Saturday, December 29, 2012

Peeking out from under a rock 2012

Another year has gone by and it's time to peek out from under the rock and touch base with the outside world. 2012 has been a busy year for me on a personal level with a lot of work that I've got under my belt. I currently don't have the energy to bust out my favorites over the last year as I think it may take me too long to really review everything that I've done; nor is it fair to highlight some work I've done for others as opposed to work that I'm not highlighting being interpreted as bad or less than favorable on a personal level. 

Sadly, I haven't had a whole lot of time for myself in personal art or otherwise projects. The big project that I've set aside for myself hasn't been finished yet. That is my studio space that I slaved on for far too long. The studio space has been something that is both needed around here for my room in the house with a 3 year old as well as a space to call my own. I posted a lot of photos and updates over the summer months of the progress that was made (mostly on Instagram

I'm not even super enthralled with Istagram as  whole with the issues of the photos possibly being used in the conjunction with ads for companies beyond my will. I know they recently stepped back from this, but I still don't like at any given moment the double edged sword that is social media can be swung back at us.  i did also recently sign up for a more seemingly friendly version of this whole stupid craze on Pheed. I don't know how much I'll be doing on any of this because I'm really not into the virtual experience over the real visceral version. I've really even sort of abandoned the Facebook page after a couple of uncool things happened there with the Pay to Play ads for those with a fan page and also the same kinda sharing of images without implied or expressed permission given. For those who don't know, unless I want to pay facebook for them to show my updates, they can be buried in a popularity contest among those who are "trending"… Christ on a stick! Here I was thinking that middle/High School Bullshit ended 20+ years ago… It's just in a new form with social medias.  

I really don't care if I'm "trending" or not. I don't care if I get a billion hits in a day. It is nice to get likes and feedback, but if I don't, my day isn't ruined. My time since my son came along is pretty important to me to work on things for others as well as myself. I will pipe up when I can or want to, but I just don't feel like I have time to entertain so many social medias when I'd rather spend it making new images. 

Okay, I think I said my peace on the social media side. I'm not ignoring it really, just not playing along as much as I used to. So here I am writing a blog… Am I the last one still writing blogs? Probably! I just can't get out everything I want to say in 420 characters or less.  

In theory there is supposed to be a couple of articles coming out with myself included in the form of print, but I haven't seen anything as of yet. I suspect that 2013 will pop a little more in that department. Sometimes those who write the articles for magazines want you to advertise with them and in exchange for your ad dollars, they will write about you. I don't have the time to play games like this either nor do I have the funds to advertise. Honestly, I get enough calls, texts, emails, etc about work that I fear what would happen if I did put out an ad in a major magazine?!  I would probably have to let a lot of people down as I have been recently… which leads me to why there is a Harley-Davidson #1 up there at the top of the page.
As some of you know, at the end of October I got a call from some folks at Harley-Davidson corporate to come over and chat with them about some work. The chats went well and I've been rather busy working on some designs for them (and others) from the beginning of November up until recently when the shutdown for holiday break happened. During this time I got a lot of smoke signals from people requesting work and such and I simply just haven't had a moment to clear my head or catch my breath on designs, so I've been sorta backlogging multiple jobs until 2013. This could skunk me but I'm really just one guy here working away and I need time to get back to those who've written me. I've had in about 4+ weeks of work with  H-D which has been a fun experience with a lot of room for experimentation and exploration! Unfortunately, I can't show you anything at the moment because I don't own the images like I do for others that I'm working on. I can and will "share" on social medias when work of mine becomes public (hopefully something as soon as January '13) but I'm really under some strict non-disclosure agreements that I'm not going to break because I like working for H-D!

As for what 2013 has in store for me? I have no idea at this point, but I'm pretty excited to look into the future, rather than revisit the past.  2012 has been so overwhelming that I hope to breath  a little in 2013. So, hang tight with me here, or on your favorite social media and I'll do my best to update when I can. 

Cheers from this Birthday Boy (yes, 29 years old again!)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Iron Invasion podcast interview with Car-N-Art

I'll keep it short because I can be long winded at times… I had a chance to sit down and do a rare interview with Tiny, from Tiny's Kustoms, Driven Kustom Culture and Friction in the Static radio show about the Iron Invasion. I spent some time reminiscing about the Hunnert Car Pile-up and explain what you can expect above and beyond that experience with the Iron Invasion. I loved being able to chat with an audience that already understands what to expect from most shows so I didn't have to explain all the normal parts to expect at these types of shows. It's all in my own words, no scripts, not over produced just all the good nitty-gritty on the show.

The interview begins about 23 minutes into the show, but you should definitely listen to the whole show and the segment on E-15

If you are on the fence of going, I hope you'll listen and hear the whole idea behind Iron Invasion and why this show will be a fun and unique experience vs what you may already know about Car/Kustom/Hot Rod/ Culture events.

It's episode #136

Thanks again, Tiny for the opportunity!


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

RIP Hunnert Car Pile-Up, Introducing The Iron Invasion!

I remember at a young age attending a funeral, my mother telling me that even when someone passes, new life springs forth to replace it. As in life, so shall it be with kick ass, pre-sixty-four events:

I’d first heard about the Hunnert Car Pile-Up around 2003, a few years after it had began and thought I’d like to attend an event like this. The way it was articulated to me was a no frills, no trophies, good old fashion get together car show with like-minded folks who enjoy the cars and not the california duster - mirrors under the cars kinda show. There are plenty of shows out there with folks boasting about having factory air in their tires with every nut and bolt clocked into picture perfect position (say that three times fast!)

After attending the first time in Morris in ’05, I fell in love with the show. Cars parked in animal barns. Everyone needed to come through the fresh mud in the deep tracks off the byway. It wasn’t pertinacious, it was real.

As years went on, occasionally I’d attend as a vendor and other times as a spectator and even come to drive my ’49 Ford the 650 mile round trip to Morris the last year it was there from Detroit. 

I think a little something was lost the last couple of years after it moved out of Morris, IL. As you all know, the show wasn’t born there, like a potted plant a show can only grow so big before there is no more room to grow. I think the Chrome Czars also knew that moving it from Morris was going to loose a little something. Morris was a cool, little town that seemingly let the hot rodders get away with flame shows in the streets and a good deal of freedom that came along with this home-grown show. 

After a 10 year run, the time came for a bow out for the show. I totally get why. Having worked on several shows in the past and present, there comes a time to end on a good note rather burn out and fizzle and still make room for someone else to reinvent the show with a fresh take and added events and features. 

Lets face it, this show was special to many of us. It was unique in the laid back aspects of it and won’t soon be forgotten by anyone who’s ever attended.  So knowing October is around the corner, I know many folks out there get the itch to start migrating toward Illinois for a show. Instead of showing up to Grundy County Fairgrounds with a funeral cut flowers to lay in the favorite parking spot in the shade, it’s time to get your ride ready for the natural successor to the Pile-up: The Iron Invasion!

John Wells, the creator of Vintage Torque Fest was past the torch (or rather given the blessing by the Chrome Czars) to the area and the date to bring new life to the eleven year old concept. If you haven’t attended Torque Fest in Iowa the last few years, you are really missing out. John’s approach to putting on a show is simple: Make it big, special and most importantly, make it MOVE!


John Wells approached me early on to get my impressions on the concept. Over the course of the last year we’ve shot calls, emails, texts and smoke signals back and forth about what we like in shows, and what’s gotta go by the wayside. John vends events around the globe so he’s really got the concepts together for what means success.

As I sit here I can not recall the original name that John Wells surmised for the event but it contained “Torque” ,“Vintage”, “Fest”  in some combination. I remember being on the phone with him as he was attempting to put it together and at the time I couldn’t nail it down in my head.  No sooner did I hang up the phone then I got some instant clarity on the title. I sent John a text with 5 different titles and he fell in love with “the Iron Invasion”. Quickly after giving the show the name, I was quested to come up with a definitive logo type for the show. I had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted to do. By combining the idea of a map compass to show people coming across the mid-west (and beyond) and an iron cross, the brand was established.

Where many folks out there where used to the drill of packing a cooler full of their favorite adult beverages and a lawn chair to plop their asses in, waiting for the select panel of judges to come by and possibly get an award, The Vintage Torque shows make this more than the casual viewer car show events with Dirt track laps, plenty of bands to fill the day, grass roots awards made and presented by attending car clubs to THEIR favorite pick, art show for the collectors, tons a great vendors from both coasts and lastly, all at a very VERY affordable price to attend.  

Because of these facts, The Iron Invasion is an event you will definitely want to be part of the first one, if for nothing else - bragging rights down the road. 

Here’s the breakdown of the show schedule:

  • Later that night - Bands at the Fairgrounds
  • 7 pm - Pearls Mahone
  • 8 pm - Adam Lee and the Dead Horse Sound Company
  • 9 pm - L'Assassins
  • Gates Open to Public at 8:00 am (Pre registered vehicles can get in 30 minutes early)
  • Retro Reel Cinema Building Starts at 9:00 am - this building will showcase vintage drag racing, b movie clips, and vintage stock car racing clips.
  • Childrens Vintage Fashion Parade 10:15am
  • Pin Up Contest 10:30 am
  • Drivers Meeting - 11:15 am
  • Do It Yourself Stunt Show  - 11:30 am (runs throughout the day)
  • Hot Rod Hucksters 11:30 am
  • Adam Lee & The Dead Horse Sound Company - 1:00 pm
  • Voodoo Kings Flame Show - 1:45 pm
  • Wayne "The Train" Hancock- 3:30 pm  
  • Merlin Award/Car Club Picks - 5:30 pm
  • Buildings Close at 6 pm
  • Voodoo Kings Flame Show Reprise - 6:15 pm
  • Afterdarks close out the show! 

Take a look at the promo video to get all the flavor

If you still feel you need to pack that lawn chair, I guess do it. But I’m tell you knowing what to expect from John and Vintage Torque Fest, you’ll only need the edge of that seat!

For further info, head on over to

Oct 5-6 McHenry County Fairgrounds 1050 Country Club Rd, Woodstock, IL 60098 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Coupon :: CarbElectricCo.

It's that point in the summer when you got the A/C cranked and $$'s going out the door in electric bills. I understand that it would be time to give back with a coupon for savings on some low wattage, cool industrial lighting. 
So SAVE some bucks with this code, Enter: "LUCKY13SAVE" to save 13% off of any purchase until the end of the month!
Take a look at these one of a kind Carburetor lamps and some vintage Machinist lamps as well.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th of July, USA

Remembering that it's the 4th of July. We are the land of the free; home of the brave.

Free means to be independent, and enjoy personal/political liberties.

Brave means to defy; challenge; dare; possessing or exhibiting courage or courageous endurance.

But always remember we here in the USA are United: made into or caused to act as a single entity, in harmony.

Our preset as Americans is to be individual and defy, yet act as a singularity in harmony. 

Use this as you see fit. Be respectful to one another. Happy 4th of July, USA.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Clockwork Collaborative

A fun project I've been working on with my fellow college alumni, Eric Freitas.  If you don't know the Clockwork of Eric Freitas, you should check it out. Super impressive, laborious and beautiful aesthetic which often gets categorized under steampunk. So, at the end of this month Eric has a few time pieces headed to NYC in SoHo for a show called Steampunkinetics, running from June 23rd to Sept 2nd.
This clock, named Mech. No.7, is a massive piece withover 1000 man hours into making every part. The thing I admire most about Eric's work is that where many people who fall into the steampunk aesthics make many trips around garage sales and Home Depot to find their pieces of construction of art, Eric makes it all himself. At one point during the construction of this clock I was hanging around his shop bs'ing with him and started playing on his baby lathe making screws for this piece to help out, and because of pride, he didn't use them because he wanted to say he did it all himself.
When the concept of the show came up some good 6 months back Eric was very concerned about hanging this near 100 lbs clock on the wall of this gallery. A lot can go wrong if it should happen to fall or not line up on the studs of the gallery. With too much to risk, I offered to build a massive structure for the massive clock.
Where Eric works in brass, my gig is steel. To not compete with the look of the clock, we kicked around many ideas of a simple, overbuilt frame work with vintage casters to help move it around. I kinda wanted to take this much further than he did, but also didn't want competing visuals in the end between the clock and display. The concept visually was that the clock was extracted from some old victorian home by chipping out the wall, then suspended between to I-beams. Overall, this beast is more than 8 feet tall and over 4 feet wide. 
So, the shop picture isn't the best since it's just a quickie iphone nab, but I know this thing is going to be one of the stars of the show in NYC.
For more info on the show, visit:

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Car-N-Art Posters just released online

Not everyone gets to hit all the great events, I understand. This doesn't mean you shouldn't have the opportunity to pick up the great event posters!

Vintage Torque Fest 2012: Only a few remain, grab them up here

Sins of Steel Motor City Mayhem: Sofa Sized prints.  few remain, grab them up here:

Friday, May 11, 2012

Why Vintage Torque Fest has to move in 2013

I don’t often sit down to write words like this, but some recent backlash to the moving of Vintage Torque Fest to Dubuque Iowa has my stomach turning. I feel like mostly this note is going to the folks who are local and vocal, but perhaps it’s a few who live further out too who have an issue going another 30 minutes down the road from Maquoketa. 
In order to really get a feel for this I need to go back a few years to the beginning of John and my relationship. About 5 years ago I get a call out of the blue from this guy who wants to put my art on the cover of this start up magazine that didn't even have a title, which became known as Vintage Torque. From the magazine grew a line of videos that I’ve done some work on along with other fellow artists like Doug Dorr, Max Grundy, Doug Horne and Deathray Designs
Somewhere down the line I get some more calls from John about attempting to put on a show in Iowa called Vintage Torque Fest. My first reaction was that I thought that it would be a hard sell to get people to come to a show in middle america, I suggested getting it closer to Chicago land area. On top of that I thought he’d need a pretty good gimmick to get people to come out to the middle of a corn field to set up. But John had a handful of ideas that he’d gathered after spending years traveling around from show to show vending and his “field of dreams” idea would happen. Like a man possessed, he began to max out credit cards to put on the first Torque Fest, gambling that people will come to Farley Iowa to race in the rain around a dirt track. 
The first year was a success with a lot of great bands, vendors and people who came out to support the show. The proceeds of all the shows to date go to Helping Hannahs Heart. I think most people don’t discover that point on the posters clear enough because it’s often integrated into the art itself. The important thing to know in this is that the first show didn’t have any proceeds, neither did the second!
So John and Kim who work their asses off year round to put on what many consider the mid-west’s greatest traditional show is because they hope to help pay themselves back and pray to help out on their daughter Hannah’s medical bills. Why? To make the show grow, have people come out and enjoy and give to a great cause.
2012 Torque Fest comes along and wraps up nicely. This is the first year the show began to show a profit for Hannah’s medical bills. Let’s keep in mind, because I know the Wells family that they are humble, mid-west folks and don’t want to get into a sob story, as I am cut from the same hunk of wood. But you should know that Hannah’s surgeries have been close to $1,000,000.00 to date (that’s right, a MILLION fucking Bucks!). They don’t parade Hannah around to make you cry and don’t blast you with the details of what it takes to be a parent who gives everything for their children; like I said, they are humble. Thankfully, John and Kim, despite being independently employed have some insurance. Being someone else who is independently employed, insurance costs and co-pays are high. I spent several years, along with my wife with no insurance, in fact, my son was born without it. We know someone out there is smiling on us to have a healthy child and I can only imagine what Kim and John have gone through.
Back to Torque Fest 2012: The show was again a success. But with it being a success for the first time and the state of growth with the Jackson County Fairgrounds hemorrhaging at the seams with vehicles, it was time to make the change to something that will accommodate the space needed to put on this quality of a show and actually begin to make a dent in medical bills.
To boot, as much as I liked the little town of Maquoketa as it reminded me a lot of Morris, IL from the Hunnert Car pile-up days, the Fair Board couldn’t give even a penny on any concessions sold at the show to the cause. John spends somewhere in the neighborhood of $30-40,000 in just advertising to bring people to the show, who spend money on food and drinks with the Fair who can’t kick back $1 in thanks? I overheard some folks talking in the kitchen area that they purchased every hunk of meat within a 20 mile radius of the town to keep the food going, I venture to say that they are the ones who are making any money in this situation, and not going to Hannah’s medical bills. 
(Update: the tips given to the employees of the fair board for concessions were donated to Helping Hannahs Heart)
So needless to say, to put on the 2013 show, things had to change. The Wells family needed some breaks in concessions, space for the growth of the show, hotels to house the folks from out of town, restaurants that had some variety and hours that can accommodate then needs for the Torque Fest(ers). 
Having helped out with a multiple independent shows, I know these things don’t happen for free. It takes a lot of scratch and pulling in friends and neighbors to break even most of the time. It’s a love for the show; to see the smiling faces, to hear the cheers of the crowds from hot rods ripping around a track or a band that just laid it all out on a kick-ass performance. When the show is done many like to jump on their favorite social media to share photos and comments on their experience. When the announcement was made about the moving of the show, I was upset by the number of people out there who flamed up on moving of the show.
Really? no seriously, REALLY? 40 miles up the road becomes a no-go for you people? A move that lets the show grow to what it NEEDS to be to keep it going, bring you the great bands, the awesome events to see, and the chaos of Torque Fest. Let me break down just a few numbers for this show for you:
Using the $10 entry fee, here’s what it takes:
400 show paying customers to come through to pay for the event insurance.
another 100 of you just to get port-a-potties so you can take a shit
another 600 of you to get the bands to show up and another 200 of you so you can hear the bands play through the P.A.’s
This is only a small insight on the show, as I mentioned the advertising costs associated already, you get the picture. It takes Kim and John every ounce of space on their credit cards maxed out to put this show on all in the name of the hopes of gaining something to put a dent in the medical bills for their daughter, Hannah.
I don’t often toot my own horn on this, but I really come out to Torque Fest to break even  on what I donate to the show. A lot of time and effort for the illustration, art and graphics I do for the show is a gift to the show because I believe in putting on a good show and John and Kim are personal friends of mine. I drive just shy of 1000 miles round trip from Detroit. I don’t even like to think about it because I’m a pretty logical person, but I do it anyway for the last three years because I believe in the show, the cause and bringing the best to the mid-west indie shows. The traditional Hot Rod scene is something I believe in and I put my heart, mind and sole behind it. I don’t get a volunteer t-shirt at the end of the day, nor do I get a discount on the merch, even if I created it, I buy it back for the same cost. 
When I read what people write on Facebook about the show, it burns my ass. After you read this and still think that it is a bad move to relocate the show still and you could even say the words you wrote to the face a little girl who has endured multiple heart surgeries or her parents who give EVERYTHING they have to put on this show, then leave your comments up. But, if this gives you a hint of everything the core group of people who put on this show, year after year go through, then I implore you to remove your negative comments about the show, and please come and be welcome in 2013 at Torque Fest.
Keven Carter @ Car-N-Art

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Never mind the butcher and baker: Beware of the Candlestick Maker!

The Packard plant seems to be the Hot Topic of abandoned Detroit right now. I spent some time years ago shooting for a couple of different magazines the destruction of the Packard plant. I've crawled many of the floors, halls, staircases, rooftops and ladders within to get shots.

Recently it came to my attention that other Photographers have decided to get "crafty" on Etsy with their findings within the Packard Plant, when they should have just stuck to taking pictures…

Above is a screen shot of one of the listings for block flooring being used for a rustic, cutesy, kitschy candlestick holder. What isn't contained in the description of the block holders is what toxics reside within.

Skinny jean kids out there think they may know it all, but obviously don't do their chemical research before drilling into these and exposing themselves and their buyers to 'death on a stick'

I took the time to write anyone I could find who's making/selling these this proper note. And if they do not heed my warning, I'll be talking with Etsy about their practices!

"To Whom it may concern: Yourself, as well as your consumers!

I writing under the assumption that you are unaware of the contents of the blocks you are removing from the Packard Plant. This is very unsettling for me to see listed for sale (especially as candlestick holders!) and I’m taking the time to write in hopes that you will heed my warning and removing the listings for your candle stick holders.

The wood block flooring within the Packard Plant, as well as many other buildings of this nature around Detroit had a very specific purpose within the plant. Besides being a cheap flooring with properties for sound deadening and foot comfort over standing on hard concrete, it was also employed for it’s chemical soaking abilities.

The reason why the blocks still exist in decent shape to this day is because the wood that was used was treated with multiple chemicals to keep the wood from rotting or from being consumed by ants/termites. Because of the age of this building I will assume the worst types of chemicals where being used to protect the wood which is lead and arsenic. When it was discovered that these where harmful to many people exposed to these chemicals, many manufactures switched to Creosote, which has also been deemed to be harmful to humans.

On top of the chemicals that where used to make sure the blocks didn’t rot, the areas where these where used in the plant where more-less chemical spill areas on the lines. The blocks where used to sop up dangerous chemicals being used on the lines including oil, gasoline, lead body filler, solvents, etc.

The EPA has deemed these chemicals to fall into one of two categories: (VOCs and SVOCs) Volatile and Semi-volatile Organic Compounds. These floorings within the plant where regularly shucked and where discarded back during production when they had been used up. Obviously, since the doors where closed and production stopped, no one has come to discard these as they need to be properly handled.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reclassified certain wood-preserving chemicals--creosote, pentachloropophenol and inorganic arsenicals--as restricted use pesticide materials. The designation means they are toxic or poisonous and potentially hazardous to humans and animals. Consequently, the public should be aware of the precautions for using wood treated with these chemicals.

Frequent or prolonged skin contact with pentachloropehnol or creosote treated wood should be avoided. Handlers of inorganic arsenical treated wood can be affected by arsenic absorption through human skin.

Sawdust from treated wood tends to become airborne with resultant human exposure by inhalation, swallowing and widespread dermal contact. To reduce the potential for exposure, the EPA recommends that individuals sawing pesticide treated wood in their occupation should wear disposable coveralls, made of a material such as nitrile or polyethylene, or similar protective clothing. Homeowners with occasional exposure should wear tightly woven long-sleeved cotton overalls, if they do not have disposable coveralls.

The EPA further continues to dissuade people from burning chemically treated woods: Do not burn wood in open fires or in stoves, fireplaces, or residential boilers because toxic chemicals may be produced as part of the smoke and ashes. By making these blocks into candlestick holders, you are directly contaminating your buyers potentially from the chemicals that can be produced in the air. Likewise, when you where handling/drilling these blocks you have affected yourself and others in the surrounding area to toxic chemicals. The following are potential hazards associated with VOCs and SVOCs:

Health Effects related to Volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds (VOCs and SVOCs): Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Cancer, Birth or developmental effects, Brain and nervous system, Reproduction and fertility, Immune system (including sensitization and allergies)

I’m leaving you with this so you know as well as your consumers. If you have sold any of these blocks, I implore you to either get them back or refund the money and explain how your consumer should discard them. I also recommend removing these items from etsy or the like where you may be selling them.

If you continue to have these up for sale on etsy I feel it is my duty to report the dangers to etsy before more sales can happen and the consumers could be affected by the toxics that can be released.

This is really only the tip of the iceburg of toxics that are in and around the Packard plant. The entire plant is laden with Asbestos. Take your time to do some reading and research the items before selling them.

Thanks for your time.

Sincerely, Keven"