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Meet Peter Aylett of Car Art in Orange County

Today we’d like to introduce you to Peter Aylett.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Peter. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I’m originally from London, England, where my great-grandfather was a carriage maker. I’ve always loved cars — my mother kept a drawing of one that I did at age three. As a boy, I played with toy cars and was intrigued by different shapes of cars on the road. As a teen, I sketched cars and wanted to become a car designer. My renderings got me short-listed for a transportation design scholarship at the Royal College of Art in London. And I always had pictures of the best-looking Italian exotics on my walls!

This young passion for the design and display of cool cars led to consecutive automotive careers.

My work in secretive design studios at Ford and Lotus in England, Mercedes in Germany, GM in Detroit and Los Angeles, Nissan in San Diego, and Mazda in Irvine, California, helped develop exciting concept cars like the Corvette Stingray III and production cars such as the Lotus Esprit Turbo, DeLorean and Mazda RX-8.

In 2002, I founded Car Art. My transitional idea was to offer artworks with a unique selling point: “Your car in art …by the car’s designer!” I began with designers I had worked with and eventually added members of the Automotive Fine Arts Society (several of whom are ex-car designers) as well as many other fine artists.

My website gets around 15,000 visitors a month worldwide. Customers in 25 countries have ordered: mainly North America and Europe of course, but also some from Central and South America, Middle East, Asia and Oceania. Orders are taken through our shopping cart online and drop-shipped by the artists.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
My challenge at the outset was to identify and strike agreements with the world’s greatest car artists. That mission was largely accomplished within the first five years. But specializing in a very narrow niche of art has proven difficult sales-wise, particularly after the recession hit in 2008. Older generations — who grew up loving and driving fabulous designs of the ’50s and ’60s — are getting maxed out on wall space. Younger generations — in an uninspiring automotive landscape — tend not to care as much about cars or even own one.

They are more into high tech and taking an Uber.

Not surprisingly with this genre, 80% of my customers are men, often to decorate their den, office or garage. Women typically buy as gifts for husbands or boyfriends, but may not be willing to have car art in their living rooms!

To broaden the appeal, I introduced some special interest galleries. For example, themes of romance or animals, settings like beaches and architecture, or cars with other forms of transportation like trains and planes. When clients commission custom paintings, then anything is possible, and often personalized with people, pets or places they love.

Please tell us about Car Art.
The simple, eponymous brand name says it all. Car Art specializes in art of one thing only: CARS! And mirroring the popular search term propelled the company to #1 on Google and Yahoo.

I brought together 75 renowned car designers, fine artists and photographers from around the world to one location: CarArt.us. It’s a one-stop shop for 1,500 artworks of 130 marques: original paintings, signed, limited edition prints, posters and sculptures. Secondarily, it’s also a vehicle year/make/model/designer information resource. Sports Car Market magazine wrote, “Whether your preference is European sports and racing cars, American muscle or pre-war classics, you’ll find what you’re looking for.”

Los Angeles is the Capital of Car Culture. My business may not have sprung up anywhere else! Many now-familiar car-centric things originated hereabouts, e.g. motels, hot rods, drive-thru’s, go karts and dune buggies. Car styling was first developed by Harley Earl in Hollywood, to create custom cars for movie stars. Half the world’s car designers and many car artists graduated from Art Center in Pasadena — including (ex-Ford) Ken Eberts, founder and president of the Automotive Fine Arts Society. All major car companies have satellite design studios here to tap into Californian trends and lifestyles. And a quarter of my artists live in this creative environment, as well as many who collect automotive art.

The company’s reputation has drawn almost 700 applicants from 47 countries. Car Art’s gold standard of ‘the world’s finest automotive art’ means that only a few — the very best — are accepted. Half in our stable are American, with the rest from 17 other countries, for a truly international line up.

The company, its artists and artwork have been featured on TV (Dream Car Garage, Rolling Art TV, Moscow TV), on radio (Car & Driver, Road & Track, America on the Road, The Car Show, Cars Yeah, Wisconsin Hot Rod), in museums (Petersen Automotive, San Diego Automotive, San Diego Collection, Kemp Auto, Murphy Auto, Muckenthaler), at events (Barrett-Jackson, Automotive Art Expo at Pebble Beach, Cars & Stars, Canadian International AutoShow, Concorso Italiano, Las Vegas Concours d’Elegance, La Jolla Concours d’Elegance), and magazines in the USA, Canada, England, Italy, The Netherlands, Portugal, Russia and Vietnam — several times on covers.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
My Dad took me to the Motor Show in London, where I was amazed to see a concept car for the very first time — the Chrysler Turboflite, designed by Virgil Exner. Impossible to imagine as a British schoolboy that I too would one day help design American concept cars featured at major auto shows. Or that I would sell original concept car renderings by this legendary designer!

Pricing:

  • Posters typically range from $25 to $100.
  • Signed, Limited Edition Prints typically range from $50 to $500.
  • Original Paintings typically range from $1,000 to $5,000.
  • Sculptures typically range from $2,000 to $8,000.

Contact Info:


Image Credit:
Peter Aylett

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

1 Comment

  1. PATTY AND RON RYDING

    November 15, 2017 at 00:07

    HOWDY NEIGHBOR….OR SHOULD I SAY EX-NEIGHBOR? THANKS FOR SENDING THIS, PETER…IT’S SO VERY IMPRESSIVELY WELL-DONE !! IT SEEMS THAT EVERYTHING YOU DO WITH CAR ART IS JUST “THE BEST”. I THINK BACK TO OUR SAINT CLARE SHORES LAKE HOMES IN DETROIT..JUST A BLOCK APART…AND THEN OUR HOMES IN THE BEACON HILL VISTAS THAT BROUGHT US “TOGETHER AGAIN FOR THE FIRST TIME”. GREAT MEMORIES INDEED. A TRUE PARALLEL IN OUR LIVES. HAVE YOU GIVEN ANY THOUGHT TO MOVING TO PALM DESERT ? JUST CARRY ON, OL’ CHAP. BEST REGARDS FROM PATTY AND RON

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