Meet Jelle Claeys. He’s 26 years old, he’s Belgian, he’s been studying art and architecture for more than a decade, and he’s the artists behind the distinctive pieces you see below. Although only a selection of his works to date – including a Mercedes ‘Gullwing’ 300SL, Porsche 965, a classic Corvette Stingray, and the McLaren F1 – Jelle’s works pay tribute to the motoring world’s golden oldies. And having recently (ish) spent time with a ‘92 Honda NSX, a ’59 W180 Mercedes and a ’70 Plymouth GTX, our curiosity was peaked. So we got in touch with the man himself to discover a little more about his work[Not a valid template]
So Jelle, when did you start drawing cars professionally?
“I always drew cars in my free time, and was particularly keen on photographing them after a friend took me to the classic 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps. Then four years ago I drew my best friend’s car, uploaded it on Facebook and suddenly I had more than 10 orders in my inbox. Everything went pretty fast, and some people suggested I should make more of those and build up a Facebook page and website with my artworks.”
Any key artistic inspirations?
“The web is overloaded with inspiration and artists to look up to. In terms of style for automotive there’s one artist I really look up to and that’s Leonardo Castilho.”
It’s a very distinctive style, and certainly caught our attention. What brought you to this?
“In the beginning my style was a bit careless. I drew with much precision but the colouring was more freestyle. I used markers with a broad tip and made dots to create shadows and highlights. After a while I saw several artworks from other people with suspicious similarities. Now my colouring is very clean and smooth but once in a while some clients ask me to use the careless style again in their orders.”
Could you walk us through how you approach a new project?
“Well, after I’ve chosen the right picture of the car I create a digital reference mesh over it on my screen. Then I use the same mesh on paper to create the shapes of the car. Together with my drawing pencils, straight and curved rulers are my best friends. After the whole car is drawn, the colouring starts. Dozens of layers create a deep realistic colour. A red car for example has maybe 20 different shades of red. If you’re not trying to replicate that, the car will look flat and have no depth. I sometimes stare at an artwork for minutes when it’s finished, in the hope that I’ll see things I didn’t even draw consciously. I hope my clients do the same, because there’s so much detail in them you cannot see looking at it from the couch. You need to look closer to really enjoy them.”
What aspect of each car do you like to focus on?
“My favourites are the older era racecars, but my all time favourite is the classic 911. When I’m drawing for myself it’s always a 911, or a classic Vespa.”
You heard the man people. He’s looking for inspiration and a classic 911 to showcase it. Place your orders now…
*Shots courtesy of Jelle Claeys