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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.
I will begin highlighting a few of these artists beginning with this post. Other artists will follow. Some names will by now be familiar. Some will be new to you. In either case, enjoy the stories and experience their talent by checking out their work. Don’t forget to share this page to spread the news about automotive art.
Today’s spotlight is on Danny Whitfield.
Danny grew up in Detroit, Michigan and started drawing early. His affinity for the automobile led him to a career with Ford, General Motors, and other 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 expanded its vision yet to see this type of artistry as a valid genre.
Since then, and determined not to be held back, Whitfield continued to do his fine art pieces and broadened his efforts to have the automotive art genre be more greatly accepted. As a result, he is seen as a key artist in moving this art scene forward. His work has been featured as wall hangings, posters, published 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 Mustangs and Fast Fords (among a few). He’s even had Jay Leno and Bob Lutz as clients.
I reached 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. Anything 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…?
My absolute favorite is Winsor & Newton Designers Gouache paint. The paintings just come alive when using this type of paint. The colors are so rich and vivid, the cars look like they’re popping off the illustration board.
Your drawings have had my attention for a long while now. Could you define your style of Drawing?
I start with drawing the line work of the cars and backgrounds on the illustration board or canvas. Once I mask off the areas of the line work I apply the paint using an air brush. Once I have everything created, I scan the art into a software to bring them even more alive. I am able to change the color of the car, and add to the backgrounds or change them.
What has been your most challenging piece to date?
The old Packard’s, Dusenberg’s, or basically any vintage automobile. Those cars have wire wheels, tons of chrome and very intricate details that can takes 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 2016-2017 Corvette Z06
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 feeling! It was like the first time you got paid 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 arena?
Grow and study your customers. They are the people you are doing this for if you’re going to do it as a living. Contrary to popular belief, you CAN make a living at selling art but it doesn’t happen all at once. It takes patience. Understanding what your customer’s likes and dislikes are is very important. This is done 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 the computer and the internet. Gone are the days when art galleries, museums, auto publications, and magazines dictate your career. With the internet you go directly to your customer and build a large audience. With a properly designed website, social media, cars shows, and events you are in control.
Danny Whitfield’s art career covers over 40 years. Although his strength has been automotive related, he has also done architectural structures, interior design, appliances and furniture. So, his breadth of knowledge and ability to convey it is vast.
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 many artists he has inspired and respects.
Like what you see? You can purchase this high quality art print right now at Danny Whitfield.com
Email Danny for inquires at firstname.lastname@example.org
You see the smile on Antonio’s face? That smile is worth a million dollars! Why? Because like we say, A happy customer is a satisfied customer! This is how we do it here at Raceway Ford and The Automotive Art of Danny Whitfield Black Friday is around the corner – get a print for the gear head in your life at DannyWhitfield.com
The perfect gift for the car enthusiasts Purchase now at Danny Whitfield.com
Dedicated to my friend Marie-Christine von Löwenherz for her love of pink Jaguars.
Chrysler’s “Most Beautiful Engineer,” and the industry’s forgotten sexist history
By Justin Hyde | Motoramic – Fri, Dec 13, 2013
Last week’s promotion of Mary Barra to chief executive of General Motors marked a major milestone of the first female CEO of a global automaker. What may be just as remarkable was how Barra made the climb: as a mechanical engineer, a field once all but closed to women in Detroit. Sixty years ago, the Motor City’s most well-known female engineer was promoted for her looks into a television model rather than allowed to work in the field she’d chosen — and the forgotten history of Lucille Pieti, once dubbed “Chrysler’s Most Beautiful Engineer,” demonstrates what’s changed, and what hasn’t.
Pieti was a Detroit native who showed a flair for math and science in high school, and after graduating high school in 1944 signed up for engineering at nearby Wayne University (now Wayne State.) Pieti was popular — she was named Miss Wayne U her last year — but also harassed; male students would play pranks like painting her drill press pink, and engineering professors would suggest that “girls” who graduated would have promising careers as secretaries, if they didn’t get hitched first. At 18, Pieti also began a co-op program with Chrysler, the traditional route for engineers to join the automaker which was poised to rebound in the years after World War II.
How rare was Pieti? When she graduated in 1950 with a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering, she was not just the only woman in a class of about 300 engineers, but perhaps the first woman to get that degree from the school. Two years later, a national survey found that 0.17 percent of the nation’s engineering graduates were women; Pieti was literally one in a thousand. She told Parade magazine in 1954 that getting hired by her Chrysler boss even after six years of co-op work was a challenge, despite a labor shortage: “The toughest part was convincing him to see me and then to give me the job. The rest of the work was nothing that any woman couldn’t handle as easily as a man.”
But Chrysler, like most industrial companies of that era, had no plan to give Pieti or any other woman the same career opportunities as her male coworkers. Instead of traditional engineering assignments, Pieti was sent to the technical writing department, a ghetto for the few women in the field with no chance of advancement beyond marriage. And it was while doing internal presentations that her bosses came up with the idea of capitalizing on Pieti’s beauty.
“If you think of a mechanical engineer as someone who sports greasy overalls and a colorful vocabulary, Lucille would be an educational experience for you. Modish and slender, she has a soft voice, come-hither hazel eyes and dainty white paws tipped with rosy nail polish.” That was the women’s editor of the Miami Daily News in 1953 ahead of Pieti coming to town with Chrysler’s “New Worlds In Motion,” a mini-auto show that Chrysler barnstormed around the country. Pieti was often a star attraction, tasked with explaining tech advancements in layman’s terms while Chrysler touted the beauty of its single, twentysomething engineer to the press. (Among the cars she promoted: the Dodge LaFemme, a model the company said was made “By Special Appointment to Her Majesty… the American Woman.)
From Cars magazine, July 1953
Pieti proved adept enough at working the crowds that Chrysler decided to raise her exposure further. In Apri 1954, Chrysler’s Plymouth division signed on as sole sponsor of a new CBS sitcom, “That’s My Boy.” For commercials, the company moved Pieti to Hollywood, and had her perform live, televised versions of the talks she gave on the road to actors. As Edward Malone noted in his 2010 history, she stood in a garage set, wearing tailored white overalls, occasionally with grease streaked on her face for emphasis. Pieti’s fame soared, and she made an impression in Hollywood: “If you’re an example of what’s being turned out in Detroit, I’m going back working on the assembly line,” Groucho Marx said.
And while there’s no records she ever turned down a Chrysler assignment, she rejected all offers to dump the engineering career she’d now been chasing for nearly a decade in return for a shot at stardom. “I’m just the slide rule type,” she told a Detroit newspaper while staying at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. “Without the micrometers and the calipers and the tools of my trade I’d be a pretty lost girl.”
Cars magazine, July 1953
Here’s where Hollywood would rewrite Pieti’s narrative with her using her fame to make her dreams come true and stump the old-boy network. But Pieti’s story was written by Detroit instead; when”That’s My Boy” was cancelled in January 1955, Chrysler simply moved Pieti back to her writing job, with the additional tasks of answering customer complaint letters — work that she increasingly saw as a waste of her engineering talents. After getting engaged to her husband, petroleum engineer Jim Milne, Pieti quit Chrysler in September 1955. She got married, raised two children, and returned to engineering in 1977, this time for an oil company in Saudi Arabia. She died in 2011 at the age of 84.
Today, women make up a quarter of engineering, science and technology graduates, and Barra joins a growing list of women who’ve used their technical degrees as a stepping stone into the executive suites. Yet among automakers, Barra remains an exception; there’s few other women in line for roles such as CEO; there’s no other woman at another automaker who oversees vehicle development as Barra did for GM. The path ahead may not be as clear as it should be, but for today’s young Lucille Pietis crafting a career in engineering, they have far more examples of how to avoid getting lost along the way.