Last November the famous automobile illustrator Art Fitzpatrick has died at 95 years of age. He was born in 1919 into an artistic family. His grandfather was an architect and his father was an illustrator in the company Walt Disney. In 1936 he enrolled in the School of Arts and Crafts (today the College for Creative Studies). After graduating, he was employed as a designer in the company Briggs Body Co., where he worked on various projects, including Chrysler and Lincoln.
In 1949 he signed a contract with the cars factory Mercury for drawing advertising illustrations. There he started his life-long collaboration with Van Kaufmano, who until then worked as an illustrator of people and backgrounds in the Walt Disney studio. Their work was noticed by automotive Group General Motors, which signed a contract with them in 1959 for drawing advertising illustrations. Their cooperation lasted until 1971, when General Motors decided to start using photos for their brochures again. Last industrial order was given in 1972 by Opel. Fitzpatrick and Van Kaufman proceeded to draw illustrations for museums, exhibitions, magazines and for collectors of car illustrations. In 2005 and 2008, Art Fitzpatrick was commissioned by US mail to sketch 6 car illustrations entitled “America on the Move”.
They had great success with drawings for the car brand Pontiac, part of General Motors Group. When they signed the contract, they traveled together to find a suitable motif for backgound. Art Fitzpatrick was sketching cars in acrylic technique (air brush), Van Kaufman was sketching the background and people in tempera technique. According to some information Art Fitzpatrick drew more than 1,300 illustrations in his life.
Text and photos: Georg Gedl / private archive