An automotive artist ponders the mystery of how one starts a fashion trend….Can denim be art? One fine artist is willing to try denim as a means of promoting his automotive art. Recently he conceived the idea of hand-sewing copies of his finished portraits onto the back of denim shirts and jackets.
A portraitist of classic cars, Wyss admits he is confounded by the fashion world. He is entering it only to promote a possible commission for a portrait of a classic car.
After attending several Cars ‘N Coffee, the name for impromptu car shows all over the U.S., he decided that Malibu ‘s Cars ‘n Coffees, of which there are three each month, would be the ideal place where there is a confluence of art lovers and car lovers. “And they love denim,’ he says. What makes Malibu interesting as a target city, he says, is that it only has 11,000 residents but the home values there range from a million to $50 million dollars in value. It is the favorite residence of movie stars and rock stars—those that don’t live in the Hollywood Hills. And it is normal there to see Rolls Royces, Bentleys, Lamborghinis, Ferraris and McLarens parked at every shopping center.
So far he has concentrated on painting portraits of Ferraris, which he has covered in three of the 18 historical books he has written on cars. “But I’ll think about painting any car,” he says, “as long as I like the styling.” He has, at the bottom of each jacket’s illustration, a caption telling car aficionados where they can commission their car’s portrait. “I wonder if that’s going too far,” he says, “I guess I’ll find out.”
Will his jackets start a fashion trend?
“Now here’s a marketing question I wish the business students at Pepperdine(a local college in Malibu—Ed.) could answer,’ Wyss answers. “Whatpercentage of people in a given crowd need to be sporting a new fashion item in order for that item to suddenly be perceived of as ‘the new in thing?’”
Why not just sell denim bearing his car portraits all by themselves—without the caption pitching his art?
“Ah but that would put me in the fashion business,” he says. “These
jackets exist only for one reason–to attract the commission of a painting, ” he says.
Does he offer the choice of a favorite brand of denim?
“No promises,” he says. “I buy strictly for a classic look, not by brand,” says Wyss, who wears denim daily in his part time job as a horse wrangler at a thoroughbred breeding operation an hour East of Malibu.
A fellow artist said he still needs something on the front to tip off that there’s a painting of an exotic car on the back, but Wyss resists. “Part of the cachet of wearing plain denim in a place like Malibu is that it’s totally non-committal…it’s only when you see the back of one of my jackets that you realize you are in the presence of a car buff.”
A few weeks ago he added an incentive—anyone who orders a painting will also get a free denim jacket with a copy of their oil painting. “My first order was for a 2017 Porsche 911 targa,” he says.
Wyss will have his first test of his jackets’ appeal in Malibu during the event known as the Malibu Art Walk Nov. 18th. “Then I’ll see if they have appeal as fashion items,” he says.
THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss, a fine artist, has completed fifty portraits of Ferrari and is offering a list of available prints. He is the author of 18 books, three on Ferrari. He is currently looking for an agent for his action thriller novel “Ferrari Hunter“ You can contact him at Photojournalistpro2@gmail.com
Report by Angelita Castenda