|Sketching in Burbank.|
The scene: Late-night television. A man with odd hair and a strangely compelling voice and demeanor wanders across an art studio, wiping what could be paint, might be blood from a brush. He pauses, looks to the right, then back at the camera, and says "What do drawing hot rods and custom cars, sweeping a shop, and drawing a fat lady sitting on an overturned bucket all have in common? They can come together, and lead you to a glorious career in illustration and hot rod design! It worked for Brian Stupski, although his results may not be typical. Thank whatever god it is you may worship for that."
He goes on to describe Brian's youth, growing up in a house with car-obsessed parents, jobs sweeping floors in shops, selling auto parts, collision repair, and eventual decline to working in a cubicle. The lighting goes dark, almost somber... "Neckties," he explains, "seem to cut off just enough of the blood flow to stop the really creative stuff from moving between the brain and the rest of your body. Brian witnessed this activity throughout his twenties. Thoughts of golf, however, get through OK, almost better than anything else. Soon, you're high-fiving and fist-bumping the sales staff, talking about LeBron's 38 rebounds last night, and looking at a Lexus. It's scary. And left unchecked, well... let's not go there."
"As a kid," our odd, sort of lanky host continues, "Brian wanted to be an automotive engineer. A stylist, A designer. The next Harley Earl... or, at the very least, the guy who came up with the split rear seat in a Camaro. Exposing the hump... Brilliant. Sounds like something you'd read on the Enquirer. 'Hollywood Legend Caught in Midnight Tryst With Talk Show Diva: Exclusive Photos Expose the Hump that Rocked the Hills'. What were we talking about? Oh yeah, engineering." He pauses for a sip of coffee. "Brian started down that road. Mathematics, Engineering. Sadly, his youthful mind was filled with visions of fast cars, girls, parties.... Imagine walking from a room full of guys talking slide rules and angles, and wandering into a room loaded with laughter, girls, music ...and naked models. Yes sir, the Fine Art building. Or 'Home' as he called it. A trek to the Administration offices, and he was on to a new major: Fine Art."
"Building on his natural skills for drawing, our subject honed skills in painting, sculpture, printmaking, design, typography, and balancing a full-time job and building his Chevelle from garage-based basket-case to boulevard basket-case. Jobs in auto parts stores, collision shops and more gave him experience in how things were put together, and what it took to build a car, manage a project and so-on. Between this work, he'd draw and paint. Life drawing classes were a constant stream of oddly-proportioned models and strange fruit and dinnerware. Our boy honed observational sketching, art history and technique, and hit on girls. When he wasn't hitting on those girls, he'd hit on other girls. 'Art', he famously said, 'seems to involve a lot of girls and booze. I'm imagining that the job market is gonna be tough upon graduation'. A visionary statement indeed."
The scene is a blur of painting, drawing, partying, working, and finally, a long shot of an office building. The camera weaves through a maze of offices and cubicles. The focus sharpens as it nears one cubicle in particular, where a man is printing off a page from his computer. The camera pans past photos of hot rods, sketches made on company memos, depicting low-slung sleds and high-powered street machines... Continue panning and land on what emerges from the printer: A letter of resignation.
Brian is off to start his own Studio: Problem Child Kustoms. Odd name, odd fellow. A match made in Oddville.
The screen fast-forwards through many a late night drawing thrash, with car after car scrolling across the screen, peppered with t-shirt and print designs, grocery lists, web sites, and an occasional suicide note. Numerous magazine features with our subject's work, both illustrations as well as the cars they've inspired. Not an easy life, raising three boys and a couple of dogs, working eighteen hours per day, occasionally all night, too. But he's pushing forward. Enjoying the friends he's been fortunate to make, and reveling in meeting his hot rod heroes.
"Certainly, it's not all happy times and sunshine. It's hard work, dedication, and an absolute passion for doing something you love. Forging a new path, breaking new styles, and finding a way to push forward when all seems bleak. For Brian, it's a lot of that plus trying to make the power steering in the family car stop squealing. He's a giver. You can be one, too, and follow his footsteps to art and design freedom. You can stop by and learn more at www.problemchildkustoms.com, or follow his day-to-day whatever it is on Facebook at www.facebook.com/PCKStudio , where you'll learn valuable tips on being a self-employed arteest, laugh and cry with him as he fits 80+ hours of work into into four days, and generally marvel at how he managed to land a beautiful wife and have kids."
The camera follows our host as he motions us aside, leans in and quietly offers the following: "Or, just skip all of that, and follow his sage advice, and become a dentist. 'Those guys make a sh*tload of cash', Brian says, 'but they have to deal with people and touch their mouths. I've never really had to do both at once while drawing a car'. Amen, brother. Amen."