I received an email from Ulfert Janssen of SPEEDSTAR-GALLERY with a link suggesting I check out the automotive paintings from artist Markus Haub. Now, before I clicked on the link let me just say something. There’s a lot of keyboard button pushers out there who know enough to launch Photoshop, open an existing photo-file “borrowed” from the ‘net and run one of several Photoshop filters like “watercolor” or “dry brush” or “colored pencil” then call it artwork. I call this “9-point-11-second-art” which is the time it took to create their grand masterpiece. Okay – fine. You’re an artist. Don’t get me wrong. I like some of the images generated from this process…for about 9-point-11-seconds. It’s disposable, shallow and synthetic but that’s the society we live in these days.
So imagine my disappointment when Markus’ paintings popped up on the monitor. What?! No artistic filters? Damn it! You see, I really enjoy telling people the brutal truth in hopes of seeing the hurt on their face because you know…I’m a total jerk. I want people with fat asses to ask me if their ass look fat in those jeans because I want to tell them their ass is fat and quit blaming the jeans.
As it would turn out, Markus did not have a fat ass. His body of work was both shapely and impressive…wait what are we talking about? No Photoshop artistic filters! It was completely refreshing to see sincere and genuine artwork! Why have I not heard of this guy and really…who is this Markus? Well, let’s find out shall we?
WERK CREW: Before we get started – is that your car with the Martini Racing stripes next to you in the photo?
MARKUS HAUB: No, I just couldn’t resist taking the photo because it’s the same theme as my jacket. My own Porsche is a bit younger. It’s a 1993 964 – one of the last produced. No stripes.
WC: I totally won’t hold that against you. Any plans for adding an early 911 to your stable?
MH: I would love to. Maybe one from the early ‘70s – like me! But currently my garage is a bit full already.
WC: Well what the hell is currently occupying the early 911 space in your garage?
MH: I have a 1966 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia and a 1977 Ferrari 308 GT4 which are used in car events and rallies. The Karmann I’ve always loved. Maybe because my mother had one before I was born and I have seen photos. Mine is Stoneblue with Ivory roof (two tone), and pretty much in original condition with only 89000 km on the clock. I bought it 11 years ago. It’s so pretty and elegant and has something sympatic and peaceful. It’s slow, but I enjoy traveling with it. The Ferrari is more like the BIG dream. As a kid I was crazy for Ferrari. In 1989, my parents had to go with me to Maranello – a great moment in my life. I always dreamt of having one, but the dream went a bit lost over the years. Then last year a friend bought a De Tomaso Pantera (which was his child dream) and we went for a spin. Somehow it made me rejuvenated my 20-year-old love and passion so I started hunting for a Ferrari Dino 308 GT4. The only Bertone styled Ferrari and the first Ferrari production eight-cylinder car. It’s a bit of the ugly duck, but I love the pure lines and proportion. Sharp edges! Totally ‘70s! By chance I got offered a red one (was not favorite color on that model, but now I like it!). The owner had it for 23 years and restored it completely in the nineties. It’s still in very good condition and looks almost like new. I bought it in February this year and have already participated in some classic car events with it and logged over 2000 kms!
WC: Let’s talk about your art. In looking at your body of work, “Racing Legends”, I see evidence of multiple disciplines which to me is very uncommon. What is your background?
MH: I originally studied car design in Pforzheim/Germany. After some years of working for Volkswagen and Renault in Spain, I started my own painting technique. I always liked to take photos and think it’s very related to the work as a designer. There are digital and manual parts. I try to play with graphics, text or strong color blocks in my paintings, which brings it away from normal photography. Maybe it’s closer to Pop Art. I enjoy the freedom.
WC: What did you do at Volkswagen and Renault?
MH: I worked for both companies in “satellite studios” which are small units far away from the “mother companies”. That means that the team is much smaller and the atmosphere is more familiar. In the case of Renault, there were only approximately 15 people who worked at the studio. We worked mainly on production car projects in the early phase. Also, on some strategic projects like my last project with Renault was the TWIZY which now debuting on the market.
WC: Back to your art. Can you describe your style?
MH: It’s a mixture of photography and painting. I always use a photo which I take myself on a racetrack or a classic car event. Then, I digitally manipulate and adapt the photo to what I am looking for. After I print it and make a collage on the canvas. Then I start scratching, rendering or painting on it with different tools. This part is much more spontaneous with lots of little “creative accidents”. In the end, I apply a thick varnish on the painting in order to give a shiny and deeper look to it. It’s always a unique piece.
WC: Are you influenced by any particular artist, style or movement?
MH: Somehow I always felt very inspired by street-art and graffiti. Some years ago, you could see a lot in the streets of Barcelona. Maybe it’s the interaction with the building (canvas) and the city. Now it’s forbidden and most of the great pieces have disappeared. Long before doing the “Racing Legends”, I started to paint scenes from movies with Milla Jovovich. I love The 5th Element and Million Dollar Hotel and tried to capture the beauty of those movies in my paintings.
WC: Why these movies? Were you inspired by the cinematography or the very beautiful and talented Milla? I can’t blame you if it were the latter.
MH: Milla! In the 5th Element I love her with the red hair. Red is my favorite color and it’s on almost all my paintings. Milla is pretty in her very own way. It seems to come from the inside. In the The Million Dollar Hotel, I like how everything comes together – the music, the lighting and the settings. It’s very soulful and full of beauty. I also discovered the beauty in buildings (like the Million Dollar Hotel building in LA, which really exists) and started to work with cityscapes from Barcelona in the beginning and then New York, Paris and Tokyo. I just recently had a very successful exhibition in Lyon with mostly Lyon and New York images.
WC: So what tunes get played as you’re painting? Please tell me Nick Cave. If Nick Cave is not in your music collection then I’m afraid this interview is over. So lie to me if you must.
MH: Oops, over. I am very passionate about the music of Björk. It enters very deep. Also Peter Gabriel. Great stuff but I can’t always listen to it. Depends on the mood. I also like Everything But The Girl, Sade, Lali Puna, Au Revoir Simone, recently I like Maria Mena, Allie Golding or some German stuff. There is also a good internet radio show from a guy in Berlin (two hours every two weeks): OFFtrack.org or Fritz Web-Radio from Berlin…but I always need music when I work.
WC: How many pieces are in the “Racing Legends” series?
MH: The series will always be continued. Now there are about 200 pieces but many of them are very small (20x20cm).
WC: Do you have a personal favorite?
MH: I like a lot some of my latest work with a Gulf Porsche 917 and also one with a Maserati Birdcage. But that one is sold.
WC: What are you currently working on now?
M: I always try to spend my summer break in Germany and visit lots of classic car events and take photos for my blog and possible paintings.
WC: What is your blog address?
MH: My blog is www.formfreu.de which loosely translates to “shape” and “joy” in German. You can mainly find photos from classic cars, but also reports from car shows or design related topics like fashion, architecture and a lot of Berlin-stuff. I created the blog with a friend in 2007 and it’s developing very fast. We have more than 50,000 visitors per month.
WC: Whoah! That’s a healthy amount of visitors! Now can you tell us about purchasing your work? How do people go about getting a one-of-a-kind “Markus Haub” painting of their car or an existing painting?
MH: We recently created the new website www.speedstar-gallery.com in which you can purchase paintings or contact us for custom orders. There you will see customer samples. Plus, visitors can see pictures of the painting technique and details as well. Customers can send us a photo of their car and I make some proposals for the rough layout. Once the preliminary comp is approved by the customer, I can start painting the “real” piece which usually takes about two months to complete.
WC: So what are your plans for the immediate future?
MH: In September, I will be back in Barcelona and will start painting again. I already have some custom orders and also will do some new works for a new Gallery in Paris. That’s for December.
Excellent Markus! Hey man – thanks for taking the time! It’s been a pleasure getting to know the artist behind the art! Maybe some day I’ll have the pleasure of owning one of your pieces to hang in the Werk Crew studio!
Note: A photo request of Markus’ bum was denied…on several occasions.