You can call me Joff
Hello and welcome to my new website!
Until recently I worked under the name Artfortyeight – you might have come across me at Goodwood, Silverstone and other historic motorsport events over recent years. In that time I have been lucky enough to meet hundreds of fellow motorsport enthusiasts, many of whom have become great friends, supporters and customers. This has all brought me to a point where now, as an established motorsport artist, it’s time to work under my own name: Jonathan Carter, known to most as Joff.
Although I started out relatively recently in this particular field – showing a small, tentative selection of motorsport art for the first time at the Goodwood Revival in 2012 – I’ve always been immersed in the art world (read about me). My late parents met as hip young textile designers at the Royal College of Art in the early 60s, both producing work for Heals which won industry awards as well as a travel scholarship that sent them on a grand tour of Italy in a Fiat 500, in return for documenting and drawing their experiences. (I still have their journals from that trip.) Once married, they moved to Leicestershire to take up lectureships at the Loughborough College of Art; outside college, they painted prolifically and exhibited in many joint and solo exhibitions. They were both ludicrously talented, but my father in particular had a wonderful ability to turn his hand to any medium. Having painted on wooden panels for some years – sporting icons in a collaged, ‘Boy’s Own’ style that deeply influenced my own work – he began woodcarving as a hobby. With legendary sportsmen as his main theme, before long he was producing sculptures that proved so desirable, he took early retirement, built himself a workshop and began a successful career that brought him a long list of clients, even including the occasional celeb.
During my childhood, the long summer breaks from school and college meant plenty of time to pursue dad’s other passion: motorsport. He grew up rooting for the underdogs (Wharton, Parnell and Gerard), having been taken to the 1951 British GP by his uncle at the tender age of 12. Immediately he began collecting Dinky cars and then, when he was old enough, and had saved up enough from his paper rounds, he’d travel to Crystal Palace and Brands Hatch whenever he could. Fast forward to the 1970s and Mum and I were sucked in too; the three of us would bundle off to GPs, hill climbs and such – I fell in love with the sound of the BRM’s V16 at Donington, just up the road from where we lived. When he got interested in restoring classic motorcycles, the Banbury Run also became a regular fixture. My mother even allowed him to display a 1911 Indian in the hall of our not-ever-so-large cottage; it was his finest restoration, having spent five years or so turning it from twisted wreck to work of art, resplendent with the marque’s signature dark red and gold paintwork. He sold it when the lure of four wheels became too much to resist; mum must have been relieved the bright red 1959 Alfa Giulietta Spider he swapped it for (a) ran perfectly and (b) wouldn’t fit in the hall…
It’s really no wonder, then, that with parents who were artists and racing enthusiasts, I’d end up similarly occupied. Initially, straight out of art college I was creating architectural paintings – oils and pastel on cork, of all things – selling through galleries and commissions. When I rediscovered what was left of the (many) reclaimed wooden panels my father had collected for his sporting icons, I began to use them, painting rare-breed chickens and livestock. They were very decorative, stylistically quite similar to dad’s early pieces; these did well for me, some featuring in interiors magazines and selling at the Crane Kalman gallery in London. Then came the computer revolution, and a decade or so spent in commercial graphics, becoming an expert in colour management and digital imagery along the way. A few years into this phase, in 2001, my father died suddenly. Shortly afterwards my mother was diagnosed with a terminal brain disease; there wasn’t time to paint, and I wasn’t inclined to do so.
It was only following (strangely welcome) redundancy in 2010 that I felt the urge to go back into the studio. This time round I wanted to paint motorsport, knowing the research alone would not only provide me with endless enjoyment, but keep me in touch with the good old days – after all I had dad’s extensive collection of books, photos, race programmes and memorabilia to work with. Heaven. There was just the small matter of what my work might look like after so long. Evolution is inevitable, but it felt a bit scary and unfamiliar. It was important to me that the 10+ years I had spent working in the digital sphere didn’t go to waste; in many ways the stylus I used at work every day doubled as a paintbrush – fortunately my job exercised my freehand artistic skills – and after experimenting for a while, I found a way to combine paint and pixels. I drew vastly on my art school training in illustration – storytelling – while subconsciously being influenced by my mother’s style of painting. In this way I established a style of motorsport art I was happy to call my own, with enough detail and information to keep it from being abstract, yet expressive and illustrative enough to distinguish it.
For that first show at the 2012 Revival, the early pictures featured a small selection of my favourite cars: Porsche 917K, BRM, an Alfa 158 and Ferrari GTOs. With more events under my belt, I’ve added more racing art to my portfolio, featuring great moments from historic motorsport as well as modern era Formula 1 (by popular request!) – celebrating everything from Moss at Aintree and the Lotus 49 at Silverstone in 1967 to Nigel Mansell’s best drive and Lewis Hamilton taking his second title.
Portraits came shortly after – racing legends of course, but it’s the charisma that makes them so interesting to capture: Ayrton Senna, Jim Clark, Stirling Moss, James Hunt among others. The difficulty is deciding who to do next. Mike Hawthorne, Gilles Villeneuve, Jackie Stewart? I’m open to suggestions!