Designer’s Most Important Work Is His Porsche
Antoine Gaslais is a Parisian-based artist and classic car enthusiast. His studio, located just a few kilometers from the capital, is in a pretty, old village. And while he trained as a designer he’s been freelancing since September 2001 and parallel to his work as an art director, he developed his screen printing workshop craft. He obviously keeps very busy with work and art, but he says that his most important current job is working on his car, “because it is my favorite subject. In particular posters for my club or my travels with my Porsche.”
Q: How did your passion for graphics and classic cars begin?
A: I think I drew my first Porsche at the age of five or six on a piece of glass with a special paint. It was a blue Turbo with a huge black spoiler and big tires. My parents were not car fanatics but they loved old cars and some of their friends had vintage cars. I remember going for a ride in a Jaguar XK 140. The roar of the engine, the smell of oil and old leather, the rosewood dashboard, the beautiful instruments, the steering wheel that is obviously huge, the wind in the hair, the long hood… Since then, it has always fascinated me.
So I spend my life focused on the convergence of my passions. Take all your passions, put them in a blender with a touch of lemon and soda. Shake, pour, and see what comes out!
Q: Was it hard to start your career as an automotive artist?
A: Yes, very. The most complicated thing here in Paris is space. I started screen printing in a basement graciously lent by a friend. I knew nothing. I experimented for two years to figure out how to print images that I drew. Then I landed in this workshop not far from Paris with my friend Mr. Julien Borne who restores old Porsches in the garage next door.
Q: What is your favorite subject?
A: My favorite subject is cars. I love their shapes, lines, beautiful bodies. I love how they smell. I also like ugly bodies. I love stacking and sometimes deforming them. I love their simplicity and sometimes I like their complexities. I dream of cars at night.
Q: How does the creative process start?
A: Usually I like to have a subject. Then I do a long search for images, in books, magazines, on the internet. Then all shots are allowed. I often draw directly on the computer. Sometimes I prefer to do a draft. Other times, I make my own pictures, I scan, I photocopy, I draw. I also use a lot of spraycans. I love the pop colors. My designs are often very bright. Once my image is frozen on the screen I have to make films in order to begin the long process of manual printing. Once the films are in hand, I hit the studio for long hours.
Q: What techniques do you use for your work?
A: For my limited series, I make silk prints. This is an ancient printing process. It’s been said that it was the Japanese who used the first silk screen print logos on military kimonos to recognize friends from enemies. Screen printing is still used today for printing on clothes but also on any material that is not paper: street signs, the logo on your promotional pen… But I work with the old method, entirely by hand like the samurai’s fabricators did.
Q: Do you own or aspire to own a vintage car (and which one)?
A: I am fortunate to have been able to acquire a 1967 Porsche 912 three years ago. It’s my first old car and it is sensational. But the beginning was chaotic. I bought the car, and it had not been driven for ten years. I knew nothing mechanical. It took one year for to restart it. Restoring a vintage car is like restoring an old house. It’s long, difficult, expensive, but we do it with passion. Now the car has been running for over a year-and-a-half and it’s amazing. It changed my life.
Q: What is your favorite road and who is your favorite companion?
A: I love to travel, preferably alone. I love looking through the miles. I’m not a big fan of performance–it’s nice but it doesn’t makes me tick. I love the road. I love going from point A to point B. I prefer small roads with many curves and little traffic over long distances. This is why the “Little 911” with the “little” 4-cylinder making 90 hp delights me. It’s made for me.
Q: As an artist, when you look at a car what do you see?
A: A story. Every car has a story of its own. We often talk about “historical” cars sold at auction, but to me they all have a history. A unique story. That’s what I try to convey through my humble blog on my Porsche 912 and my images.
Q: Do you have an all-time favorite car?
A: I have too many! But if I had to choose just one: Porsche 959
Q: Where do you like or would you like to see your art displayed most?
A: At the MoMA!
Q: What is your favorite era of motorsport?
A: Perhaps the very beginning in the 1920s when there were no rules. When taking a turn at 50kmh was an adventure. This was Bugatti’s era, the world’s most famous sports car brand. I also really like Linas Montlhery. Built in 1924, it was the first French racetrack. Every year fans of classics can be found at the Heritage Festival Autrodrome Montlhery. Seeing a ’30s Bentley get on the vintage, dirty, banked concrete curve provides unforgettable sensations. I also really like America’s NASCAR today because it’s extreme, brutal, and because they continue to fix cars during the race with tape and hammers!
Q: Given the chance to design anything, what would you like to do, that you haven’t yet?
A: The dream builds daily. I do not know what the future holds for me. Each small step brings you closer to an often vague goal. There remains so much to explore. I do not know where I’m going, but one thing is certain: I’m going.
To check out more of Antoine’s work, click here.