Hoop the King of art

Hoop began designing art cars in 1985, and often uses small foreign cars such as the Fiat 850, the Italian Isetta, the Volkswagen Beetle (the old kind) and small 3 wheel cart vehicles. He often covers his vehicles with what is called fun fur. Since it comes in many bright colors, it is well suited to his type of art. Hoop has created time machines, space traveling vehicles, vehicles devoted to luck, and even a vehicle that is a self portrait.

Hoop created the King of Art (and the requisite costume and crown) after appearing on some tv shows such as Richard Bey. It gave him a persona which made him stand out from other artists. Hoop is an artist by nature, producing not just art cars, but paintings, drawings and conceptual art as well. Hoop grew up surrounded by the Andy Warhol crowd that were part of the scene in east Village, and you wouldn’t need him to tell you that to know it. Everything about Hoop screams “artist” from his appearance and clothes, to his manner of speech and the way he carries himself.

Car & Driver has sponsored a wild car contest, and Hoop has won two of the top 10 awards. Why are art cars so popular? Says Hoop, “Take an art car, park it next to a Ferrari, and it’ll get more attention.” The latest project he’s been involved in is a follow-up to Harrod Blank’s 1992 documentary. Blank released a second book called Art Cars: The Cars, the Artists, the Obsession, the Craft. Said Blank, “At first people would have thought I was nuts. People would have thought Hoop was nuts. Now 20 years later, he’s a superstar in the art car world.”

Hoop has a collection of celebrity fingerprints, which is exactly what it sounds like. He would attend parties in the city and if he saw a celebrity he would ask them for their fingerprint. It’s amazing how may of them would comply. In his collection of celebrity fingerprints are such people as the Amazing Kreskin, Captain Kangaroo, George Plimpton, Curtis Sliwa, Michael Anderson (the dwarf from twin peaks) Uncle Floyd, Tiny Tim, Bill Boggs, Allan Ginsberg, Cousin Brucey, Al Lewis, Joe Frazier, and the original Kramer, Kenny Kramer.




When I asked Hoop to pose with his cars, he donned his Hi-Tek Hoop hat and a gold colored jacket. He then said, “I don’t feel like gold today, I feel like silver…” He grabbed a can of silver spray paint, and spray painted the jacket silver, and after it dried, he posed for the pictures…



Hoop dismantled this double ended van a few months before I met with him, but in this picture you can see the design is two van fronts married together, a rather Monster Garage type feat if you ask me. He told me that it always turned heads, and on numerous times he was stopped by the police, who would invariably go to the rear of the vehicle and then wonder where the driver was….This happened a few times in Montclair, but after the second time it was usually to have the officers picture taken with this most unusual vehicle. Much like the police of Long Beach are all familiar with Jessie James, I am sure most of Montclair is familiar with their resident art car artist.

Hoop is a big fan of public art, and stated that many times he would drive into the city in one of his unusual cars specifically for the purpose of leaving it parked on the street overnight so people could look at it and marvel. He would often leave the Good Luck truck complete with wishing well, and would find money throw into it. He eventually put a pad of paper and pen next to it, and sure enough he would find that people had written their wish down and throw the paper (and some money) into the wishing well.



Hoop entered the time machine into the weird car contest at the Lead East 50’s car show and came in second.

Hoops notoriety in this area of art caught the attention of Mattel, maker of Hot Wheels contacted Hoop about creating an art car related to their new series of toy cars” city heroes” Originally they wanted a design based around a taxi cab but Hoop immediately squashed that idea. “Fireman and police officers are heroes, not taxi drivers.” Hoop mulled over the design and finally settled on a meter maid car which he decorated with over 1500 matchbox cars and other car related toys and items. Mattel wanted the car in time for a toy show at the Javitz center. It was debated what would happen to the vehicle after the show but Hoop convinced them to let him keep it, and that he would display it at various art shows or art car events.


See all my Hoop pictures here

I received this email from Nathan:

I’ve got one for the Art Cars section. This interesting vehicle is in the Paterson Museum…


11 responses to this post.

  1. […] learned of Stephen Hooper via: Lost in Jersey; first learned of Sandy Sanderson via: […]


  2. […] the Lost in Jersey blog. There’s a couple more on that […]


  3. Ride onward Hoop and I may see you in February in NY! Go Hooooooop! See you Harrod


    • Posted by lostinjersey on October 31, 2010 at 9:57 AM

      hey I have one of your books! thanks for posting.

      and what event in February? is this something the public can attend?


  4. As founder of the Arizona chapter of the HOOP fan club, I am thrilled to see this great feature story & photos.
    Hoopy thanks,
    Hunter, from Art Car World


  5. Posted by ludmila sokolova on August 27, 2010 at 2:16 PM

    классно , просто супер! у меня есть знакомый удивительно но он мыслит в том же направлении как и hoop!!!


  6. Posted by sunshine on July 4, 2009 at 7:01 PM

    Hi Hoop! LOVE your stuff! I know i’ve met you at some art car event or another (Houston,maybe?) but I had no idea you had built so many wonderful cars! My first two art cars burned to the ground 😦 but I am now in the process of turning my Corvette into an art car. If you could send me postcards or pictures of your cars, preferably signed on the front, to contribute to the project I sure would appreciate it! my address is: Sunshine, 10188 Lake Blvd., Felton, Ca. I have about 20 postcards so far, but I need about 1000, so if you could encourage other cartists to send me card or pictures too that would be great!


    • Posted by lostinjersey on July 12, 2009 at 11:51 AM

      you’d have to contact Hoop directly to do that. I’m not him, I ‘m only writing about him.


  7. Posted by Ellen Heine on July 4, 2009 at 5:07 PM

    I love your art cars. Put me on the email list to receive your notices of shows.


  8. Posted by Todd on March 24, 2009 at 9:38 AM

    My co-worker was just talking about the new CAR AND DRIVER 10-best issue. I told him about the time (about 20 years ago) that I had a photo in CAR AND DRIVER’S “10 best Wild Things” competition. It was a BMW Isetta, painted funky colors, with black FUR trim, driven by a hippie-looking guy, and had the NJ license plate “HOOP”. I saw it on Rt. 3 somewhere. Nutley maybe. I’m from Glen Ridge. Anyway, I googled “Isetta HOOP” and was amazed/delighted to find your site.


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