With an international reputation as an artist and designer of automobiles, Art Fitzpatrick (“Fitz”) has lived the artist’s dream--working at home while associating with some of the biggest names in the worlds of business, arts and entertainment.
“People still approach me to sign advertisements they’ve collected,” said Fitz. “My work is credited with helping make the ‘60s the Decade of the Pontiac. The resounding success of those ads contributed to my being honored by contracts as a stamp artist almost 50 years later for the United States Postal Service.”
The artist recently did two stamp series, the “50s Sporty Cars” series released at the August 2005 Woodward Dream Cruise won a Silver Creativity Award, and the 1953 Corvette in the series was hung in the Smithsonian American Art Museum. A few years later his second series, “Fins & Chrome,” received the Gold Creativity Award.
Fitz’s career in automobile advertising is unmatched, responsible for over 1,400 national magazine ads and countless brochure illustrations while winning over 50 art and design awards. His ads for 14 different brands in 28 years (53 years worth of ads!) include 12 years for Lincoln/Mercury, 21 years for General Motors, Buick, Opel and Pontiac’s unprecedented 13 award-winning Wide-Track years that still resonate today.
In 2012, Fitz received a Lifetime Achievement Award for Contribution to Art of the Automobile from Art Center College of Design, and the Automotive Fine Art Society (AFAS) created a perpetual award in the name of their active Honorary Member, the Art Fitzpatrick Award “for Automotive Art That Stirs the Soul”, to be awarded for the first time at Pebble Beach this year. As an Honorary Member of the AFAS, Fitz has exhibited for the past 15 years at the annual Exhibition at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance as well as other Concours and auto museums. He is also an Honorary Life member of the Classic Car Club of America, and the GTO Association of America, and has been an elected member of the Society of Industrial Designers, the Society of Automotive Engineers, the Institute of Aeronautical Sciences and the Westport Artist Society.
Still in demand today, Fitz recently received screen credit for work on Disney-Pixar’s Oscar nominated film “Cars.” John Lasseter, Chief Creative Officer at Pixar-Disney Animation Studios, first met up with Fitz at the Pebble Beach Concours. Already in the planning stages of the film, Lasseter asked him to demonstrate to the film’s artists the essential elements of car rendering.
“I spent much of my presentation explaining how factors like lighting, reflections, and the use of metallic and non-metallic paints influence the way a car looks,” said Fitz. “The ability to produce quality automobile art requires more than artistic talent— an analytical eye is essential and it requires both an understanding of, and a feeling for, cars.”
Fitz grew up in a family of artists—his father painted backgrounds for Disney and his grandfather was a famous architect. At age 11, he started taking weekend art classes at the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts (now the College for Creative Studies). By age 20, he had experience working for John Tjaarda (Briggs Body) and with “Dutch” Darrin in Hollywood, designing and custom-building cars for such clients as Clark Gable, Errol Flynn and Al Jolson among others. He gained recognition in the industry as designer of the Darrin Packard 4-door convertible and hard top sedans. At 22, Fitz worked for Werner Gubitz at Packard and as a consulting designer to General Electric before serving in World War II as an officer in the Naval Aviation Training Command and the Naval Office of Research and Invention.
“Ending up in New York at the end of the war, I had been awarded the Mercury and Nash ad account even before my release from active duty,” explained Fitz. “The benefits of switching career paths were obvious—I could earn more money and work at home for myself in the Connecticut countryside. Plus, I really enjoyed doing it.”