What with the explosive escalation of labor and parts costs to build a collector car or do a proper restoration of a car or truck, collecting automotive art and prints may be a substantial alternative to actually owning a great automotive icon. Artists from around the world are currently selling great works, and you can utilize them in collecting reasonable and provocative car art. You just have to be willing to make the effort to find them. Perhaps this article may prove helpful to you in that pursuit.
It matters little what type of car or truck you love to follow. There are artists who have depicted your favorite vehicle in one form or another, and you can find those artists using the resources suggested here in this article. You may favor restored vehicles, or maybe custom cars, hot rods, muscle cars, pickups, legal classics, vintage racers, drag racing vehicles, vintage antiques, or even foreign sports cars. Trust me…..it has been rendered in oils, water colors, or ink art work by someone somewhere, and you can buy it now. You just have to be able to locate what you want.
Thanks to the wonderment of the internet, typing in just a few key words into your search engine can reveal page after page of resources to review. You don’t want to look at just the first page that pops up. You may find that the first five or ten pages reveal hundreds of sources of art work. Take time to look at a lot of these sources. Behind non-descript titles might lay fabulous renderings, many of which have found their way into the leading automotive magazines in America and other countries.
It amazes me how much it costs to get prints of the top art work when that art is done in color by a “name” car artist. Original works can run into the hundreds of dollars or even the thousands of dollars. But there is one way to enjoy it all much more cheaply…….buy the print of the original art. I know of famous painters who sell the actual original for $5000-$40000, but the print may cost only $35-$150 each. And the print may look every bit as stunning when hung on the wall and viewed from ten feet out. Many artists provide 10-20 printed renderings, while others sell up to 40-50 different prints on their website.
The artist who resides overseas from America can give you an exotic take on certain foreign sports cars and legal classics, and I find that particularly attractive if one is to diversify the type of vehicle held in one’s collection. Some of the greatest prints or originals of Ferraris, Mercedes Benz, Masserati, Lamborghini, Jaguar and others come from those who reside overseas. Their inspiration probably comes from national heritage or from photography taken at some of the greatest concours competitions held overseas. Of course, many mingle with wealthy car owners and use photography of the cars owned by their friends as inspiration.
Here in America, older cars have always held court in the arena of favorable public opinion, and there seems to be a tremendous surge in custom cars, hot rods, muscle cars, trucks, and drag racing vehicles specifically. It seems everyone is into nostalgia, and what better way to preserve it all than through art prints or originals. Outdoor and indoor shows across the USA are filled with vehicles that look like they stepped right out of the fifties or sixties. The automotive hobby is alive and well, thank you very much.
Ever hear of a “rat rod”? This is a fairly new phenomenon. These are cars and trucks that have been heavily modified, made reliable with late model drivetrains but don’t have much in the way of power accessories. And these vehicles are just as likely to be unpainted as painted. Primer finishes seem to prevail. If rat rods give the impression that unfinished is cool, they have succeeded in their message. And the lower you can make the vehicle by top chopping, body sectitioning, and chassis lowering, the better. Rust is the patina of choice, and headers packed with muffling steel wool (because there is no muffler system) is the order of the day. These cars and trucks look pretty obnoxious, and of course you’d be stylin’ to the max if you had tattoos up the gazzoo and your lady had a pin-up demeanor about her. Go to any super market or bookstore and you’ll see at least three or four publications devoted to rat rods. Be prepared to grin.
What did you drive in high school or slightly beyond? You’ll find artists drawing up a storm doing Chevelles, Corvettes, Mustangs, GTOs, Buick Gran Sports, El Caminos, Dodge Chargers, Rivieras, Gran Prixs, old shoebox Fords, early Mercurys, etc. And then there are the incomparable inline six-powered Chevys, Chevy stepside pickups, Ford and Dodge trucks, and the wide range of drag racing cars out there. Top fuelers, funny cars, altereds, gassers, super stocks, and modified street machines were all the rage from about 1957 through 1975 or so.
Where do we find these artists and their works? Well, start by going to your local bookstore and reviewing what is on the newstand featuring the current monthly series of car magazines. There are easily 30-40 different magazines out there, and it seems the editors can’t do some articles without help from an artist submitting a rendering or two to emphasize the article or accompanying pictures of particular car or truck types. Then there is the internet, within which you will find lurking all types of art, online magazine issues, and websites of the artists themselves. You’ll find great renderings submitted by such artists as Thom Taylor, Dave Bell, Kenny Youndblood, Rick Wilson, Steve Sanford, and dozens of other household names in car art.
Some artists produce books filled with art work by not only the author but by many others in their chosen field of influence. Thom Taylor in particular has some great stuff out there for you to research and view. My personal favorites are Steve Sanford, Dave Bell, Chip Foose, and Darryl Mayabb. Then there are the high end artists who produce iconic art depicting the greats in autodom, artists like Kenny Youngblood. And don’t get me started on all the tremendous artists who specialize in cars favored in car auctions and foreign racing cars. The list seems endless.
One of the deterrants to collecting auto art is price. Assuming the original piece is out of the question for you, your next logical step is to buy prints of original artwork. But there are choices here, too. Do you want color, or is line art without color sufficient? Colorization will lead you down a path of print cost ranging from $10 per print to $125 or higher. The problem with this is that everybody seems to regergitate the same subjects presented the way in the same size format. The best prices seem to come in the smaller sized renderings. This can be disappointing, to say the least, if you want a wall hanging to be of decent size and presence.
I personally prefer art that is a bit bigger than conventional 8″ x 11″ format. I like clean black ink art, whether it’sw colorized or not, and I want it to not have a busy background. This allows the vehicle to be the center of attention without distractions. I also want it to be large enough to be seen well even if I am fifteen feet away. Some folks like smaller art, and you can certainly reduce the size of your print at your local postal place. Most have great duplicators that will allow you to enlarge or shrink your print size. And make sure you get your print in a size where it is easy to find a frame to fit it.
So, where might I resource the largest choice of auto art? Galleries are a great start, and all you have to do is type in some key words in your computer’s search engine, like “custom car art prints, hot rod prints, drag racing prints, foreign car art work”, etc., and the search is on. You can also resource various leading car magazines, like Super Chevy, Hemmings Motor News, Hot Rod Magazine, Truckin’ Magazine, Classic Car Magazine, Lowrider Magazine, Rodders Journal, or even Jalopy Journal or H.A.M.B. (both one and the same), and you’ll be a happy camper. One source I love is HotRodHotlineNews.com. They don’t necessarily have art resources, but you’ll get an incredible car and truck fix that will hook you into that website forever. From there, you’ll get ideas about which art work to pursue in the open marketplace.
If you attend indoor cars shows or various swap meets throughout the year, artists quite often rent space and pass out cards and sell prints directly on the spot. It’s a great way to get your prints fast and be able to meet the artist in person. The very best artists take requests by doing special commissions for drawing your personal car or truck, or issuing a rendering of a vehicle type you desire and want to hang on your wall.
Prints have a great edge to them. You can interchange prints inside a wall frame and display piece. If you have several prints of the same size, you can change out your art work throughout the year so you don’t get bored seeing the same old thing every day of the year. Let’s say you’re into muscle cars. Get a Mustang, a Chevelle, a Corvette, a GTO, a Charger, a Challenger, a Cougar, and rotate the art throughout the year. It’s a great way to enhance your bedroom, living area, shop, or office. It’s a great and proud way to promote your interest in cars and trucks, even motorcycles. I am amazed how many attorneys, doctors, accountants, home builders, etc., display what interests them automotively by posting car art in their work place.
Along the subject of posting key words into your internet search, don’t restrict yourself by being shallow in the words or phrases you use. Let’s say you really dig custom cars and trucks. Don’t just type in “custom cars” and leave it at that. You’ll get a pittence of response. Throw out a variety of words and terms. Use commas to separate the terms/words, and do not put a space after the comma. Search engines work that way, so you should, too. In this example, I would type in……..”custom car,custom car art,custom car art prints,custom truck,custom truck art,custom truck art prints”……the results will surprise you.
A great source of art work in the automotive field is any website that might feature automotive artists worldwide. To find such sites, practice typing in key words in your computer’s search engine. You can use such words as “automtoive artists featuring hot rods”, or “automotive artists featuring muscle cars,”, etc. You can continue on and you will soon find multiple pages offered to you to review. It is critical that you take the time to review many pages and not just the top one or two. Most times, great sites which have just what you seek are buried along with other content, and they don’t reside in the first page or two under those key words. I have found great content by dedicating and hour or two to review content of the first 30-40-50 websites that pop up. If you find the first few give you the vehicle type(s) you seek, you’re lucky. And get in the practice of writing down the website URL’s that seem to be the most interesting to you. The content of these sites change, and you want in on the news several times a year. To be able to pop back into your favorite sites is priceless. Add those URL’s to your persoanl list of “favorites”.
I do automotive art, and I am forever amazed at how widely varied the prices and shipping and handling fees are. It pays to shop not only for subject matter and how it is presented, but shop to get the biggest bang for the buck. Of course, I expect the artists who have been out there the longest to command the highest prices. It’s just Hollywood… some get the most ink, so to speak, and they can claim a higher degree of pedigree with their art. I also look for art that is timeless. I want my purchases to look as timely and “with it” in ten years as they do today. Not many people seek a rendering of a 2010 Mustang, since subsequent ones might have more to offer visually. But, the iconic 1965-69 Mustangs will always have a huge following.
Pay attention to the artists who give you a discount off the print cost per piece if you bulk order multiple renderings. It is annoying to pay a full-boat fee to an artist who should be discounting to you. You weren’t a customer before, and you expect an enticement for doing business with the artist. The most aggressive artists eager to promote their works will offer this up front without being asked.
As mentioned earlier, many artists will do commission work for you. They can draw up a vehicle per your description, or better yet, they can do a rendering of your personal vehicle (past or present). All they need is a photo to guide them, and you’re all set. Turnaround time for completion should be 30 days or so. I try to do it quicker, but even a 45-day wait is not too much to ask. The best artists are going to be busy and you’ll have to “take a number”. These rates can vary from $25 on up to as much as maybe $120-$150 per view, so expect a wide range of charges.
If you don’t mind paying a fee on the higher end of the scale, you are probably going to get an artist who has a series of vehicles which have been built using his or her art work for the basis. That can be a big plus. Name artists attached to your rendering, resulting in your building the car later, can mean the difference in getting into a magazine feature story or not. Magazines, just like car owners themselves, are attached to their egos. That is why only a select few numbers of car builders, car designers, and car owners get their vehicles in the magazines almost guaranteed. That may not be a bad thing. Great art work leading to quality construction yields a superior show or street machine. The magazine crowd will pay to have that at their fingertips.
Well, I haven’t covered everything, but my experience with car people is that it doesn’t take a whole lot to light a fire under them. I hope I’ve lit a fire under you. Go out and treat yourself to some terrific car art. I hope you have enjoyed this article, and remember… cruise safely.