by Clint Burgess
Artistic talent is an innate part of the human experience. Still, about 90 percent of people can only dabble -- they just don't have this fabled and elusive talent of the arts. For the other 10 percent, however, the world is their canvas -- and that includes the automotive world. Hand-detailing and design-stage drawings and illustrations are coveted touches on priceless works of hot rod art, though we 90-percenters leave those kinds of commissions to guys like Jeff Allison.
Born and raised in Spokane, Allison is a bit of a throwback. He has a passion for automobiles that was sparked at a young age but not fully developed until later on in life. While there were always old cars laying around the family compound, Allison combined his enthusiasm for metal with the stroke of a pencil. He got his start at a young age doing T-shirt designs for local auto shows; that progressed into doing posters and custom auto artwork on a variety of media.
"I really think of myself as designer," Allison says. The majority of work that Allison does is concept art -- the what-could-be visionary-type stuff that enables custom body shops to see where a particular make of vehicle could end up. The style and distinction of Allison's art puts him in a category all his own. His pen and ink work is brilliant, and his color arrangements are gorgeous. His command of line and his realistic depiction of what old classics could become is both forward and visionary.
Over the past couple of years, Allison has been working closely with the crew at Extreme Customs. "I did some design work for the Chrysler Airflow they worked on out there and ended up getting some credit for that project," Allison says. While the last couple of years have been a little slow, Allison is making a push to get his name out in the hot rod community. "Making a name in art is all about leaving an impression," says Allison. "You have to have a gimmick or a style that really makes people remember you." His trademark is a little head that he includes on all his work depicting a guy with sunglasses, a big smile and even bigger hair. It's actually an exaggerated self-portrait. Allison's hair is rather large; you may have seen his bleach-blonde 'do around town when he was delivering packages in a big brown UPS truck.
Nowadays much of his time is taken up with doing work for custom rod magazines like Rodders' Journal and Garage as well as numerous jobs with custom shops from here to California. "It's pretty cool when a guy whose work you've admired tells you that he likes your stuff," he says.
At this point, Allison is so busy with commissions he can barely keep up, and his contacts are increasing continually. "I think I have a style that is different than what a lot of people are doing right now, and that's appealing to the industry. I can do a lot of different looks, and that really works to my advantage."
With the work increasing and the name (as well as hair) getting out there, Allison doesn't have any plans to get out of town. "I try to go down to California about four times a year," he says, "but I've found that you really don't have to be down there to do what I do."
Visit www.jeffallisondesign.com to see what Jeff Allison does.
Publication date: 1/27/05