The Aviation Art Mission

The aviation art mission


I always say: driving a city bus, that’s what I DO, being an aviation artist, that’s what I AM. Been doing the latter for over a quarter of a Century professionally. Decided almost a Decade ago to perform a radical 180, in order to preserve my drive and inspiration, and shove aviation art into the hobby department. Because, turning your passion into a job is not always all that. The fun, drive, inspiration and creativity left me in the end. I had dried up. Sort of burnout.


These days, I do my aviation art thing whenever I like it, with whatever I like, without the pressure of time, performance, client’s demands. I’ve had too many deadlines and briefings in my time. No commissions anymore. I make stuff that I myself love to make. So, after that 180 and a sort of sabbatical, that drive came back, with a vengeance. I’m more inspired and productive than ever. Solely targeting military aviation subjects. I’m at home, finally.


I guess that many analogue and digital aviation artists have been at one point dreaming about becoming a pilot. Some even may have become one or still are. They are the lucky bastards. Me, I was not so lucky. I sucked at Math and had to decide to perform a first radical 180, not becoming a pilot but an artist. Following in my father’s footsteps, I started out in the advertising industry, but at an early stage I married my graphics to my aviation passion.


So, these days, this ‘wannabee pilot’ has a mission. Capture as much dynamics and spectacle in one still image. The end more or less justifies the means, all media are welcome. I need to feel that I am part of the adventure portrayed. And relate that sentiment to the viewer. Get him strapped into that fast jet that is flying wing over Iraq during Desert Storm. A sense of speed, dynamics, danger, in the best traditions of The Right Stuff. Just by looking at that image.


Realistic aviation art is very unforgiving. You are portraying existing hardware, mostly in existing or historical situations. Nine out of ten, the target audience consists of men and women who have worked with, on, inside these machines. Folks who have been part of an operation in a remote part of the World that you are capturing. You can take it to the bank that I will be severely punished if just one detail is not correct. I will definitely hear about it.


However, I’m a sucker for that challenge. I thrive on it. I get better, I’m forced to keep on researching and in my case, that road has been going on for about forty-five years. I’ve never been a pilot or mechanic. But, outside that, I have become sort of an expert on the subject. Even in a profile image, I’m looking for every hatch, panel, rivet. I want to know them all. And illustrate them in such a way that the mechanic can almost work on them in my image.


My subjects are military. Am I a war lover? By no means. Just like that pilot and mechanic, I’m taken by the sheer dynamics of that high performance jet or attack helicopter. They are the pinnacle of technology, aerodynamics and power, wrestled in one airframe, able to boundlessly roam the Wild Blue Yonder. Once you’ve been up there, you will never look up the same way, once on the ground. I belong up there, sweating, panting, crushed by G-forces.