At some point during my high school years, I became very enamoured with the automotive art of Art Fitzpatrick, an American illustrator known mainly for the very successful Pontiac ad campaign which ran from 1959 through 1971. Mr. Fitzpatrick’s tight, ultra-realistic work seemed to set a high water mark in the genre. I soon found that I had a knack for it myself and seriously dreamed of one day working for a car company doing a similar kind of work. However, ability is one thing, timing is another.
Although Toronto’s TDF Studios did indeed have artists on staff whose job it was to paint cars for automotive brochures and advertisements, my application to work there was considered premature, since I had only just graduated from high school. I was advised to look elsewhere to find more interesting work than they could offer a junior artist, and perhaps apply again once I’d established myself better. In the end, however, I found work as a junior architectural renderer, and partly because photography had largely replaced illustration in the business, and partly because by the time I’d been working a few years my priorities had shifted, I by and large abandoned this ambition. I did in fact return to TDF for an interview some 15 years after entering the work force, this time seeking freelance work from them. By that point I’d come to realize that I’d never have lasted as a staff artist there (under a too-regimented, impersonal system), but all the same I sought extra freelance work instead. Ironically, they tried to persuade me to consider working for them anyway, but I politely declined, as I had built up my own business by now and was happy with it. A few years ago, the automotive bug stirred again, when I read a newspaper feature about an art gallery devoted to Formula 1 racing art and proceeded to arrange an interview. I had read about their commissioning artists to do ‘car portaits’, and, after being interviewed, was accepted for these occasional jobs. I had at last realized something of the dream, and have now done several of these portraits. The examples here displayed include some such portraits, as well as my own personal portfolio of pieces paying tribute to the tradition of automotive illustration, with particular reference to Art Fitzpatrick.