Rod Authority recently met with veteran automotive artist, Steve Stanford, to learn more about his debut exhibit at the Petersen Automotive Museum. This momentous occasion is set for August 23rd and is truly special because it will mark the first time that Stanford will showcase and sell prints of his iconic work.

We got a chance to discuss more than just the event itself. Steve shared his insights on automotive culture and we learned a lot about the creative passion that fuels his craft. We were also lucky enough to check out some of his originals over lunch at Uncle Pete’s Cafe in Westminster, California.

“I tend to want to do simple, clean, timeless stuff. If you notice there’s no wazoo paint jobs on any of these renderings…I think they have legs that way,” said Steve as he enthusiastically filled the table with his catalog of artwork.

We mused over a concept Charger done in 2006 portraying a return to the iconic muscle car’s design roots. In this particular instance Steve played the part of automotive Nostradamus by foretelling a style that we’re now seeing, but almost a decade after.

He explained, “With this particular Charger illustration we were trying to make it look more like Dodge’s heritage from 1960 to 1969. The graphic design replicates the side sculpture, we sped it up a little bit by pitching it forward, the hood scoop and even the taillights were a return to its heritage.”

He continued, “The way I saw the reintroduced Charger–it was just a sedan with the Charger name. I wanted to make it look like an actual Charger, you know.”

We also got to check out a gorgeous ’58 Chevy that appeared on the cover of Rod & Custom as well as Jay Leno’s Garage.

One thing that Steve wanted people to know during our meeting was that he’s not just a hot rod designer, but more specifically, a car designer. While we have a special place in our artistic appreciation for his hot rod and custom renderings, Steve has a complete and total love for the automobile.That is apparent in the care that shows through his diverse renderings.

“There’s a lot of illustrators that do specialize in one type of vehicle. It’s almost in your advantage to diversify. If one market starts to drop off you can always go to something else and you can stay busy. Plus, it keeps me gainfully employed,” Steve joked.

Steve is also self taught. At an early age he learned to emulate what the pros where doing. He felt that it was important to do so during a time when the line drawn between amateurs and pros was imbued much deeper in the sand. In the end he neither felt disenfranchised or lacking in his abilities to develop his skill, “When you’re self taught, you’re not taught what not to do. You just forge ahead and do it anyway.”

Needless to say, a lot of artists within our industry look to Steve’s work as inspiration. He is both humble yet fierce in the execution of his craft. It is only very recently that Steve has decided to immerse his services and work within the social media platform. He has a great team of people backing his campaign and you can bet that we’ll be along for the ride.

Be sure to check back for an event alert with information and specifics on his Petersen debut as it nears. For anyone within the industry and outside of it, Steve left us with an indelible message, “You’d better be nice to people on the way up, because you’re going to see them again on the way down.”

We don’t need to wish Steve any luck with his future pursuits–he has all the qualities required and a golden attitude for success imbued within him and that’s all the luck that he needs.