Joel Clark is a British-born artist with a penchant for motorsport, motorbikes and vinyl. The last part makes more sense when you see his art; hand cut vinyl melded together to create visually striking motorsport work.
Growing up near one of Britain’s most famous circuits, Joel spent his early years working for a sign company at Silverstone and admiring Lister-Jaguars and Maserati 250Fs. With the perfect blend of childhood heroes and artistic talent Joel has created a successful business. Trailing Throttle asks the ex-Melbournite a few questions about his art and what’s on the horizon.
What is vinyl art?
Vinyl art, as an idea, has long been maturing in the back of my mind ever since I first picked up a scalpel at my first job, upon leaving school, back in 1990. The job was with a sign company based at Silverstone Circuit, close to where I grew up. Vinyl art is based on the skills I learnt back then, of having to hand-cut vinyl graphics for race teams. For instance: Monday morning the phone would be off-the-hook from race teams needing 10 new Dunlop stickers, four new Ford logos and a couple of Mobil decals too! All these had to be hand cut as these were the days when a computer could only cut basic fonts.
Up until 18 months ago, I had been working in more traditional media. I really enjoy painting in oils and on the iPad, but my style was fairly generic and I knew it wouldn’t have any cut-through in a hugely saturated market (of Motorsport art). It was then in a Eureka moment that the idea of vinyl suddenly made sense. By using vinyl to create car art, the actual pieces would have the same finish as the real thing… something totally unique! Plus when the subject is a racing car, I’m depicting the car’s livery in exactly the material used to create it. Finally I had an edge!
Growing up close to Silverstone and having a petrolhead father meant I was fortunate enough to be a regular visitor, mainly to all the vintage race meets. The smell of Castrol R from ERAs, Lister-Jaguars and 250Fs created a very strong connection with motorsport for me. However it was long before that, in fact by the age of 7, that I knew I wanted to do something artistic.
What’s your favourite car(s) to use as inspiration? Much of your work is based on vintage cars; is this a personal preference?
As mentioned above, classic and vintage racing has always been a passion but MotoGP, F1, BTCC, Le Mans series and rallying hold equal interest. They just don’t make liveries like they used too, so I tend to avoid using them as subjects.
For road car art, there is no contest. With the various design and safety restrictions designers face now, we’ll never replicate the simple delicacy of pre-1990 cars (bar the odd exception). It’s nigh on impossible to pick a single favourite car but at the more radical end of the spectrum is where I tend to find my ideal cars. Citroen SM, Jaguar D-Type, Facel Vega for example.
You’ve lived internationally. While you were in Melbourne did you do any art on local cars here, such as Holden or Ford product?
While living in Melbourne (some ten years ago now) I wasn’t doing my art as I was in my old job as an advertising creative. But I loved the Aussie car scene while down there. What’s not to like about rumbling V8s and what seemed an abundance of old Alfas driving around.
Have you thought about doing an entire car, like the BMW Art Cars? If you could, what car would it be?
An entire car covered in a vinyl ‘reflection’ piece is the goal I’m aiming at. Once I get chance (and funds) to do so it’s the piece I feel will be my break into the fine art world. There is no choice of car in mind; in fact the more mundane the better!
You’re a commissioned artist – is the work for personally-owned cars or do they provide an image they want stylised?
My commissioned work is completely open to all ideas. Clients need only supply, or ask me to find, a photo of their favourite, or personal car. I then work from that alone, meaning I can take commissions from the world over.
My favourite piece is usually the latest piece. Though if I had to pick a car picture, then the M Sport BMW takes top honours, especially as it wasn’t far off full size! But what really gets me going is thinking about the ‘entire art car’ project. The use of vehicle parts has been a significant step in to that elusive fine art world and that’s what is taking preference over all other work at present. Still, a commission for some Aussie V8 muscle is still welcome.
What car do you drive, and is there a dream car you want?
I’m a biker at heart, so currently I’m on a very loud TL 1000S which has had the vinyl treatment! I’ve always had classic cars really, from a Fiat X1/9, Scimitar GTE, Citroen CX right through to an Audi A8 (I love a Luxo-barge). A dream car would be the aforementioned Citroen SM.
Where can we find your latest work?
I have three sites. For my latest vinyl sculpture work: www.joelclarkart.artweb.com. For all my car art (including oil and digital painting) go to www.joelclarkartist.carbonmade.com and www.speedicons.com
If you would like to purchase or commission Joel’s art, we recommend contacting him via email: [email protected]