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The dual passions for cartoon art and classic cars have come together to inspire a humorous series of automotive artworks by Andrew Ritter.
Be it a flying BMW 3.0 CSL ‘Batmobile’ at the Nürburgring or a rally Mini Cooper ‘S’ charging around Monte Carlo, Ritter’s designs always make you smile, and his recent prints have been a sell-out after gaining an enthusiastic following on Instagram.
Ritter has enjoyed drawing from an early age.
“With a set of crayons, I’d be happy sketching a car or a rocketship,” he explains.
“When the Sunday papers arrived, there would always be a race to find the latest Calvin and Hobbes cartoon: Bill Watterson was an early hero of mine.
“The work of Pixar has also been an inspiration. The first Toy Story was a coming-of-age event and I enjoyed Luca, the latest film.”
Art and automobiles have long been parallel interests.
At Kenyon College, Ohio, Ritter studied fine art sculpture, but he graduated in 2007 during a tough recession: “I never really had any plans as a student, but to make some money I started my own firm designing car T-shirts that I’d sell at events up and down the East Coast.
“Then with my buddy Mike Burroughs we started the online magazine StanceWorks, which was a great outlet for my photography and writing.
“From Porsches to hot rods, it was very much open borders with the cars we covered.”
After moving to California in 2010, Ritter left the magazine to focus on his art, and started developing his digital talents through his caricatures.
From the initial sketch idea, he builds the cars in Blender, a graphic software package in which he forms the 3D shape before cutting away the detail.
Once happy with the subject, Ritter begins building up the background and textures using Photoshop: “Creating the roads and buildings is my favourite part.
“As a kid I’d always loved diorama displays I saw during school trips to natural-history museums. The backgrounds really create the atmosphere. It’s a bit like making your own little world.”
For inspiration, Ritter enjoys the California car scene and an annual trip to the Monterey historic races is a highlight.
“I love the variety of cars that attend the events during the week,” he explains. “I lost my dad last year and he really nurtured my passion for classic cars.
“I have happy memories of working on his cars, but sadly a few years ago a bad storm totalled his BMW collection when a huge tree fell on them.”
Minis have long been a personal passion for the artist: “When I was five, I went with Dad to the Mid Ohio races and he gave me $5 to buy a toy car.
“I chose a Matchbox Mini and thought, ‘One day I’m going to own one of these.’ There was something about this cute little thing that really appealed to my cartoon humour.”
Alongside his 1987 Mitsubishi Montero daily driver, two Minis occupy Ritter’s garage: a ’74 car and a ’69 Mk2 project. “It popped up on Facebook as a shell parked in the desert,” he recalls. “Within an hour I’d sorted a trailer and now I’m close to getting it finished. There’s a 1275cc engine ready to drop in.”
As well as expanding his series of art prints, Ritter now has plans to develop a series of 3D caricature car models: “They’ll be cast in resin and the first will be a Porsche.”