Zen and the Art of Desk Shopping

danish for you

While I mainly go to IKEA for the umlauts and other groovy punctuation, it’s those… how shall we say it? “Other People” that ruin the continental flair and experience.

For your consideration: I find myself in need of a new desk (don’t ask… that story, my friend, will be in the book), and, being on a budget (read as “I draw shit for a living and seriously re-live my vocational missteps every hour on the hour”), well, Scandanavian press board and clinical depression are my decorating themes. Some dudes build cool cars and wear $400 shades. I cry a lot and build my furniture with really small Allen wrenches. But that’s not the (whole) point here. Anyway, fitting some European Shopping Extravaganza into the day requires some planning. Ours went like this:

“Mmm… that was good dinner. Hey, you know that lean-to that I call a desk? The crunching noises from within have grown louder, and my monitor is showing a serious starboard list. I’m about out of room to prop more mailing tubes and boxes under it. I fear for my life, if not my legs.”

“Let’s get you a new desk. By selling your body last weekend, we have almost enough gas money to get there and 2/3 of the way home. Do it three more times, and we can get blueberry waffles next time.”

Off we head, post meal-time to IKEA, getting there about an hour before closing. Enough time to round up the 89 separate, but flat-packed boxes that make up the desk top and leg-like fixtures (no, we didn’t opt for the “In This Combination” serving suggestion, as we don’t have anything nice enough to display on some fancy “shelf”). We’re headed to the check-out in record time. Mind you, I’m enjoying the shit out of the near-empty store, and still managing to get caught behind the slowest walking human being on the planet. It did give me time to check out a lamp that looked eerily like my Grandma’s bathrobe, though.

We arrive at the checkout, and I quickly move to the register with only one customer, completing her purchase. Score!

“Not so fast!!” booms the universe. “…and don’t bother to bend over or remove your pants. I’ll just have my way with you as you are.” The universe and I have a sort of thing like that. I exist, it treats me like its bitch.

For whatever reason, this customer ahead of me has identified an issue, and is making the plans to fix it. By now, the line next to us has grown to a near half-million souls. Or at least eight bodies, three possibly holding souls, one not of their own. But I digress. This customer is now having the cashier contact some department. Now, you’d think that, at damned near 8:30 PM on a Monday night (a Monday night with an eclipse, no less!) that this woman would really have her shit together. I mean, she obviously had a list and some design sense, considering the mish-mash of random shit she threw in her cart, so this question must be of burning importance. I mean, she looked kinda all-together.

While we never did find out what the issue was, we did, however, spend ten minutes watching the situation unfold, and saw not only the inter-departmental phone get used a couple of times, but a cell phone was brought into the endeavor, and at one point, a slide rule. You could hear, literally, the cashier’s soul breaking into a thousand splinters of sorrow. Ironically, that is my family crest: A thousand broken splinters of sorrow on a field of blue tears.

Now… the point here is that in any normal place of business, someone would have said “Hey! What say you step on over to the Customer Service Desk (“Boopinscorpin Skeepinskoobin” for those of you who speak Swedelandish), and have them try to figure out just what in the fuck it is that you’re making so complicated. I mean, after all, look around. This place ain’t exactly the Engineering Lab at MIT. Our motto here is, um… something in Swedish or Danish or some shit, but I’m betting it has to do with shutting the fuck up and going over to Customer Service so that this line can get a move on. Thanks, and try the meatballs! Oh, wait, you can’t, because you took so long with whatever the fuck the problem was, and now the restaurant is closed! You’ve ruined it for everyone. Tell your cats we said hello.”

Suffice to say, dejected customer lady scowls off, and we manage to check out with only the issue of me having to move the pushy broad behind me back enough to actually scribble something illegible on the credit card thingie (“Kredishmoopoo Florgin”, again, for those of you speaking the language of the muppet chef), and complete said transaction in less than three minutes.

In conclusion (or, as the foreign would say, “Fin”), we managed to traverse the Valley, find our purchase and make it to the register in record time, only to be right back in our rightful place on the moebius strip. Right behind Jane Q. Slowwalker and her confused friend Ingrid. Moral of the story: Adopt some Zen into your workplace, and do without the fucking desk.

Print of the Month… and Extras!

first print of the month

If idle hands are the devil’s workshop and whatnot, just imagine what bored, angry eyes could be. While there is a certain validity in considering a B-movie about Marty Feldman’s reanimated orbs running rampant and slaying hundreds (give me a shout and we’ll write the script), we’re not talking about some fictitious scenario here… We’re talking about the potential for your eyes to become so bored, so absolutely tired of your walls that they turn on you.

What would stop an angry, vindictive eye from going cross just as your Employee of the Month photo were snapped, or even willing the lid to close, rendering you without depth perception at a crucial moment? Yes, you need to keep your eyes happy.

We can help.

Introducing our nifty new Print of the Month Subscription.

Yes, it’s not simply like getting a new print delivered to your door every month… It’s exactly like getting a fresh new print delivered to your door every month. In fact, there’s no “like it” at all. It’s precisely “GETTING A NEW PRINT DELIVERED TO YOUR DOOR EVERY MONTH.” Brilliant, we know.

Imagine:

Your barren walls, aching for some neat-o, automotive art-based decoration.

Your eyes, plotting to steer you directly toward that rogue pile of what you’ll hope was dog poo.

You, pondering one of the great mysteries of life. “Oh how could I ever score some fresh automotive art each month… namely an 18×24-inch, beautiful print to hang on my wall, which would be delivered to me, and save me some cash at the same time??”

We have you covered.

3 month subscription 6-month subscription 12-month-sub

For less than the retail cost of a print, we’ll send you a new one every 30 days or so. Hell, we’ll even eat the shipping. At that point, you’re well ahead. But like most great things, there’s always a but. In this case, it’s a…

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!

While you’re thinking “I’m such a lucky bastard to even have this offered to me!”, we’re plotting to potentially make you an even luckier bastard.

Each month, we’ll select a few subscribers at random, and send those “Lucky Bastards” (it’s like a club, but without all of the dues and fanfare and meetings, and crappy shiny nylon bowling jackets) a random item from the Studio. Yep… one random item. Could be a worn-down pencil, a book, a video, some odd trinket we snatched-up at a show, or even a napkin doodle. Ponder the excitement you’ll feel as your print arrives, and with it, there’s a sketch, or another print, or some… Jell-O. Ponder away.

So there you go: A print every 30 days, for 3, 6 or even 12 months, and you save some coin. Heck, you may even make off with a future museum piece from the fabled Studio. Don’t want to keep all of them? Stash ‘em for gifts, and save time later on! Why not give someone you love the gift of a print every 30 days? They’d be like “It NEVER STOPS! My eyes are so happy! I’ve never had better depth perception!”, and you’ll save more the longer you subscribe. It’s absolutely mind-boggling.

Check it out here:
We have ‘em for domestic (should you live in the continental US): http://bit.ly/NrLHC5

And international (should you be some richy-rich movie star and live in an exotic land like Italy or Alberta):
http://bit.ly/1epSSRp

Not sure where you live? Google yourself, maybe. Can you see yourself on the satellite view? Perhaps even street view? Outstanding. What if you can’t see you, but maybe someone you live with? Your car? How about a familiar landmark you might pass each day? Come to think of it, this may not be the correct way to go about things here. Perhaps it’s best that you close this email, and seek some guidance, if you’re having trouble finding where on the planet you live and all that. But if you do know where you live, by golly, hooray for you! Sign up now using the link that best describes the location of your domicile.

And there you have it. We’ve just saved your life. Or your shoes. Or, heaven forbid, some body part you didn’t want placed somewhere due to failed depth perception… AND given you a great idea for a movie. And possibly, even, directed you to discovering just where on Earth you live.

That is precisely why a woman reading a well-known magazine one time described us as “Givers”.

You’re welcome.

Pulling out all the stops, and laying out some groovy little extras for the “Print of the Month” shipments. Kinda weird to design a campaign for yourself… I’m my own worst client.

first print of the month

Why not subscribe, and get some great art at a cheap price, and see this crap in person? Your walls will thank you.

And should you be concerned, the forest has assured me that it will continue to grow more trees as we need them. See that? You can help keep the forest AND ink gnomes in a job, and away from the streets. Think traffic is bad now? Imagine the roads clogged with trees and brightly-colored creatures. It’s a circle of giving. Do some good, you selfish bastard.

Speedhunters Feature

hot rod artist

I was stoked (and honored, and humbled, and still kind of speechless) to be chosen by the great crew at Speedhunters.com as the subject of an interview for their recent “Inspiration” theme! Go figure… me.

office

Keith from Speedhunters dropped by the studio for the afternoon, and we had a blast, talking cars, design, inspiration… We talked about workflow, and the past year, which was incredibly full of good things. To say that I am still floored by of that would be an understatement.

I wanted to share the article here as an opportunity to hopefully inspire anyone out there who may find themselves in a similar situation as mine. I truly hope that it inspires anyone who is ready to simply pack it in, or move on and leave a dream behind to hold on, and push ahead. To follow through, no matter what obstacles may get in the way, and to find a way through, around or over them. Granted, I’m no poster boy for having a positive outlook, but I’ve been fortunate enough to be surrounded by some great friends and family who push me non-stop, and have far more patience than I ever will. It’s been a long road, and there’s certainly a lot further to go, but I’m learning to keep at it, no matter what. While it’s hard to make something this private a public topic, if it helps just one person make a go of it, well, that’s brilliant.

That said, take a look, if interested, and please share it with someone you know who could use a little boost to get over that hill, or to know that there’s always a way forward. You simply have to make the most of the hand (or hands) you’re dealt. Check it out here: www.speedhunters.com.

A Look Back at 2013

winna-winna

While many people operate on some arcane belief that thirteen is unlucky, around the Studio, we find that, like anything, it’s all in what you make of it. To say that 2013, when viewed as a product of the work invested, was a success would be an understatement. There was a ton of struggle, more late nights than ever before, and an absolute will to push things as far as possible, and the payoff was, to say the least, something to behold. We were stoked to see so much work from the previous years see light of day as completed projects, and watch as those projects really came into their own.

To say that none of it would have been possible without you, our loyal friends and fans, well, would be the truth! It’s tough to say “Thank You” in a way that could begin to illustrate our heartfelt appreciation here, but know that it means the world to us. Without you, there would be no reason to turn the lights on each day, much less keep them burning late into the following evenings.

That said, kick back, and take a peek at all of the cool things that you helped to create in 2013, and share in my counting of the many blessings that the year brought my way. I have a lot to pay forward in ’14.

Start at the Beginning

…we could Tarrantino the whole thing, however. Or even Peter Jackson it, and split it into three newsletters, using the second part to merely waste your time with a 25-minute chase scene which only serves to present an idea for a theme park ride. But we’re not so bitter as to do that.

The year kicked off with the usual rush to finish some projects which had slid over from the previous calendar, as they usually do. Completing some minor tweaks on cars that were set to debut, and winding down from a whirlwind of last-minute SEMA work, the year always heads out in a flurry of activity.

In January, the Torino took the first bow in paint in Pomona, setting off what would be a year of serious award-winning magic. From concept:
torino-big-flat.
..to finished masterpiece:

torino-me
(I made motor noises until Moose fired it up. Then I giggled. A lot.)

…the crew at Rad Rides simply pushed the envelope, and threw down some of the most incredible fit and finish ever. While it was spectacular to see the GPT Special become reality, and then to follow-up by sweeping the 2013 Detroit Autorama Best Overall Street Machine, the inaugural Barrett-Jackson Cup in Reno, the 2013 Optima Batteries Street Machine of the Year, and the 2013 Mothers Shine Award, the icing on the cake was seeing my youngest son’s excitement in, as he put it, “finally getting to sit in it!”.

My son. Sitting in a vehicle I designed, which just spent the year cleaning house at every stop.

Best. Feeling. EVER.

In Detroit, Nailed, Mark’s ’56 Buick swept into the Great 8…

buick

Such a fun project to play on, and one of those cars that is so well-detailed that you could spend hours looking at it, and then head back and see things you missed the first time.

booick-cityblk

It was neat, too, to see the original sketch for the car on rear seat at the SEMA Show in November:

buick-render

The new year continued to tear some fresh ground with a killer opportunity to blog for Dodge. And blog I did, by golly. It began with a trek to NY, and some massive support from our friends and family in the hot rod industry. To say that it was insane to witness (and be a part of), well… That’s an understatement. Between our family supporting the heck out of it, and good friends campaigning and pushing (hey Tim and Carrie Strange! That would be friends like YOU, for example.) non-stop, I nailed a gig doing something I truly enjoy: Writing. And talking. And writing and talking about cars, and the stories behind them.

brian-walk-NL
(exploring the 2014 Durango mere minutes after its debut. I was there first. Suck it, Ron Burgundy.)

In May, we nailed the first One-n-Done, working with the great guys at Porterbuilt to complete a front and rear Dropmember (and airbag and rack and pinion!) install in Broey’s truck.

one-done

In one day, with about 40 volunteers and friends, we accomplished the task, setting the stage for a number of gatherings geared to entertain, educate, and get some work done. Between the coverage in Street Trucks, the LiveCast and more soon, it was a success on many levels!

Following the amazing win in the REDLINE Dodge contest, I was swept off to some great events, like the All Chrysler Nationals in Carlisle:

carlisle

Even spent a few moments in the Hotchkis Autocross Taxi. Seemed like the thing to do:

…and the following road trip with Steve Magnante was a blast indeed. As we traveled up North, we stopped at Jerry Stein’s place to take in some history, and complete the Max Wedge overload that began in Carlisle:

garage-rt

…and continued with making some great (and occasionally awkward… OK, mostly awkward) memories along the way, with some great stops, including a tour of the Magnante compound. (you can check out all of that in detail HERE)

road-trip

The next trip would find me in Detroit for the Woodward Dream Cruise, and a chance to fulfill a childhood dream: As a kid, I was obsessed with Steve Lisk’s Hemi Challenger, and swore to one day cruise that famous loop in a Hemi Challenger myself. Check that one off the bucket list (much, much more on this to come).

3-car-woodward
(that’s me on the left, tanning my left arm!)

Thanks to the great folks at Dodge and Ignite Social Media for making the dream come true (and for the metric ton of memories and experiences along the way that made the past months absolutely surreal). Much more on that soon.

me-and-arv

While in Detroit, I finally got to meet my good friend Arv (go and become a fan of his HERE) in person! I’ve had the pleasure of knowing the man for many moons, and we’d never been able to connect in person. He and his lovely family took time, and we managed to connect at the airport, as I was heading home. While it was a quick visit, it was one of those fantastic moments that I’ll always remember. He’s a supremely talented human being, and I’m humbled to be able to discuss art, design and so much more with the man.

sick-secs

September hit, and the year just got crazier. Sick Seconds, the 1969 Camaro I had worked on with Pro Rides/Denny Terzich, and now owned by Tom Bailey, ripped five consecutive six second, quarter-mile passes, capping the event with a 6.70 at 217.42 MPH. When I coined the name for the car some years back, it began as tongue-in-cheek… Proud to not only see it live up to the moniker, but land a spot in the record books, as well! Not too bad for a 3100 lb. car yanking a trailer 300 miles per day. 2013 was nailing shut so many open chapters for me, it was getting crazier to watch by the moment! Topped the street machine segment, and blew the doors off (literally) the on-track part of the show. Hard work was paying off!

quickest_fastest

Come Fall, things were a whirlwind, working double-time to keep up, and working on a ton of projects set to debut this coming year… and, wouldn’t you know it, SEMA was heading in fast. I was stoked, as I’d have a few marquee rides on the floor, and I’d be attending with my friends from Dodge and Ignite, so my experience would be drastically altered from years past! I saw the show in a different light, to be certain, and made some great new friends, and got to spend a little time with some of my oldest ones, as well.

Heck, I finally shook hands with my pal Max. Known the guy for years, and have had some amazing (and amazingly weird) conversations with the man, collaborated on some fun projects, and my wife and I wear rings he milled by hand.Yet, until that week, I had never shook his hand. Or been asked to be anyone’s ‘badge buddy’ before. Check another off the list:

me-and-max

Design-wise, I had a few items on the floor.

pantera-thoughts

The Pantera hit the floor with a vengeance, and created a buzz that echoed through the week.

pantera

It was certainly a different project to have worked on, and the creativity and level of ingenuity shown by the Ring Brothers raised the bar yet again!

pantera-sketch

Got to spend a few moments with Sam, who took a break from buying some very historically significant rides, well-preserved, ultra-low-mileage Lambrecht Auction vehicles, and building some clean machines to wander Vegas and pose with my goofy mug by Nailed while at the show:

me-and-sam

The SEMA Show wound down with the Torino grabbing the Mothers Shine Award, capping a stellar season in grand style.

shine-awardage

Following SEMA, it was a quick blast back home, a few days hosting our pal Tim Strange, who was in town for the Goodguys Southwest Nationals, and the annual Git-Down at Dino’s, which I’m proud to have created some artwork for again:

dino-2013-tee-shirt

Highlighting the Goodguys show was seeing Nailed and the GPT Special on my home turf:

two-winner

…and that about wraps up 2013 here. My sincerest thanks to everyone who has been with us from day one, and to the supportive family and friends I’m blessed to be surrounded by. Without you, I certainly wouldn’t be doing what I do, or checking dreams off of my list at such a pace!

May the coming year be nothing short of incredible, healthy and happy for you and all those you care about, and who care for you. Make some time to appreciate those around you, and never, ever give up. If there’s anything this year taught me, it was that. NEVER quit. Enjoy the smallest moments, and keep marking those little things off your list. We’ll check in soon, and thanks for taking time to do likewise!

Drawing FURY-ously

v2-fury

Hey guys. It’s been a while, and I apologize for that. Today, I’d like to roll out another tutorial, this time, drawing a slick, slammed Fury. This will be an analog (or “traditional”, whichever you prefer) piece, so bust out the pencils, paper, and markers of your choice (I’ll be using Copics, but virtually any marker will do here), and get drawing!

Laying out the guidelines… At this stage, some loose lines to place the key parts of the composition are all that’s needed. Perspective lines give us an idea of where things will be placed, and give a general feel for scale and proportion as well.

car drawing tutorial

I start to tidy-up the car at this point, bringing in a little marker to darken-up the shadow areas, and make permanent those lines I wish to keep:

vehicle rendering tutorial

Blocking-in some gray tones. Just some loose grays to start giving the piece some depth. Key here is deciding which forms will recede in space, and which will be left up front. I also spend a little time defining the car’s shadow:

marker rendering tutorial

Cleaning-up some of the stray sketch lines, and adding some color to block in some lighting for later. I like the work to appear translucent, versus having just color planted atop more color (which can get awfully muddy-looking), so a little color washing at this point pays off HUGE later on:

how to draw a car

I bring in some color to the car at this stage, tightening-up the shading and lines… While the whole image is loose, I like to have certain areas (like the wheels) show a bunch of detail, to draw the eye in and around the work:

car drawing tutorial

A ton of time spent blocking-in color, and implying some brick on the storefronts. Blending is the key at this stage, and using it in a restrained manner can help to give not only a nice, loose feel, but make the lighting and shadow appear more natural, versus blocked-in and forced. I tend to work from the lightest to darkest areas in stages, moving back over and into those areas that need richer or darker tones:

final rendering

This is another ‘static’ tutorial, meaning no video. I thought it best to present a few basic tutorials in this way to give you a reference, without any distractions, or need to search for a particular step. This just seems a better way to get you up to speed on the essentials, before we move full-steam into the more advanced tools and techniques. It’s a quick overview, but take your time, and work on controlling every stroke you lay on the page. It’ll pay off in the end.

Old Stuff… and a Wiser Me.

SCAN0100

Pyramid amp? Check.
Gold-anodized valve covers? Check and check.
Acid-washed jeans? Double that check.
Mullet neatly combed? Check.
King Kobra blasting through those Jensen 6×9’s? Need you ask?
Let’s head back to 1990.

There we were, the wife and I digging through boxes of memorabilia and assorted keepsakes and whatnot (read as “cleaning up the back room in the Studio again”), and she stumbles across a number of goodies that sparked some serious synapse activity. There’s some serious goodies in the boxes (amongst the crap I’ve tossed out, and useful stuff she donated), and many will hit the auction block soon… And a few will be made available to collectors, or those seeking to start a museum, finish a collection of their own, or even annoy your own wife by bringing home more stuff… whatever.

street machine nationals

That said, check out this nifty bunch o’ stuff from the old Street Machine Nationals East days:

street machine nationals memorabilia

What’s really cool here is the all-over print Beretta tee. It’s damned-near mint (the logo on the chest is showing some age, but still, it’s unreal), and is just a killer tee in its own right. There are wrist bands, a vehicle pass from the ’89 edition, a gate ticket, and a complimentary pass, too. I kept a lot of stuff.

wrist bands

complimentary pass

gate ticket

The tie-dye looking shirts have more wear (in sales lingo, that would be “genuine vintage” look, not some crappy filter), and are Large in size. I had, honestly, thought these were long gone.

street machine national t-shirts

There’s also a dash plaque from ’93 (with a matching lapel pin)…

dash plaque

This stuff had somehow escaped my eye for a long time, and by fate or whatever other mystical intervention, the box with these items has made it through numerous cleanings and the subsequent purging rituals of “Hell, I never even open that box… throw it out!” days. Is is destined to remain in my Studio, passed down from generation to generation, where, eventually, on an interstellar trek to a distant galaxy in some 400 years, my great, great, great, great, great, great, great (oh, you get the idea) grandchild will spill grape jelly on it, and ruin almost half of a millenia of preservation… with preserves, ironically.

Suffice to say, it sparked some heavy cruising down memory lane… These were the days when cars were built for fun, and the whole mood around the fairgrounds was one big party. Very few egos, not much in the way of “power parking”, or showing off how big of a check you could write, or whole you could dig with credit and multiple mortgages. Pro-Street was well into the wave of excess, and, oddly enough, the cleanest, simplest cars were getting more and more looks, thanks to guys like Scott Sullivan.

Kinda makes you almost eager to accept big hair, acid-washed jeans and loose cassette spools again, just for the atmosphere. Bare-bones street machining. Crank windows, avoiding potholes because drag shocks lacked certain, um, handling characteristics, the scent of racing fuel the clatter of solid lifters (just over that tick from your leaky header gaskets)… scrounging wrecking yards for an HEI distributor or that alternator bracket… The REAL good times indeed. The times that inspire slack-jawed response from today’s fairgrounds folks.

Let’s ignite that mood, shall we?

It’s some interesting history indeed, and heck, we may even package it with some era-specific listening materials (read as “cassettes”), and frame ‘em for wall decor! Instant conversation pieces!

Here’s some video to get you in the mood:

…if we find some era-specific shorty-shorts and neon-colored ball caps, would it sweeten the offer?

Speaking of shorty-shorts and mullets… here’s some video my friend Kurt shot while we cruisied the mighty Chevelle (see below — I mean for the car… not so much Kurt. If that were the case, we’d have a whole other series of blog posts, and this would get really confusing) around the grounds:

I’ll spare your eyes (and my self esteem) by not showing you what I looked like in those days gone by… But here’s a peek at what I was driving back then:

chevelle street machine

…and thinking I was all cool, posing the car with a trophy queen. Between this brilliant idea, my mullet, the acid washed jeans and high-top sneakers, and my neon-framed Wayfarers, well, I was a dork. I’m older now… and probably slightly wiser, as well, but the old days still bring a bit of a warm feeling (unlike what you’d get wearing shorty-shorts). Things were good then. The cars were fast, the music was loud, and all was right somehow.

Even if I was a dork.

Throwing a Dart!

project businesstime

A quick pick-me-up for the start of your week, with a bold, bad Dart…

I had gotten the call from Tommy at Musclecar TV to sketch some visuals for the pro-street Dart they were planning, and got all sorts of psyched. After all, here was a (mostly) overlooked car, being built in a style I love… Throw on some plans for a blown Hemi, and I was lost in thought. Here was a shot to work with a good friend AND throw down some Dodge muscle with a historical twist! The very stuff I live for anyway!

The starting point was a decent little 1974 Dodge Dart…

dart before

…not too shabby, considering. This was, in fact, the very sort of car my friends and I had in (and just out of) High School! A mild street machine with some hefty goals.

Tommy and I decided early-on that the car would be bold, and we’d rely on classic Rapid Transit System colors, and some form of a Hemi billboard graphic. I had suggested keeping that graphic simple, so that any enthusiast could create a striking call-out at home. After a ton of deliberation and experimentation, I arrived at a mix of retro cool and modern style (with just a little pop) that could be replicated by hand, or by use of an inexpensive vinyl mask, which could be made in any local sign shop, and provide professional-looking results at nearly all skill levels. Here’s a peek at the colors we were narrowing-down:

dodge colors

…and the final decision? Sublime Green, of course:

project businesstime

It was a blast to explore the potential of the car, and to call on the storied history of Dodge with such a fun car. After all, when you drop the name ‘Hemi’, ears perk up. When you add ‘blown’ to that word, it gets even more interesting… and when you decide to wrap it all in a bright green, pro-street Dart, well… Need I say more?

Be sure to check out the build episodes here: Big Bad Dodge, and dig the way the guys incorporated my drilled bumper idea!

custom dart bumper

Speaking of Dodge, I have a shot at winning a gig writing for Dodge on their blog! I was selected as one of five finalists, and flown to NY last month (read more about that HERE if you’d like!) to wander the New York International Auto Show with representatives from Dodge and Ignite Social Media (thanks again!), and film a walk-around with the just-debuted 2014 Dodge Durango. The competition is in the final leg, and I hope that you’ll take a moment to vote for me (Brian S.). You can do that here https://bit.ly/XUMXLO through May 7… And you can vote once per day, every day, and I truly appreciate your support in helping me to not only get a great break, but bring the passion to a HUGE audience each week, and win some great prizes, as well!

Thanks, as always, for looking in!

An Alternate Flight

bird-flight-sr

Being a physics aficionado, the theory of multiple dimensions holds a special place in my brain. Couple that with a love for all things science fiction, and my synapses light up with boundless ideas and tales of the bizarre.

This in mind, I had been imagining for some time a ‘what-if’ scenario, pondering what may have happened if AC Cars had not lost their engine supplier, and if NASCAR wasn’t a primary thought on Ford’s mind in the early 1960’s. Season that with a punch of willingness to make the Thunderbird more of a world-class performer, and you can see where this is headed:  The ultimate, alternate-dimension barn find.

bullet bird gt car

Taking the above into consideration, behold the final iteration of the winningest Thunderbird on the opposite side of the space-time bubble. Wearing the shorter, half-width windscreen, we’re obviously looking at a pre-GT car, and this monster is complete, right down to the dirt and grime from it’s final race. While later cars would be fitted with the mighty big blocks, this 289-powered ‘Bird left many a European car behind, engulfed in the shriek of its high-winding exhaust note and dust.

While these cars lend themselves extremely well to the custom treatment, I’ve always pictured one as a track car, and by drawing inspiration from the race cars of the day, I couldn’t help but plot a course for this T-Bird which involved some down-home innovation (like the widened fenders, flip-nose, headlamp covers and full-length hood scoop), and setting it up as a well-preserved chunk of history brought out into the sunlight following a long roost.  That said, consider this my proposal for a melding of ‘street cruisers’ and ‘pro-touring’ with some heavy vintage racing feel that anyone on the fringe would be proud to pilot…

(you can find this artwork, and the accompanying article in the May 2013 issue of Street Rodder Magazine)

Driving the Redline

redline-blog-lead

If you follow along on the site or Facebook, you no doubt know that last month, Brian was flown to NY as one of five finalists in the Drive the Redline Dodge contest, thanks in part to the huge response from all of our loyal friends, fans and family. This is a shot to write for the Dodge blog for six months, and the opportunity is HUGE, not only for this little venture, but for the hot rod and automotive art industries at large… With such a huge audience, this could be a great opportunity to spread some knowledge about our side of the car world, and bring some attention to the aftermarket, and the artists and builders who may never before have seen such large numbers of readers.

drive the redline contest

As part of the trek to NY (courtesy of the great folks and hosts at Dodge and Ignite Social Media!), we five finalists were filmed by a great (and understanding and patient… well, you get the deal, they were AWESOME) film crew, doing a walk-around of a new Dodge vehicle.

I was fortunate to lay hands on the all-new, 2014 Durango, which had, literally minutes before, made its world debut on the very stage this was filmed on at the Javits Center! History in the making! Very cool indeed… Yet I digress: What makes this thing so cool is that you can customize this monster in over 1000 ways before it even hits our garage! This is the perfect bridge between what we do (design custom vehicles), and the new car market. Personalization is almost unlimited from the factory, and I have to say it, there are details on the Durango which hot wheels turning for projects. You can see a video below.

Speaking of that link, this is where you, humble and valued reader, come in. I’ll need some votes to make this dream gig happen… You can vote once PER DAY, EVERY DAY through May 7. So please, vote every day, share this, and help land the Problem Child in the driver’s seat!

You can either head here: http://blog.dodge.com/drive-the-redline-dodge/, or or, if you’re on Facebook, directly to my entry: https://bit.ly/XUMXLO , or simply click the image below, and be magically whisked away, and drop a vote for Brian S., Gilbert AZ!

drive the redline dodge

Art of the Hot Rod: Weaving a Tale With Cars

street machine illustration

Since childhood, I’ve been fascinated with cars, photography, and motion pictures. Cars were something I had no control over being into. I was simply born with that gene. On my build sheet, someone checked the RPO for Car Nut, and the deal was sealed. But photography… capturing a moment in time… man, that sparked something in me. And motion pictures? Well, damn. Telling a story with a photo narrative, and having it grab that in an animated sequence? I was sold.

I studied Fine Art, and honed skills like drawing and painting, design… And then went further, studying animation and digital art, and finally working to apply these diverse techniques for creating imagery in one piece.

The majority of my commissioned work happens to be renderings, which, by nature, require strictly static images to supply some direction for a project. As a fan of both animation and painting, as well as someone who has always enjoyed writing and the thrill of crafting a narrative, well, you can imagine the turmoil which surfaces each time I grab a pencil or stylus or brush.

40 merc rear
There’s always the drive to take the subject that extra step… to get something to move in the image, to put it over the top. Some time back, I experimented with backgrounds in my renderings that included scanned and reworked splashes and splatters. They had that ‘frozen in time’ feel I was looking for, and allowed me to play with contrasting colors to get some visual pop and movement… And that laid the groundwork for future pieces, sparking inspiration to play with textures, atmosphere, and finally, crafting a story.

The idea, in and of itself, was straightforward. Simply create the setting for the story, and shove the car in there. Right? No… in my world, things have to be a bit more complex when weaving the tale or painting the image. I began taking notes on cars I’ve drawn, would like to draw, and those I simply find interesting.

I began to imagine where these cars might turn up… who would drive them.

Why they would drive them there in the first place. Inspiration began to strike.

merc story illustration

There was a way to connect all of the images, but have these little sub-plots running, and even include a car in each of these unique stories. I’d build the stories individually, but have some underlying theme carrying throughout an
entire series, or even a few series.

Game on.

The example above, showing that blue Merc was bouncing in my head for some time. I always saw the car as a bit sneaky-looking, even when designing it. I imagined the kind of guy who might drive it, where he’d go… inventing little stories as I sketched ideas and details, keeping those notes handy.

v2-boxster

Right on about this time, I took on the AutoWeek Magazine/Rad Rides by Troy 2012 calendar project. Twelve cars to be illustrated, creating some bad-ass, modern hot rods from new cars. Here it was: the opportunity to play with narrative, and work to tie a dozen cars, all different in their inspiration and beginnings, but having some underlying story, a connection that went just a step beyond simply being some cars I was designing and illustrating for a calendar.

custom miata

The challenge became finding a way to make them all work together, yet retain some unique identity. Then it hit me. A calendar helps to mark the passage of time. I would mark some passage of time with the cars, as well. I would break the year down as if it were simply one day. I’d tweak the colors to represent the cycles of the sun, the passage of seasons, and yet, do it in a way that presented itself as a single twenty four-hour span. I’d move around a fictional region, from urban to dry lakes and everything between, and pass time from dawn through nightfall. Each vehicle needed a place, a setting to complement its purpose, and needed to make sense with that particular time of day.

What a can of worms that was. Light shifting throughout the day, atmospheric changes filtering intensity of light, I had even considered altitude of each setting, plotting how the air molecules might scatter the light. I became almost obsessed with color and light theory. But I managed to pull it off.

But the work that led to that grand project only sparked a deeper need to weave some tales. I experimented relentlessly. I dragged old work out of the archives, and played and tweaked and painted and scanned and printed and brushed and sketched and repeated the process for months. I was on to something.

…of course, there were a few pieces that played to my inner nerd:

zombie hunter van

We all need to hunt a zombie or two now and then… and at this point, I was finding ways to craft an entire tale in one shot.

There’s a LOT going on in this image, from the lighting to the smoke and atmosphere to texture… But the key was in making it look simple.

Note taken:When creating the narrative, find the central theme, and work to craft a setting that slips the drama in almost secondary to the drama created by the car. One should brace the other, and tell the tale, but not completely. Leave a few gaps in the story. Allow the viewer to ask ‘how did the vehicle end up at this particular moment, and what’s around that corner?’ Misdirect on occasion, especially on two-panel works. This could be fun.

My little notebook speaks to me sometimes, and those late-night scribbles tend to be correct more often than not.

Additional note: Sleep-deprived self may be smarter than well-rested self. Definitely finds farts funnier.

Oddly enough, the images didn’t make it into the final calendar in the order I had hoped and presented, but the idea seems to have played off well enough. I was approached by people who caught what was going on, and were excited to have felt a part of the narrative and understood the story. Now we were moving into part two of the plan:

Involving the viewer in the tale.

After all, as a kid, I loved the Choose Your Own Adventure books. Brilliantly written in that you felt a part of the action, and a certain excitement at uncovering some side story or alternate ending that your friends may have skipped over. It was that personal involvement, that ‘look what I just found’, eureka moment that attaches someone to the art, versus simply saying ‘wow… neat wheels’.

cab's coupe

I began to find ways of making the cars live and breathe. Illumination of lamps, the light trace of exhaust… Those little things that allow your mind to fill in the blanks, to become a part of the story. After all, I wanted the work to become an almost captured memory. And memories play off of little sensory grabs: A scent, a picture, a sound, the feel of light mist as rain begins to fall on a cool evening. I wanted to offer art that was something more than simply a car in a picture. It needed to be a conversation piece. It needed to spark someone’s imagination much the same as it did mine.

kustom desoto

I had always made a habit of photographing odd things while on trips or vacations. I’d see things that interested me: Cobblestone streets, a tree, a lamp post, an alley, a door… I had a large archive of reference photos to draw from, and began to arrange and categorize them, and make notes, find uses for them. I’ve always hidden little things from my past in my work, from license plates to buildings, and so-on. I have even gone as far as sketching a city map, designing the layout of the main streets, side alleys, parks and neighborhoods where my tales would play out. A series was born.

buick

Like any tale, the players (both main and secondary) would cross paths. There might be drama, there may be harmony, but there would be interaction. I began to work with environments where I could present multiple angles and viewing points. I found that I could move this fictional camera around, and find another car hiding in the shadows, or show it from the reverse, and complete one small tale in two images.

drawing cars

Case in point, that Merc from earlier:

kustom merc

First frame: the car in an urban, industrial environment. A simple photo-perfect opportunity? Sure. But when we see the rear view, we learn that the car’s owner is on a late-night visit to a lady friend. Each piece can stand alone… but together, we have a tale!

Taking this idea a big step forward, it only made sense to completely narrate the scene, and add as much drama as possible:

tense2

…and the polar opposite:

western effie

…a quiet moment before that storm we see brewing in the background. A little foreshadowing of drama can have just as much impact as an all-out gunfight. All of those years spent studying Hitchcock are paying off: The trick isn’t always in heaping the big stuff into someone’s lap… occasionally, all you need to do is hint at it.

That all said, I hope you enjoyed a little back-story to the, uh, stories I’m trying to tell in the art. Look for more in this series soon, as well as prints… and a behind-the-scenes look and tutorial on making one of these. Thanks, as always for your time, and I look forward to your questions, comments and more!

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