s headquarters, training centers and branches.

With this year’s challenge concluded, FinishMaster is now looking towards next year and Hood Master 2021.

By working with judges and participants, changes are being made to increase awareness, improve the experience and build a bigger and better competition.

“This is a great way to recognize artists in the industry, and I look forward to seeing Hood Master grow in the future,” said Joe McCorry, president and COO of FinishMaster. “These hoods tell a story of commitment and dedication from each participant. It is awesome to see the creativity and skill that they have to offer.”

To view all the hoods submitted this year, meet the judges and sign up for next year’s challenge, visit

The Winners

1st Place – Airbrush

Title: The Kraken
Artist: Julian Dodd, Dodd Design Studio, Unionville, Va.
Prize: $2,000 plus a SATAjet X5500 HVLP
Facebook: Dodd Design Studio
Instagram: @Dodd_Design_Studio
Quote: “Even though we were all set back with different kinds of challenges, it was nice to put my mind into something cool and fun to do.”

Julian Dodd

1st Place – Striping

Title: Quarantine Dream
Artist: Zack Felix, Felix Dezigns, North Las Vegas
Prize: $2,000 plus a SATAjet 1500 SolV RP
Facebook: Felix Dezigns
Instagram: @felixdezigns
Quote: “This art piece was done during the quarantine lockdown here in Las Vegas. I decided to do a heavy flake base with multi-colors representing the glitz and glamor that the Las Vegas strip is known for. I couldn’t find a better theme than this. At this point in our lives, we all have been dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, so I wanted to bring a little color to the darkness of the closure. It will always remain a great memory and kept me focused and vibrant.”

Zack Felix

2nd Place – Overall

Title: Spray Gun Jungle
Artist: Tom Stack, self-employed, Colorado Springs, Colo.
Prize: $1,000 plus a SATAjet 4400 minijet RP
Quote: “My hood was inspired by Greg ‘CRAYOLA’ Simkins’ art.”

Tom Stack

3rd Place – Overall

Title: Low Rider
Artist: Taylor Holmes, Trigger Happy Graphics, Lemoore, Calif.
Prize: $500 plus a Iwata lph80 mini gun
Instagram: @triggerhappygraphics
Quote: “When asked for his headshot, his response with his submission was, ‘We all could use a good laugh in these hard times, and this is my true personality!’”

Taylor Holmes

Wild Card

Title: Purple Mamba
Artist: David Zamora, Poulsbo RV, Kent, Wash.
Prize: $500
Facebook: David Zamora
Instagram: @davez4m0r40
Quote: “My main inspiration was RV graphics since it’s what I work on every day in a much different scale. I tried to break with the classic ‘lowrider’ straight lines graphic style and do something with a flow that not necessarily centers around the hood; which gives it a sense of transition and movement, only enhanced by the different patterns and highlights. It represents change, being different and evolving; taking risks and going outside of your comfort zone, since it’s the first time I decided to work on something like this. A great learning experience, thank you for letting me be a part of Hood Master.”

David Zamora

Crowd Favorite

Title: Wood & Lace
Artist: Brittney Thomas, Deluxe Kustom Paint, Oxford, Fla.
Prize: $500 plus a Satajet20B
Facebook: Deluxe Kustom Paint
Instagram: @bombshell_deluxe
Quote: “My design inspiration really comes from the old-school paint jobs in the 70s mixed with lowrider-style paint.”

Brittney Thomas

Social Media

Eric LeClair

Title: Skull Candy
Artist: Eric LeClair – Airkooled Kustoms, Hazel Green, Ala.
Prize: $250
Facebook: Airkooled Kustoms
Instagram: @airkooledkustoms
Quote: “I went into the booth with no plan/design. I just wanted to have fun and just let my creative muse take over and go with the flow, and I did.”