Awhile back I started running these Artist Feature pieces. I’ve been blessed to find and befriend some amazing artists over the last few years and this seemed the best way to introduce all of you out there to these amazing artists. A couple of years ago John Wells of Vintage Torque asked me to work with Keven Carter of Car-N-Art so that he could create the cover of Vintage Torque’s KKOA Leadsled Spectacular DVD. Since then I’ve been enjoying watching Keven’s work get bigger and bigger. Last year’s Kid Rock Rebel Soul tour featured a bunch of Keven’s art on shirts and as the backdrop for the stage. Very kool stuff! Without any further ado, here’s an Artist Feature on Keven Carter.
Do you remember an “ah-ha” moment that made you know that art was going to be an integral part of your life?
When I was about 11 or 12 years old I remember being over at a friends house and his father, who was sort of a dry fellow and not around very often, spoke up to us about his job as an engineer. His words to me at the time seemed prolific in my life, though probably advice many of us hear from time to time: “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” I know this helped me realize that I didn’t just want to finish school and grab a job without some sort of passion about it just to make a buck. Though I have a lot of interests in topics all over the board, I think what I currently do probably wrangles most of those things into one category.
As far as any singular moment, I’d say that probably tops my list. Certainly I was given a lot of encouragement from my family and teachers who helped fuel me in pursuing a career in things (art related) I enjoy when I was younger. I wasn’t always clear on the exact direction, nor will I probably ever be, but that is life; You try things and see how they pan out for you. The only question is how hard you try and how long you do them before before desire loses it’s luster and you give up.
If you could pick 1 piece of your work that would represent the entire body of your work, which one would you choose?
Man, that’s a pretty hard question for me! From time to time I have people approach me and bring up a specific piece I worked on that has brought them joy or encouragement or sparked something inside them or at least stayed with them. Those will always be my favorite pieces because they made an impact on someone other than me or a client and I think that’s why I like doing art, because it can have a lasting effect on people. I like to look back at things I’ve done in the past and see where I was or the way I was doing work and see how I’ve grown. Some of those pieces stop me in my tracks and I’ll look at them with admiration and have a little sense of pride building up inside. I think I may keep those impressions to myself though as not to effect others judgments.
Who or what most inspires your work?
History plays a big part of my inspiration. I’m pretty passionate about a lot of automotive history being a native of Detroit. It’s fun to look back at how products have grown over the years and see the changes and cues along the way. I feel the early years perhaps are the most inspiring with exterior design being the most influential: Back in the years where speed and aerodynamics were suggested in shape as opposed to be factual. This idea plays in a realm of fantasy that spawned many cool looking designs and some of the best products in appearance.
Is there an artistic style or process that you haven’t tried yet that you want to try?
Two things that come to mind: 1) I’d like to take a stab at metal casting some physical pieces because I’ve never tried it. 2) I’d like to be able to play with some more modern toys out there like CNC machines, 3D printers, lasers, water jetting, etc. I think I could lend some of my current skill sets to modern toys to try to make some new fun things.
If time wasn’t a factor I’d probably do more painting. I used to enjoy it a lot but I just don’t feel I have the time anymore. I came across a blog the other week that had a bunch of cubist style modern day works that was pretty interesting to look at and I thought to myself I’d like to attempt to try it for fun. But for the most part I’ve been exposed to many forms of art over the college years which I’m glad I have the opportunity to explore some new ideas.
What’s 1 piece of advice you’d give an artist that’s just starting out today?
I don’t think I could give just one piece of advice and have it give any gravity to someone starting off today, so I’ll give a few from my personal experience as a commercial artist:
Work Hard. I know this sounds like some blanket advice that anyone will tell you, but it certainly is true. Work ethics are so important as it’s seems to be slipping away all around us. Hard work and persistence can pay off if you give it your all and the right amount of time.
With each piece you do, you’ll grow. As I mentioned earlier I like to look back at things I’ve done. Sometimes I’m filled with pride, other times I cringe a bit; this is part of the growth process that will make you stronger everyday forward.
Be Humble. With the voice of social media today anyone can be anything they want to portray. I certainly don’t want to cut on social media because as an artist of a new era is concerned, it can be your new best friend to take advantage of global billboard. I myself are from a slightly different time and perspective, so I’m not huge in the social media world (to a fault) For years I worked under a company name rather than my own. This had a few draw backs for me in growth. I still have people thinking that I’m some design firm, an artist collective, etc. I’ll poke around the internet from time to time and see how others will boast, brag, talk shit, but overall this won’t help you as much as being humble and thanking people for compliments and thanks along the way. Clients like to work with humble folks, not drama queens.
Keep working. If you approach a single goal, then it’s time to set some new ones. I feel a good artist is never satisfied and this is what drives you to do more. Don’t count on one single piece to be your statement in life. Everyone will engage with your work differently, so be prolific and keep making those engagements!
Set Deadlines. This is important as a lot of artists don’t know when something is ‘done’. Sometimes pieces get overworked or someone just runs out of time. Know your limits and limitations as well. Deadlines in the commercial world are of the upmost importance. I feel some of the best feedback I get from clients who work with me is I can stay on track and deliver when something is needed.
G+ : +KevenCarter