Bendigo-based YBI-FX is one of the few remaining businesses in Australia that are continuing to pursue a ‘lost trade’ of the transport industry – traditional hand-painted truck art.
Haiden Oswald, who goes by his nicknames ‘H’ or ‘Oz’, is one such artist keeping this skill alive and kicking.
He had already built a reputation in the industry working with a number of truck owners when he joined the YBI-FX team in 2020 as the truck and fleet artist.
Drew Jongebloed, creative director of YBI-FX, who started the business in 2004, providing fleet signage and graphic design services to some of Australia’s biggest automotive, industrial and motorsport brands, is very proud of Oswald’s work and refers to him as the “FX-Truck Art component of YBI-FX”.
“I was familiar with Haiden at the time when YBI was founded, as his name had popped up for airbrushing awards while he started his apprenticeship under Darryl Maud at TransArt,” Jongebloed said.
“I expected our paths would cross down the track given the similarities of the industries in which we work.
“In 2020, we had some opportunities to develop the business so I got in contact with Haiden to see where he was at. He had worked for a couple of different sign shops in Bendigo and was operating Fleet FX on the weekends.
“To me I thought that was the wrong way around with his skillset. He had the passion for trucks and art, was a creative thinker, and we knew we could give him the infrastructure and a blank canvas to push the truck work in the direction he wanted and to its full potential, it would be successful.
“YBI has been supplying advertising, digital marketing and TV work for clients in the automotive and big wheel industry and this seemed like an obvious extension to our involvement in the industry,” he added.
Despite the changes in the trucking landscape over the years, Oswald wanted to keep this waning art alive through his work.
“During the early years of my apprenticeship at TransArt, we were painting some of the coolest custom trucks around,” Oswald says.
“Back then using traditional brush line and scroll and incorporating airbrushing. The industry has changed, but the traditional hand painted skill is something I never wanted to let go of.
“I always had hopes of getting it to the next level in terms of it being a fully operational business. I wanted more than just to paint trucks for customers though. It was about creating an environment for owner drivers, or the sales guys to come to us and be in a creative space, relax and just talk about what they want.”
Oswald’s name within the industry has seen him work with generations of truck owners. “We will get guys come in with photos of their dad’s trucks, or their grandfather’s trucks and want lines and scrolls based off those.
“There is a real passion in the industry for keeping new trucks ‘old school’ and that’s one aspect that I love about the conversations we have with our customers.”
Although there’s no Kenworth dealerships in Bendigo, the regional city gets a constant flow of trucks coming off the Kenworth line weekly.
“Between the trucks that come to us straight off the line, and Steve at TransAir who fit sleeper cab air conditioners, a lot of Bendigonians would be seeing Kenworth trucks coming into town with trade plates, no bull bars and no stainless work fitted. We essentially do all our work on them where they then head back to the dealer to arrange the rest of the fit out,” Oswald said.
“Depending on what our job entails for each truck, a full hand painted line and scroll can take up to two days, and if there are airbrushed murals or cab lines that need to be painted, then sometimes a truck’s work can take up to a week.”
Meanwhile, Jongebloed is working to expand his business by turning YBI-FX into a truck stop for customers. “We’re now starting to expand the services into apparel and merchandise for our customers so that when the truck is ready to hit the road, so are their T-shirts, caps and hoodies. All that adds more to the experience of just painting a truck and sending it on its way.”