Sunday Spotlight: Riverton artist Shannon Watts turns cars into art

(Riverton, Wyo.) – Shannon Watts’ memories are tied to cars- his dad cleaning the 1971 Buick Riviera he bought new and still has today, the Matchbox and Hot Wheels Watts played with so often on the floor the fabric wore off the knees of his pants, and the vehicles he captured in drawings that led him to a second career.

Watts earned a degree in graphic design and worked in the field for 16 years when last year feeling burned out, he quit without a plan.

Shannon6When he heard about a 1964 El Camino on the market for scrap parts, he bought it, planning to restore it, hoping he could sell it for a profit.

The car was an empty shell, the floors rusted through, the windshield crushed, the bumpers gone.

Watts drew what the car would look like when he finished.

Using the vehicle identification number he learned the car originally was white with a red interior. He went with a candy apple red instead of the original deep burgundy and added matching racing stripes down the hood.

Friends working on their own cars asked him to draw what their cars might look like. He uses felt tip pens, carefully outlining the body first and then filling it in with the ink that can blend like water colors.

Watts uses his intimate knowledge of cars to fill in every shadow and get every curvature to scale.

Watts solicited new customers at car shows who wanted their cars immortalized in framed prints or on t-shirts. You now need to book him weeks out for a project.

“For a lot of folks the cars become almost like part of the family,” Watts said.

For Watts, cars become art. Rebuilding one is like sculpting. And drawing one is immortalizing a memory.

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To see more of Watts’ art, click here.