First Fridolin after 25 years

I’ve been doin car art and VW art in particular for 2 and half decades.  My start is another story for another post another day, but just suffice to say, dues have been paid in spades.

In any case I actually got a chance to to a Fridolin!  “What’s a Fridolin?” you ask.   It’s like an ultra-rare VW ex-mail truck thing that everybody in the hobby wants but since only like 8 exist in the USA there’s only like…well…I guess 8 cool people.

This is one of 2 extremely rare vintage VWs I’m doing for the Eliot brothers that put on DubSplash.  Super cool cats.  I hope to go to the show.  Honored to get a shot at one of these.

Here’s a pic:

vw fridolin vw art

and here’s the render vid:

Buses by The Bridge 2018 Event Art Recap

Every couple few years I get a shot at doing the artwork for the Annual Buses by the Bridge event in Lake Havasu City, Arizona.  The show organizers are good friends and it’s fun to do a full cartoon design.

Before I get into this recap, I need to thank Cory “Screamin Eagle” Houck and Ronnie “Disco Boogie” Feitelson.   Freedom of design is a great gift to give a designer.  Thank you for entrusting me and keeping me grounded when I was bouncing off the satellites.

Also I need to send some love to John “Legend” Howard, Denise “D-Train” Howard, Art “White Version of my Dad” Lyons, Launa “Falana” Lyons, Bob “Soul on Ice” Bolen, and Mona “The Rock” Bolen.  You guys always have my back.  I appreciate your support, but moreso, your great friendship.

OK…here we go.

The Finished Art:

vw tshirt drawing cartoon car show
This is the 22nd time this event has been held.  I swear it feels like 50 though.  It is one of the signature mainly VW bus events in the country.  There’s nothing like hundreds of buses and many hundreds of “bus people” gathering for 4 days!  Much joy is had by all.  They also raise much funds for charity and it really is a community effort.

Contine reading

Cartoon GTO Automotive Illustration in Photoshop with video.

From Animal to Animal

I was fortunate enough to be able to attend art school here in Tucson in the late 80’s.  At the time the school was called The Art Center of Tucson.  It has since grown and is now known as the Southwest University of Visual Arts (SUVA).   We were schooled in more traditional methods of illustration and design.  Computers were just coming onto the scene so we did layouts by hand, marker illustrations, inkings with rapdiographs etc.  It was a blast.  Our class was a mix of many cultures, including the “act like we didn’t have no damn sense” culture. :)  As it turns out, my future wife Carole sat in front of me in class.  The instructors and admin referred to us as “THE ANIMALS” a moniker we took great pride in.  Well one of my fellow Animal classmates was this guy named Colby.  He was soooooooooooo funny!!!  A little crazy like all of us, but a seriously talented illustrator and a good friend.

I was honored when he contacted me on FaceBook and asked me about doing a cartoon of his 2004 GTO.  I took on the job and it went extremely well.  It was nice to stretch my legs a little and have some fun doing something that had a little more meaning to me.


cartoon car drawing


I have my recording system working well now so I was able to capture the entire process and turn it into a series of speedpaint videos.  You can watch them all below.  Total time is about 20 minutes but It’s split into 6 videos…makes it easier to digest.  Enjoy.

I’m pretty pleased with where it landed.  I got to remember a lot of the good times we had back in art school.  I’m glad this happened.


Florida Bug Jam 2016 Car Show T-shirt/Poster Art

Last year I got to do art for the 2015 Florida Bug jam.  It was a Star Wars influenced design and it went over extremely well.  When I got the call this year there was a little intimidation.  It’s hard to follow up STAR WARS!!!  I mean, that’s like coming on stage to sing after Mel Torme or  Blossom Dearie!  Tough order for sure.

It was cool cause the expectations were lowered and most folks understood.  That however did not stop us from going with a Marvelesque theme and putting our best foot forward!

car show t-shirt art

This is where the design landed.  It was a blast to get a chance to be creative and give my take on what these heroes would drive.


car show t-shirt art

As always I started out with a rough sketch.  I know it’s very plain, but I saw the entire design at this stage.  The rest of the steps are below.

Contine reading

Car Show T-shirt Artwork: Portland Roadster Show 2017

I got a message on my facebook from a guy who said he was from The Portland Roadster Show!!!  At first I thought he was pulling my leg so I started to cybernetically hang up, but he was in fact the real deal!  I have heard of this show before so I was pretty happy.  Turns out my good friend and amazing screen printer Mike Hertz of “Designs of All Kinds in Washington state referred me.  The client was a great cat to work with and though I stumbled out of the block, we ended up in a very very good place.  So shout out to David for the opportunity and trust.

Here’s how it went down.
car show t-shirt artwork

The Final Layout:

The design was intended to speak to the rich history of the car show as well as the location.  Portland is super cool city so finding elements to represent in conjunction with the automotive illustrations was pretty straightforward.

automotive illustration automotive illustration automotive illustration

The Copper Caddy:

Now if you’re a car nut that’s been living under a rock for the last decade, I can understand how you might not know of the Utah based car builders Kindig It.  For everyone else, you know this car.  I’ve seen it on TV several times and it is definitely one of the top builds in the USA.  I was admittedly intimidated but I just put on some groovy tunes and let the pixels fall where they may.  After all these years, learning to believe in myself and my art is still a thing.  I was very happy with where this one landed, and that made the rest go much MUCH smoother.

automotive illustration automotive illustration automotive illustration

The Rod:

Drawing a hot rod for any car show t-shirt is always fun.  I normally try to do them buttoned up as the engine work can be a pain in the Cintiq (my drawing tablet).  In this case the drawing went super smooth.  I had started on another hotrod initially but David wanted this one so we just flipped the script and made it happen.  The depth in the paint was especially fun to capture.  Much enjoyment was had on my end.  (hmmm…that sounds dirty…you know what I mean though.  :) )

automotive illustration automotive illustration automotive illustration

The Merc:

Any automotive illustrator that says they don’t love drawing a lead sled is either lying or not telling the truth!  I saved the sled for last as a sort of reward.  There’s something very “good feeling” about those long lines, especially in profile view.  Sometimes subtle beauty is the best beauty.  I enjoyed this one greatly.

car show t-shirt artwork

Final Thoughts:

You know, not much more to add.  It was a huge opportunity and I’m glad I was able to get it done.  New equipment helps, though the learning curve was greater than anticipated….(there will be a post about that for sure).  This event takes place in March 2017. I hope to clear my schedule so I can attend.  Once again, huge THANK YOU to David for the shot and Mike for the referral.  This goes in the “Feel Good” column.

You can find out info on The Portland Roadster show here.  If you can go…GO!!!  :)


The 2015 Florida Bug Jam Art Mega-Post

Alright…I’m gonna tell you somethin. Every since I was a kid I’ve always considered any space based movie or TV show connected. I mean, heck…it’s space! It’s infinite!!!…billions and billions of galaxies. It has always made sense to me that Yoda and Starbuck could be in the same time, just different places. Truthfully my affections tend to gravitate toward the brothas in space. Don’t get me wrong, Buck Rogers was the man, but Boomer on Battlestar Gallactica was my boi!! I think it’s just a subliminal connection thing. I fully realize that Boomer was not the star, but to me that was his show. It’s a lot like Issac on The Love Boat. Anyway. car show tshirt

That being the case I have on many many MANY occasions thought about how cool it would be to kick it with Lando Calrissian, Worf, Twiggy (Yes he’s a robot but he’s a brotha), and Chewie. You know…we’d be chillin, sippin on 40oz. Colt 2745s and talkin about how hot Princess Armada from Buck Rogers was. There’d be a knock on the door and Jar-Jar would be all…

“Meesa lika having some 40’s withums yousa homies!!”

And we’d be all… “Naw playa it’s cool. For real tho, the Ewoks are 2 floors down, go chill with them. They got Coors Light.” :)

Having had thoughts like that since I was a child, one can only imagine my excitement when I got a call from a guy named Randy to do the Star Wars based themed artwork for the 2015 Florida Bug Jam!

The Job

Randy is a cool cat so our conversations went well.  He began by explaining that he wanted a cartoon design that was both VW and Star Wars related.  He got about 3 sentences in and I cut him off because I was ready with an idea instantly!  He laughed at my enthusiasm as my voice got all high pitched and squeaky with exuberance.

I’m a Star Wars fan…have been since Episode 4 which I saw for the first time in the balcony of a historic theater with my Grandmother when I was a wee tot.  Note:  That’s the same Grandmother that fed me art history books and was instrumental in building my passion for art in general.  I miss her.  Awesome, Awesome lady.

car show tshirt vw

They already had some lettering done by one of Randy’s employees named Harrison Hunter Hedman…no joke.  Both Randy and Hunter were great throughout the entire process so things went smooth. The concept was pretty simple.  Make a bug an x-wing fighter and make a bus a tie-fighter and then incorporate them into a design.  I swear I was sketching before I hung up the phone.

The Build

The art followed my normal path.  Sketch, scan, enlarge, redraw on the light table, cry because I feel inadequate and pathetic, scan, print out blueline, tighten up on light table, crawl under the table and assume the fetal position while sucking my thumb, emerge, fight through the linework, feel better, scan, ink in photoshop, have fireman talk me off the ledge, then render.  Pretty routine.

X-Wing Bug

car show t shirt vw   car show t shirt vw   car show t shirt vw

On the Bug X-Wing Fighter I thought a lot about Porkins in Star Wars Episode 4.  You know…he’s in the rebel camp, eating a sandwich, watching Adam West Batman and the alarms go off.  The fishhead commander gives a vague battle plan which includes the impossible act of shooting a missile or whatever through a hole with a 2 foot diameter while you’re travelling at ludicrous speed. Porkins hops in his fighter, brushes some crumbs off his windbreaker and 6 minutes later he gets blown up by Vader!  What a rip!  I honestly believe his character had more to give.  I wrote George Lucas about it like 11 years ago, he didn’t reply…I’m assuming because he knows I’m right.  :)

The Bug shape was a pretty natural fit.  I decided to keep wheels and just tuck them for flight so maybe Luke and Leia could use it to go to the drive-in on Tatooine and smooch. (Note:  She wasn’t his sister then.  It became creepy after the fact.)  Overall it landed pretty well so I was happy.

Tie-Fighter Bus

car show t shirt vw   car show t shirt vw   car show t shirt vw

The Bus Tie-Fighter required a little more thought.  I didn’t know if I should do a Bay window bus or a Split window bus.  Splittys are considered the more desirable in the hobby but there are more Bays on the road, at least out here.  The tipper was the fact that I could write BAY-DER on the Westfalia top of the Bay. Many times my ability to giggle when I see something wins out.  I pulled a lot of reference for all these pieces as I wanted to make sure there was some accuracy even though it was a cartoon.  In the end the Bus landed ok too so I was above the desk, not under it and feeling good.

car show t shirt vw

For the layout it seemed like conveying some action would be a good thing.  I didn’t get to include my “pew-pew” noise but a battle scene and a VW modified Death Star seemed to fit it well.  In the end the design was received favorably so that was cool for me.  There was a lot of shares socially and hundreds of shirts sold online prior to the event date.  Yay.

I got to do a Kahrmanneum Falcon too!  It wasn’t on the design but it, and all the original sketches were auctioned off for charity at the event.

vw bug wars

The Show

So…My wife, Carole  had an in home commission in Louisville, Kentucky and that’s only a 2 hour flight from Dade City, Florida so we made a 13 day trip out of it. We spent over a week in Kentucky in this old Victorian house while she painted a horse for her client and I worked on my stuff.  It was cool.  We actually got to meet American Pharoah in person!  I touched him!!!  He was also the subject of Carole’s painting so it was beyond swell. Her painting came out awesome and her client was thrilled.

horse art carole

I portabilized my entire system so I was able to do work for my clients and drew another Bug Wars pic using a laptop and my tablet.

car show t shirt

We flew to Tampa and rented a 2015 New Beetle and drove to Dade City for the weekend. The Florida Bug Jam was huge!  Very HUGE.  I’ve been to many West Coast shows and this one dwarfed them.  Randy and his crew were amazing.  They had a Poker Run and police escorted cruise to downtown.  There was a big stage and great bands playing.  They built an offroad course for the buggy guys to go get dirty in.  Valve cover races, food, prizes, vendors, beer, camping (Hi Charlie and Susan!!), plus so much more.  It was nice to see different cars and see how they build out there as opposed to how we build out here.  I have many many ideas for my car now.

vw bug wars

I met Tanya of FP!!! Twice!!!…Don’t ask. :)

vw bug wars

Coins rocked.

vw bug wars

Someone said 800 cars…I don’t know…a lot though!

vw bug wars

All OG Split

vw bug wars

Corn Hole boards.

The shirts came out very very nice and sold like Alderon Hot Cakes.  The trophies were sic and everyone seemed to be having a good time.

Now…it was hot…not Tucson hot, but Florida muggy hot.  The temp was 87 and I think the humidity was 400%!!!  I’m not used to that at all so I had some issues.  I didn’t understand why I was sweating at 9am and all I was doing was standing there signing stuff.  I told a few people that guys in Florida must only pick up chix between January and April cause there’s no way you can be a smooth operator under those conditions.

vw bug wars

I likes the donuts.

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VWs as far as the eye can see.

vw bug wars

I rode in Russell’s Bus during the parade. He didn’t know me…I just hopped in.

vw bug wars

Cool trophies.

All in all though, it was a great event.  I was blown away by the hospitality and the energy of the people there.  Randy and his staff were excellent.  Running an event that large is hard and they deserve applause for their efforts.  I was honored to be there and experience it first hand.  If you get a chance to go to The Florida Bug Jam…Go!

Oh!  My sister verified that Twiggy is a brotha, she says his walk says it all.  I think we can all agree that Dr. Theopolis was not a brotha though.

Whew….ok…I think that about does it….time to kick my feet up, open a can of Colt 2745 and watch my boi get blown up by a nuke in Starship Troopers.

Till next time.


Why the Utah VW Classic makes me think of Kate Pierson…oh, and how I did the art too.

So…who’s Kate Pierson???  She’s one of the 2 female singers in the legendary  band, The B52s.  It matters a whole lot to this post because I did have a reoccurring dream about the B52 girls for like 14 years.  It wasn’t dirty or nothin, we just sat around a table talking about regular stuff.  The cool part was everything they said, they said in harmony.  It made me very happy to hear them talking about how I should lace my shell toed Adidas in perfect unison.  I’ve been a B52 fan since I was about 12 and music plays a huge role in my little existence…it’s core.  So when I got the call from my client and friend Tony Brown (best man-hugger ever!!!)  to do the art for the 2015 Utah VW Classic, I jumped at the chance.  I’ve done this job for the Utah Transporter Association a few times before, including last years design which went over really well so I was excited to give it another “go”.

One of the things I like about the job is the fact that they give me a lot of line.  They might have a general idea, or concept, but they allow me to get down how I get down and that is always nice.  I have been going through a lot of life changes so I ended up taking a bit longer than I wanted, but Tony was patient and understanding and supportive…(see?  more friend than client…Thanks man.)  So when I finally got through the issues that had me all “Art-stipated”  It was nice to get back to this.

car show t shirt

The design came out ok for me.  Knowing that KCW (Kustom Coach Werks) is onboard was an added bonus.  JJ of KCW is da man!!  If you don’t know…find out!  Amazing work…no joke.  I think my buddy Ben is kickin it with those cats up there now.  I hope he sees this.  Tucson misses him.  Great guy.

Getting back to the whole “let me get down how I get down thing…”  I have a couple good friends in Lake Havasu City Arizona.  One is a total legend.  he was a founder of the world famous Jerome Jamboree and a founder of the equally world famous Buses By The Bridge event, and as if that wasn’t enough, he likes summer sausage…with or without cheese!  His name is John, or VW Howard, super cool cat.  If you ever get a chance to meet him you can email me and tell me how right I am.  Another good friend from Havasu is my buddy Art.  Now…he doesn’t know this, but I figured out why I like him so much.  He’s cool.  I mean like smoooooth cool.  I couldn’t put my finger on it, but man….this guy reminds me of my Dad!!!  No he’s not black and doesn’t wear Star Trek boots (to my knowledge), but this cat reminds me of my Dad.  First time I’ve had that since my fathers passing, so Art holds a very very cool spot with me.  Next time I see him we’ll laugh…that’s cool too.

All that being said I thought it would be fun to draw my 2 Havasu buddies buses for this event.  I’m secretly hoping this will encourage all the London Bridge Bullis (Havasu Bus Folk) to make the trip up to this show.  Utah is beautiful…nuff said.  I know all the LBB would have a blast and enjoy the trip.

None of that however explains the whole Kate Pierson B52 Utah tie though.  At this point either me or my keyboard is schizophrenic, but wait…I smell what I’m stepping in.  Utah is known as the “Beehive” State (see the beehive in the design?) and when I think of Beehives all I see is Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson of the B52’s sitting there with their amazing beehive hairdos, talking to me in harmonic unison about how to apply charcoal dust with a q-tip to a car drawing, or agreeing with me when I present my argument that “Dirk Wears White Socks” is the best Adam and The Ants album of all time!

Ahhhh…that felt good…just like this piece.   :)

Huge thanks to Tony and the entire Utah Transporter Association  that run the Utah VW Classic, and big thanks to John, Art, and especially Kate for letting me attach a tad of my weird to you.  :)  If you get a chance to go to this event….go.  These are great people.

Here’s a bunch of the steps I took in doing the drawing.  Enjoy!

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You know…Kate’s latest album is available on itunes and Amazon.  here’s one of the vids I dig from it.  :)

New Aircooled VW T-Shirt Available: Plein Air-Cooled

“Plein Air-cooled”….Just because you’re an air-cooled enthusiast doesn’t mean you can’t be cultured and well versed in the arts.  :)

Click Here to get yours.

vw t shirt

This is the first design in the Plein Air-cooled series.  The original art was hand drawn using charcoal and carbon pencils on hot press bristol board.  The artist didn’t wear one of those funny french hats but he was reminded of some of his favorite artists from back in the day.  The term Plein Air refers to painting or creating art outdoors, but when you combine it with Air-cooled it just means cool, unique and fun art wear.

This design is available on 2 colors.  Delacroix Green, and Honore Grey.  (Note:  The actual names are Military Green and Sport grey, but they didn’t sound artsy enough so I made up a couple names.)

It is available in sizes Medium thru XXLarge.  (XXL costs $3 more)  Please allow 2 weeks for shipping.

Click Here to get yours.


Buses By The Bridge 2015: 20 Years of Awesome

If you are in the air-cooled hobby at all, the Buses by the Bridge event in Havasu City, AZ is an event that has taken on almost mythological proportions.  It is by far one of the largest and and most revered VW Bus based events in the U.S.  I’m fortunate to have been given a shot at doing the art for the 20th annual show.  It meant the world to me to be asked not only because of the magnitude of the event, but because the show organizers are  dear friends of mine.  I don’t have a lot of people that I get to be “without my armor” around, so this is one of the gigs that kinda sits “on Olympus” for me.  :)   Here’s a quick look at what went down.

buses by the bridge car show tshirt art

As always I break out my trusty zebra tech pencil and attempted to sketch the idea that was presented to me by the notoriously infamous Ronnie F of Bustoration fame.  I’m pretty good at extracting the vision from a clients head and turning it into a vision on paper.  Ronnie  understood what he wanted and through a little back and forth we got there.  I appreciate his candor.  Sloppy sketch aside, it was fun.

buses by the bridge car show tshirt art

I’ll skip all the little steps and get to the first comp.  Historically this event has used a very similar design every year.  A few years back I got to do the art and it was cool but it was more of a “me” take.  It went over well, but it didn’t hold the tradition like it should have.  This time I went back to the roots, I mean damn….20 year old roots!!  Gotta stay true I figured.  It ended up being a decent call.  The uncomplicated loose toon look of  buses rolling over The London Bridge fit the bill.  The buses didn’t belong to anybody in particular, I just thought they were cool.

buses by the bridge car show tshirt art

In the second comp I locked it all down and cleaned up some elements.  A few years ago a big balloon launch became part of the BBB weekend so it was important to get that element in.  There’s a lighthouse that is a spot of importance at the event and I added a duck, like I did last time I did the design.  I know there is some significance, but I forgot the back-story.  If you go, ask VW Howard or Corey…they know everything…EVERYTHING!!

buses by the bridge car show tshirt art

The next part was relatively easy.  I opened Photoshop and broke out my crayons….(note: I pronounce it “KRANZ”….Merica!!)  I know the color for 20th year stuff is platinum or emerald but it just didn’t fit and it’s so hard to get greens in title text to work on multiple colored garments.  The color scheme just kinda built itself.  I mean I was painting it, but the cosmos made the decisions, I was just there.  :)  These low res jpgs don’t really show the crispness, however if you go, get a shirt and a poster and you’ll see.  It landed OK so in the end I was good with it.

buses by the bridge car show tshirt art

buses by the bridge car show tshirt art

I don’t know how many color options there will be, and I don’t know how much extra goodies will be produced.  I do know that I saved and signed every original element of the design in it’s pencil on paper form and I will be sending the originals to the show organizers to use however they see fit.  It was an extremely cool gig for me and I want to thank the London Bridge Bullis and all my Havasu City friends for giving me a re-shot.  This one mattered.  Thank you guys.