- Q: How did you discover Dirty Car Art? A: I lived on a long, dirt road in Central Texas for over 20 years. Since our cars were always dirty, I would often “doodle” in the dust on the rear windows of our cars. My father was a great amateur cartoonist and I must have picked that up from him, because my natural tendency was always to draw funny faces. I started experimenting with ways to get shading. At first I would use the pads of my fingers and brush very lightly to get “grey” tones. One time I was chewing on a popsicle stick, and I tried using the chewed up end as a brush. I liked the effect, so I started trying paintbrushes, and eventually developed the techniques I use today. Nowadays, I use a rubber “paint-shaper” tool and assorted brushes (and of course my fingers).
- Q: How long have you been doing Dirty car Art? A: Although I’ve been drawing in the dust on the rear windows of dirty cars as long as I can remember, I’ve been trying to take it to that next level since the summer of 2003.
- Q: What is your favorite subject matter? A: I love trying to reproduce the old masters’ paintings, but really I’m willing to try almost anything. To me it’s not so much the subject, but the beauty of the medium that attracts me.
- What is the favorite piece you’ve created? A: The next one! (I stole that from Frank Lloyd Wright, but hey, if the shoe fits...)
- How long does it take you to create Dirty Car Art? A: It really depends on the complexity of the image. I’ve done pieces that took just a few minutes, and some that took over 6 hours to complete. The average time is between an hour and a half to three hours.
- How many have you done? A: A lot! Photos of most of my work can be seen on my website, www.dirtycarart.com
- How long will Dirty Car Art last? A: It’s a bit surprising that the wind and turbulence caused by driving down the road really doesn’t affect the drawings much. But a good downpour does! Sometimes I will have to wash off an old drawing to prepare the car for the next, just depending on the weather. As a Dirty Car Art piece ages it changes, as morning dew, light rain, the addition of more dust (and even our cats skiing down the windows!) affect the image. I enjoy that process and sometimes very interesting, and wonderful things happen.
- Aren’t you sad when the rain comes and washes off your hard work? A: Not really. I may sometimes feel a little twang of regret, but really it’s great, because that means I get to do another one! The impermanence of this art form is one of the things I really love about it. For one thing, it helps me to not take it too seriously and to really have fun with it. But most important, it reminds me that all of life is transient, that we won’t be here all that long, and to really enjoy the wonder and beauty while we’re here.
- Q: How do you make money with Dirty Car Art? A: I'm hired by ad agencies, PR firms and event management companies to demonstrate at events, do "stunts" and create work for ad campaigns. I also do quite a bit of work at art shows, festivals, auto shows, etc. I am also available for private events.
- Is that mainly how you make your living? A: I have full-time job as a Graphical User Interface Designer, although the future might see Dirty Car Art as a full-time gig for me.
- What is your background? A: In addition to working in various jobs, I’ve been a free-lance illustrator and graphic designer for almost 30 years, and have taken commissions for portraits, murals and sculpture and have done a bit of theater set-design. I’m also a musician, playing as a drummer in bands since I was in my teens, and have composed and performed music for theater. I'm married to my wonderful librarian wife, Robin, and we have a beautiful, talented daughter.
- When you do appearances, do you have to find a dirty road in the area? A: Although I really love a “natural canvas,” sometimes it just isn’t practical to find a dirt road and drive around for days collecting dust. It takes about a week and a half to build up a proper “canvas.” If you try to do it in a single day, the dirt just falls off the window. There’s something about the passing of time that’s required for a window to build up the right kind of layers. So I’ve figured out a way to apply dust to the rear windows of cars to simulate the effect of a car that’s been out on the back roads for days. I can prepare a vehicle in about 10 minutes.
- What kind of responses do you get when you drive your cars in public with art on the back? A: Almost everywhere we go, my wife and I get folks gathering around our cars to take pictures and ask questions. More than once we've stopped at a stoplight and the folks in the car behind jumped out to take pictures with their camera phones. One time a guy in a pickup truck blocked me in as I was leaving the grocery store parking lot. He apologized, but asked me to stay there while his daughter went back in the store to buy a disposable camera! People are always fascinated with impermanent art. Robin and I both enjoy answering questions and seeing the reactions.
- Do you get to travel? A: Dirty Car Art has taken me to London, Istanbul, Lisbon, Mexico City and Vancouver & Toronto, as well as all over the U.S. I love getting to travel and see new places, and sometimes I’m able to share my adventures with my wife and daughter.
- You’ve become rather famous; how did that happen? A: As I would finish a piece, I’d take a picture of it and send it in an email to a few friends. One of those emails found its way to John Kelso at the Austin American Statesman. He called to ask for an interview, and I said “sure.” I figured my mom would get a kick out of my being featured in one of his famously funny editorials. They put the article and a small gallery online and it just went viral. Pretty soon, my work was being featured on blogs all over the world.
- Did that surprise you? A: Oh yeah, I mean, who would have thought people wanted to look at dirty pictures on the internet? (badoom)
- Have you been in the media? Yes, in magazines around the world including Maxim, Car & Driver and the National Enquirer, in newspapers such as the new York Times and the Sun, and on TV in the US, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Japan, South Korea and Germany, including the History Channel’s “Modern Marvels, CMT’s “Country Fried Videos” and The CBS Early Show.
- What’s next for Dirty Car Art? A: I’m just waiting for a part in the next great Super Bowl commercial! Seriously, I’m exploring all manner of applications for this unique art form, from retail store fronts to giant images on office buildings. Stay tuned!
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