Automotive artistry has been around for generations.
This art though hasn't always been accepted by the established art aficionados of the world. In recent years, however, with the proliferation of social media and car collecting becoming a high dollar industry, automotive art has been coming into greater focus. More and more artisans have been coming out of the woodwork with their paintings, photography, sculptures, and etcetera.
Today's spotlight is on Danny Whitfield. Danny grew up in Detroit, Michigan, and started drawing early. His affection for the automobile led him to a career with General Motors, Ford motor company, and other auto design firms. Although he enjoyed creating fine art pieces, the art world didn't embrace him with open arms, initially. The industry for the most part hadn't broadened its vision yet to see this type of artistry as a valid genre.
Since then, and determined not to be held back, Whitfield persisted to do his fine art pieces and broadened his efforts to have the automotive art genre be more significantly accepted. As a result, he is seen as a key artist in shifting the art scene forward. His work has been featured as wall hangings, posters, printed in magazines, and highlighted throughout the internet. In fact, social media network growth has aided in ballooning Whitfield's popularity globally.
Strong testaments to Whitfield's acceptance in the industry have included an invitation he received to do a commissioned work for the National Corvette Museum, and artwork that's been printed in car magazines such as Hot Rod, and Muscle Mustang and Fast Fords (among a few).
In reaching out to Mr. Whitfield for a few questions. He was gracious enough to take the time to answer them.
The Q&A follows.
Art has been a part of your life since you were a young child. Do you remember how you started? To tell the truth, I got started at the age of 5. Everything I saw was a canvas to me, school paper, the walls in my bedroom, basically any flat surface with empty space I would draw on. My passion was the automobile and I drew cars every chance I got.
Your work encompasses several fields. What media have you used to create your work over the years? What's your favorite? Photography, oils, charcoal, paint, CAD, etc...? Well, when I crafted art on illustration board or canvas my absolute choice is Winsor & Newton Designers Gouache paint. The paintings just come alive when using this type of paint. The colors are extremely rich and vivid, the cars look like they're popping off the illustration board.
Your drawings have had our attention for a long while now. Could you define your style of Drawing? I start drawing the linework of the cars and backgrounds on the illustration board or canvas. Once I mask off the areas of the linework I apply the paint using an airbrush. Once I have everything created, I scan the art into a software to bring them even more alive. I am able to modify the color of the car, and add to the backgrounds or change them altogether.
What has been your most challenging piece to date? The old Packards Dusenberg's, or basically any vintage pre-1950 automobile. Those cars had wire wheels, tons of chrome, and very intricate details that can take months to create. But, it's worth the labor.
What is the newest challenge or inspiration ahead of you? As you contacted me a little while ago, I was right in the process of creating my latest production art piece. The 2020 Corvette Stingray.
How long was it before one of your works was first published? What did it feel like? Ohhh, you want people to find out my age, lol! It was 1989 and man what a sensation! It was like the first time you got compensated for your artwork. Nothing compares to that first paycheck. Well, my first publication was a news article and I must have made 20 copies of it at the time.
How would you encourage others coming behind you in the Automotive Art world? Grow and study your customers. They are the people you are doing this for if you're going to do it for a living. Contrary to popular belief, you CAN make a living at selling art but it doesn't occur overnight. It takes patience. Understanding what your customer's likes and dislikes are is very crucial. This is accomplished by publishing your best art and waiting for the positive responses from platforms such as social media, blogs, and much more. Speaking of social media, the best tools you have is a computer and the web. Gone are the days when art galleries, museums, and auto magazines dictate your career. With the internet, you go directly to your customer and build a significant audience. With a correctly designed website, social media, and sales channels, you are in control of your destiny.
Danny Whitfield's art career comprises over 40 years of experience. While his specialty has been automotive related, he has also accomplished architectural structures, interior design, appliances, and furniture. So, his breadth of knowledge and ability to deliver is enormous. Whitfield's future aspirations are also grand. He has a vision for a museum of automotive art. It would of course include his own work, but also that of the numerous artists he has inspired and respects.