Well I think it all started back in the 70s growing up in Warragul, (named after the local aboriginal people), a country town near Melbourne, Australia.
You can blame the 70s for a lot, but at least in our town it meant a fair bit of automotive activity. Admittedly a lot of that activity centered around custom vans, but there were some nice rods in town too. So as a kid, many of my first car drawings were of garishly painted vans with huge fender flares, and I am quite disappointed that I haven't kept some of these.
I kept drawing cars through high school, but the real outlet came when in 1989 I started a degree in Industrial (Product) Design. Here I really started to learn to draw cars, despite the emphasis being on toasters, kettles, hairdryers etc. New cars were considered ok, but my projects were leaning heavily to restyling old cars. This was frowned upon and towards the end of my degree I had to appeal to higher powers in the university when one of my lecturers refused to give me a mark for my major subject. He didn't believe that restyling and hotrodding vehicles from the 60s was a valid area of study... luckily the Dean of the Faculty did and I even received a degree with distinction.
Fresh out of University I started to do art for car shows and t-shirt transfer companies in Australia. The income was initially supplemented by graveyard shifts at 7-11. After a few years of drawing a lot of old Holdens, (General Motors Australian brand), the opportunity arose to live in the USA.
In late 94 my wife and I married. She's an occupational therapist and in early 95 the USA was experiencing a shortage of them. It seemed like a good idea at the time and so we moved to sunny Pinellas County Florida where I continued drawing cars, but now for more American clients. In early 96 we moved again as I had been offered a job doing automotive art for a t-shirt company in Minnesota. In Winter. Now in Australia we know where to keep our snow... on the mountains, not in the cities, so we had little idea of what we were in for. It was a good place to learn a lot about color separation and t-shirt printing and we stuck it out for a couple of years, but with another winter looming we bailed out and headed back to Oz.
On arrival back in Australia I continued to do Hot Rod t-shirt art, mostly for American clients. Contact with the USA has been maintained through annual trips back and also by another extended stay during summer 2002, basing ourselves back in Florida, and more recently in 2006 staying in Huntington Beach CA for 3 months.
The outlet for my work started to change a bit in early 1999 when I started to do the first of many drawings for the Muscle Machines diecast range. Readers may know these models with exaggerated bodies, big rear tires, monster motors and side exiting exhaust pipes. One of the great things about doing these drawings is that I've been able to spend more time doing my cartoon style. The other is that you get to work on some kinda wacky vehicles that I'd otherwise be unlikely to get a request to work on. Now a 69 Camaro is a nice looking car, but after you've drawn fifty of them it's nice to be able to do a supercharged Checker cab, Divco Milk Van or 1952 Mack B Model dump truck. Check out the "more cartoons" section of my website, www.rohanday.com for more examples of this stuff, as well as your better known hot rod models.
My own cars have been a little more sedate, but hey I drive them! That is with the exception of a 1966 Pro-Street Morris Mini I built back in 94. Rear tires from a top fueller didn't get the nod from the registration authorities. In such a small car it also meant that there was only 4 inches between them. My current daily driver is a 1958 General Motors Holden Station Wagon and I have a rule of not owning cars newer than myself. (see below)
Who knows where the journey goes next. When I first graduated I did a lot more car stylist type renderings. These days the cartoon workload is pretty high. Recently I've done some cutaway drawings of some interesting projects and there are a couple new places that I think that screenprinted car art can go.
So long as it involves some kind of playing around with art and old cars... she'll be right mate!
1953 Chevrolet Bel Air 2-door Sedan
English 1966 Morris Mini (was a 2-door sedan)