My Blog List

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Tom Meade: Car Designer

(left: Tom Meade; right: Chad Glass)

For the next few weeks I will be posting content as a series of articles about Tom Meade, an exotic car designer and friend. We met through a mutual friend, author and film director Stephen Mitchell, in Westwood during a Wednesday evening Ferrari meeting at the Elysee cafe and bakery. 

As preface, I will post the original articles that arose during that time, almost 2 years ago to the day. After we have gotten caught up, I will post the new articles as updates to his activity. 

from Sunday, October 4, 2009

A Slice of Life, An Altered State: An Afternoon with Tom Meade

By Chad Glass

Having arranged a meeting today for conversation and coffee, I sped down Sunset Boulevard in Westwood, pretending I was in a Ferrari. The drive en route to have a second meeting with Tom Meade, whom I had been introduced to the prior Wednesday evening, became an exotic trip without having to leave town. It was sunny and mild as I downshifted through sweeping s-curves and hills. Tighter and turning, I could feel the front end gripping with the steering input; not bad for my modified Nissan, and enough to have me fantasizing about brief snapshots of a race I was never in, of memories I never had. 

What was real was the journey to visit someone who not only had Enzo Ferrari himself provide his personal contact information to (and talk for 40 minutes with Tom –an unheard of event for nearly anyone in the world—to speak with Enzo for one or two seconds is a long time), but pay a visit to a man who perhaps outdid much of that marque’s iconic styling in it’s vintage heyday of the 1960s. Included in the pantheon of Italian coachbuilders of Pininfarina, Giugiaro, Bertone, Ghia, Vignale, Zagato, etc... the American born Tom Meade defies tradition, being perhaps more Italian than all the prior mentioned. Goggle the word “Thomassima” (Toe-MASS-ee-mah), and read about his rise to notoriety.

As for me, being a storyboard artist in the Hollywood industry, I was excited to be meeting a car designer, and yet more amazed to be meeting someone who had rebodied and redesigned Ferraris specifically. As I have grown more interested in Italian automotive design, while dabbling in trying out some sketched designs of my own, I was eager to have Meade look at what I had drawn, but more interested in experiencing what this man had to say in general. 

Being a student of the world, I tend to absorb things that are interesting with free abandon. To be given an opportunity to learn something --anything-- from someone such as Meade, is a privilege and honor. Yet I choose to take it all in fun. Whatever we would discuss I already knew would be interesting. It would be because it’s about cars, extraordinary cars. Between gear shifts while looking down at my directions, creeping down the last street, I neared his residence and pulled off to park in the shade. 

His residence is designated as a whole number and a half, like “367 ½”. So even though I am actively looking for a half-number, walking around the premises, I become challenged to find the front door. The half number somehow doesn’t make itself very obvious. I eventually find it by calling his phone number and listening for the ringing. It works as I find myself standing on the landing of a unit one floor up and across from his.

Upon arrival and greeting, Tom wants to go back to the corner coffee shop where we had first met. I sense and get the idea that this is the main rendezvous for future meetings. Coffee sounds great and I find that is but a short drive from his place. As we make our way through some back streets, I voice that to Tom: “I see, this is some kind of back way; I can see we’re near it already.”

“Yes, just like in Modena, I know all of the back ways to places,” he says as we approach nearer.

Arriving shortly, he suggests an ideal place to park, a sort of secret spot. He is correct and this makes everything flow very nicely, like the lines on a Ferrari. And finding a table outside on the sidewalk, among the din of the traffic and the people, he plunks down a thick book for me to see, what appears to be a collage of pictures and articles –memory lane for him, an expose’ of his life for me. 

Straight away I open the thing as he begins to describe what I was looking at: Black and white pictures, all crisp and vivid, then color, abound. Very nice, and they all look like Ferraris to me, beautiful ones from the 60s and early 70s, but something strikes me: 

They’re almost Ferraris. I see familiar cues making me want to say what model that one is, what this one is, to show him I know about Ferraris, and….. I can’t place any of them. They’re not Pininfarina or Bertone designs. They’re his. But they look like factory production cars. 

“That’s a Nembo Spider,” he says. 

“Wow,” I say, “that is just gorgeous, the best spider version of a Ferrari I’ve ever seen.” I could stare at it for the duration of our time together, but other pictures await.

Page after page I have the same kind of reaction. The different models of cars are all equally as compelling to see, somehow looking a little better than the factory cars. They’re at least models that Ferrari should have built. 

stay tuned for next week's installment

Thursday, September 29, 2011

John Fitch meets Chad Glass (sort of)

For those not totally familiar with some of my recent (as of this writing) creative involvements, when following my posts one can know that, some time ago, I became involved with Stephen Mitchell's "Carrera Panamericana" documentary film, with the creation of that project's poster image that can be viewed here:

Subsequently, Stephen got in touch with one of the featured race drivers, John Fitch, and had him sign a limited run of the images. The event was partially documented via an iPhone capture. The man speaking off-camera is Don Klein, a close friend of John's. It was nice to see the successful "landing" of the prints at his residence, with positive reactions. Seeing the footage for me is somewhat delightfully curious and surreal, as if I were meeting John in some way. I am grateful for the opportunity to have connected to a part of that world in this fashion, through my artwork.

Information about John Fitch is widely available online, and here he is being interviewed by Jay Leno:

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Throwing the Book Cover at Him

(above image mosaic: preliminary book cover concepts by Chad Glass, in development, for Stephen Mitchell's forthcoming volume)

His stories can fill a book so he's writing one: Stephen Mitchell's past unfolds in 7500 RPM in 5th Gear --My life with GTO 3987, an upcoming book whose cover places the reader in the driver's seat. I thought I would update the blog and feature this work in progress as shown in the pictures above. I'm not entirely certain how the final image will shape up, but, then, isn't that the intrigue of a road trip, mile by mile to a destination?

Years in the making from teenage experiences to present day reflections, the book must judge the cover by capturing the essence of the title, the defining event of Stephen redlining his Ferrari GTO in 5th gear en route to Las Vegas. Not just a mere catch-phrase, it is no small feat: In order to do that the Ferrari must be going more than 150 miles per hour. To those not quite familiar with the original GTO, the car has no speedometer and only a tachometer. The now fantastically legendary sports car, GTO, standing for "Gran Turismo Omologato," was purpose-built (homologated) and intended for racing where extraneous weight and accoutrements are a liability, where posted speed limits do not exist. As such, it was a simpler time, a care-free time, where in Nevada there was no speed limit.

From preliminary blueline sketches that have begun to flesh out in the developing layout designs, the cover can be seen to evolve to include the restrained but powerfully suggestive GTO front sheetmetal thrusting forth beyond the dashboard. The central gauge reads 7500 RPM and both hands are firmly gripping the wheel. From Hollywood to Vegas to France and back, stay tuned for future posts as Stephen Mitchell's 7500 RPM in 5th Gear --My life with GTO 3987 continues...

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Ferrari GTO Drive-In Marque

So for a couple months now, give or take a week or two, I've become involved with regularly contributing my artwork to, providing Pete Vack, the site's owner, with sketches and drawings as accompaniment to either his or Stephen Mitchell's articles. It's essentially an online car enthusiast's magazine. For that privilege I am honored and look forward to growing that relationship.

And as this week features the 250 GTO as the headliner, at the annual concourse at Pebble Beach --the exclusive elitist event of the highbrow automotive collector crowd-- the GTO is front-row-center once again as the celebrity hero car of fanfare and adulation. For this commemoration Pete and Stephen collaborated on a rather lengthy article (found here: featuring Stephen himself as the man behind the wheel, the man behind one GTO S/N 3987 --ironically a car often more referred to as still being Stephen's, now owned by Ralph Lauren (see

At the article's inception, "GTO in Paradise," it was first discussed on a conference call between the three of us that the idea of nostalgia, concerning the baby-boomer generation in southern California, was to be the backdrop to the, perhaps, incongruous sub/niche culture of the European sports cars that Stephen and his peers enjoyed --outsiders within the greater car culture explosion of the time. Stephen wasn't into "little deuce coupes" or "my 409," et al, heralded by musical acts such as the Beach Boys. Stephen "got around" a bit differently, in a high strung Ferrari V12. Alas, he cruised Van Nuys Boulevard nonetheless, if not an oddity and spectacle of his own (imagine being 19 and driving a Ferrari to school).

As the days elaspsed I got busy with a few clients and had to shelve the "GTO in Paradise" project for a bit, but with pressure mounting began working on a takeoff image, a sort of parody poster graphic of the 1960s film "The Italian Job" which Stephen liked. Replacing the minis of the original, my rework featured 3 prominent cars, the Ferrari Breadvan, Stephen's GTO, and a 250 California that they would take up on Mulholland and drive very "spiritedly." The idea for "The Italian Job --In LA" was to be an inside joke that would have mass appeal.

I did like it but the imagery and work involved to properly create it began to reveal a time constraint issue that I had to honestly face: I wasn't going to be able to do it in time. The deadline was coming up fast, even as I had about 2 weeks to do it. With other things that arose in the interim, I was reminded that time can be quite cruel and unusual when things get chaotic. As such, I began to fall out of love with the image choice, and nearly felt I wasn't going to make it this month as Pete, seeing I was lagging, created his own lead design for the article. This created even more pressure.

So I had to rethink it.

What was going to say what the article needed but much more quickly, with much more focus and meaning?

Well, the above image posted here was the result, a nod to the kitschy pop culture of the 1950s and 60s drive-in movie heyday, succintly placing the reader in a time and place, in a specific mood. And it also acts as the literal marque to our feature article that, tonally, conveys Stephen's sense of personal cinema, his art of living, that comprises much of his life's story. All the world's a movie and we are merely actors.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

to Vegas in a Ferrari GTO

I've been on road trips and I've been to Vegas, and I've been to Vegas on road trips. But never in a Ferrari GTO. However film director/ friend Stephen Mitchell has. So I figured the next best thing to do was to capture its essence, that I may vicariously experience it through a brief snapshot as an accompaniment to Mitchell's wonderful account here.

In particular I've had a drawing laying around for months, a cockpit view looking out to Mulholland Drive with the Ferrari Breadvan ahead. It's a scene from another time, of an event I could only visualize and never actually do. It describes weekend jaunts in Mitchell's youth with his other Ferrari-owning friends, namely Matthew Ettinger, et al, owner at the time of the celebrity status "Breadvan":

With extant photos of Mitchell's past few and far between, I gleaned the proper period view and dash board of his GTO from some surviving old home movies. Upon seeing the footage it was immediately clear that he had fashioned these peculiar rotatable vent tubes on the dash, giving his GTO a personal if not unconventional touch. Whenever you see the three tubes you know it's Stephen's car. So I created a quick scene that was intended for ... something. As it came to pass, life and time got in the way and I set the drawing aside but kept it close within reach, knowing I would have occasion to get back to it. At very least I knew I needed to finish something I had begun. I hate not finishing things I start. The feeling is awful.

Fast forward to today: Stephen calls and needs an image of a road trip to Las Vegas as seen from his GTO. He remembers the Mulholland Drive drawing and asks if he can use it, minus the Breadvan scene ahead. I knew where the drawing was and went right to it. It was usable but had to be altered. I saw that I could keep the dashboard but not the scene beyond (And it occurs to me as I write this that the reason I shelved that original drawing in the first place was that, upon seeing it, Stephen revealed it to be technically incorrect: The depiction of hands on the gear shift, with the car going into a turn, was wrong).

The seemingly innocent action initially drawn describes a performance driving no-no: You don't shift and turn at the same time. But I didn't want to redraw the entire dash board and hands. Too much work. As such, I removed the curved road, the Ferrari Breadvan, and drew another environment and cut it into the scene: A lonely desert straightaway to Vegas, with the youthful Stephen shifting through the gears and riding to glory at high RPMs. The minimalist scene took a minimum of time and in a way, for me, cleans up the drawing.

I vowed years back that one of the gifts I shall impart to myself, when able, is to take proper performance driving courses. I can safely say that my training began while doing a drawing.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Illustration Art for the Movies, Part 3

With my involvement in creation of the film artwork of "Carrera Panamericana," I think it's important to acknowledge the continuing evolution of the artist in relation to the available technology, as that is what I have applied here. Technology is moreover a tool set. And it doesn't necessarily think for the artist anymore than a pen thinks for the writer --at least not yet. When placed in the hands of various individuals the uses and results of the application of that technology will follow according to the user's intent and level of acumen. Talent is thrown in somewhere, too.

There are some fallacies of belief about technology applied to artwork. Two main ones that I can think of are that: Across the board, the computer 1) replaces everything before it,  and 2) makes everything happen faster (with the latter being the most parroted falsehood).

Another myth is that drawing using a computer is somehow miles beyond in the deserving of praise compared to something merely drawn "traditionally." I surmise this is due to the still-ingrained or knee-jerk fascination with computers even though they have been with us for decades now. That is, if you can wield a certain technology that is esoteric, seemingly, to a larger group that does not use this technology, then somehow the praises must be layered on and that computer artist is elevated or deified.

As for me I tend to hide the medium I use but not intentionally for that end alone. I will use and wield whatever tools best help me to arrive at the conclusion I am seeking. Although it's been a long time since I've employed large swaths of paint, I am not partial to oil versus acrylics, not really. Each has its own requisite paradigm and character that will determine if it is useful or practical. Likewise if I need to alter a major component of an image, such as a picture of something that I have no practical access to as a live subject, then I will alter, lift, purloin, otherwise take what I need to achieve that end. And again the process is hidden. How the image was created isn't obvious to the casual observer of the artwork. A trained eye may know of course. But the intent is to entertain the wayward viewer, not to draw attention to the medium very much. The mystery is even better as it can, at times, elicit discussion.

As such I merge traditionally hand-drawn marker and pencil drawings with using digital layers. Yes they are markers and pencils --very unsophisticated instruments. The drawings are made as cut-outs, separate elements on bond paper that will have their own layer. In the computer the hand-drawn elements can be manipulated infinitely to attain the balanced compositions that are the desired outcomes. In that way, yes, absolutely, it is a time saver. With this process I can avoid entirely having to draw dozens of quick layout sketches or labor over covering up, repainting, redoing entire areas if such things are discovered necessary. Instead, now, if the car is drawn too big... who cares. Just resize it. If the flag is too dark when scanned, who cares.... color correct it. If the toreros' legs are too short, so what... digitally extend them. Were I to have painted them that way then I would have had to have corrected them anyway. But at much cost of labor and time --very draining.

Therefore in this beautiful process that quickly enables the end to arrive sooner, it incurs the added step of "post production." I can "fix it in post." But this is robbing Peter to pay Paul in some cases as the post process becomes its own universe and devotion of time. Pictured above this article are some of the key layer components to the "Carrera Panamericana" poster artwork that I had to create a context for. You can see that they are separate, floating as unarranged bits in a white void. Parts is parts.

It is therefore not merely the areas or rendered sections of the composite illustration that make the picture, but it is the arrangement of them. Arrangement of the shapes in a harmony is what separates a strong composition and image from a lukewarm or bad one. Therefore, one can render something expertly but fail at arranging the composition. This applies to myriad areas of the applied arts, particularly to music. What the computer primarily helps me to do is be a better musician, as it were. I'm able to think of the basic direction, rough it in, then spend more of the creative thinking time refining the last stages. In that way it is also like the darkroom. The negatives come alive and are finessed to artistry in the darkroom process (some famous photographers such as Helmut Newton had their own personal darkroom guy who would print the negatives under strict direction).

The biggest thing lacking is that of an "original." Were someone to ask (and they have) "May I see the original?" then I am only able to produce bits and pieces. In that way it is like animation cells. You cannot present someone who is a fan of the film "Fantasia" with "the whole original" as it exists only in pieces and only ever will. But what work to attain the finished movie. I can say that the longest phase of the poster creation for "Carrera Panamericana," aside from the Ferrari (which was a long process of creation as it had to really come together convincingly), was the layout of the final composition including all of the typography. The individual elements such as the flag and background were mere tiny roadblocks to that end!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Automotive Historian and Archivist Ron Kellogg with Chad Glass

pictured above: Ron Kellogg and Chad Glass with hood of 1965 Buick Riviera in foreground

Today I drove over to Ron Kellogg's house in Whittier to talk about some things and be among his archives. Since my completion of the poster for Stephen Mitchell's "Carrera Panamericana (1950-54)" this was our first meeting one-to-one. And as I was en route to his home, I went with the anticipation of a kid going to a toy store. Alas, my artist self had to be fed, and the guilty pleasure beckoned: I'd be talking about cars all day with a bona fide and involved car (and army) veteran --someone who was there to experience major automotive historical events. He's owned multiple Ferraris, a Talbot Lagot, Bugatti, Scarab, some one-offs (among them a one-of-a-kind blue Aerodyne, hand-built and designed like a late 30's French streamliner, that was in his garage); many others unknown to me.

I initially met Ron through Stephen Mitchell, whose Elysee' Wednesday meetings (in Westwood at the Elysee' Bakery, and then on Sunset Strip at Cafe Primo) would bring in a perpetual rotation of like-minded people. One particular night sometime last summer I arrived a bit late at the cafe to discover this guy sitting there talking in vivid detail about vintage Ferraris. Spoken in tonally well-articulated stories I instantly knew he was not only an owner and a driver of sports cars but an automotive historian. He introduced himself as Ron Kellogg and I immediately remembered his name.

Upon arrival at his place, he and his wife, Sonya, warmly greeted and treated me to lunch. Over lunch he confided he had owned over 300 cars. He spoke of cars I was aware of and some I'd never heard of. To my delight, Sonya revealed her penchant for a lead foot while driving Ferraris and Porches. I thought she was kidding initially but as we kept talking I realized she wasn't. After that Ron and I repaired back to his office, which revealed to be more of a giant "area." I only expected to have fun but when I began walking deeper into the surroundings I was bombarded with automotive visual stimuli. Vintage art and posters adorned the walls among shelves and files brimming with inconceivably voluminous amounts of printed material and scale models. Several car engines were standing among his archival premises. Banners and thousands of things in every corner invited me further in.

Easing into the center of the space, we chatted a while among his collections and then he flipped on a light switch. Something lit up on a wall behind a partially pulled-back dark yellow curtain, a glass wall. I didn't quite understand the spatial relationship as the area was strange to me. But what lit up was apparently a garage alcove with a perfect, sea-foam-green-metallic, 1965 Buick Riviera sitting in there. Was the Buick in his house? In a garage? We made our way into the Buick's stall and he said it was an unrestored original. The paint (which I touched with the non-oily back of my finger) felt as new as a baby's ass. He said the Riviera was "a keeper" in light of his having owned hundreds of other makes (and later on he had another "wall" rise up to reveal open space to the outside, overlooking the land below as seen in the picture accompanying this article).

We spent the next 6 hours chatting and going through some of his files. In that time I was perpetually occupied with investigating and discovering and discussing and brainstorming with Ron. I made scans of some photographs, some of which nobody has seen published before, and we called it a day. Among many things that he is, Ron is a curator and historian and one of the nicest guys I've met. The archival footage for the "Carrera Panamericana" poster were his and I thanked him for it. As the day slipped into evening my head was reeling. We parted knowing I had to return as I felt I had barely begun even though we had explored through hours of material.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Illustration Art for the Movies, Part 2

The process of creating the poster art for "Carrera Panamericana" began with a request from director and friend Stephen Mitchell whose "Elysee Wednesday" meetings I had been attending for about 2 years to date (having been introduced to the meetings through a mutual friend). He called me up one afternoon after I had watched the film and described he wanted the style to be a take-off of a traditional bullfighting poster. Eerily coincidentally I had wanted to create my own version of a bullfighting poster for the past 18 months or so, so this seemed to be the perfect arrival of that project --except this was better because the bull in this case was to be a vintage Ferrari.

A week or so earlier I had done a quickie design sample for the film's dvd graphic, the circular kind that sticks onto the disc itself. He needed it for preliminary copies of the movie to be handed out at Cannes. He liked the graphic but said it was a bit too abstract and conceptual, but could be used later as part of an ancillary suite of illustrations for the dvd book. He remarked that the signature illustration for the movie, the poster, needed to be more literal. Ron Kellogg and Stephen discussed it and agreed that we needed a bullfighting image. So I began it in earnest right away.

Stephen sent over some jpg samples of Spanish posters depicting the matador and bull with the red cape, the "Capa de brega." From the prior design, which included the checkered victory flag as the Mexican flag, I suggested to both Ron and Stephen that the red Capa be, instead, the Mexican flag. They liked the idea and allowed it, and once they saw it as drawn I think they really liked it.

As an illustrator and storyboard artist I am often called to draw things that I do not particularly understand. So I must implement a period of research before I draw anything. The research can be anywhere from five minutes to five days. In many cases with storyboarding the "research" must be about five seconds using Google images. With this project I wanted to create a brisk pace for myself as it was largely a self-imposed deadline, with the provision that Stephen needed the image yesterday. As I am accustomed to such requests I had to learn bullfighting as much as possible without obsessing over it for too long.

I perused Google images and some videos for a couple of days hoping (thinly) that the angle and body language of the matador, the capa, the angle of the bull --would all just leap out at me and I'd lift the image right off and illustrate it to suit the composition. But of course no such thing happened. For the red capa, it dawned on me to stop looking at literal capas in various presentations and start looking at flags furling in the wind. The body language of the bullfighter, and his traje de luces (costume), had to be just right or it wouldn't work visually with the flag or the car. I could feel that synergy very clearly.

And having no models of the specific Ferrari 340 Mexico sitting around to look at or take pictures of, I had to search and find what I could online. A process of "rip-o-matic" was the order of the day. Hence, with the time constraints and circumstances being as they were, there was no other practical way of working (which is often the way it turns out on other projects under pressure). The days of the model sitting in front of the artist while he/she paints the subject from life, the going out to meet the owner of the car, the meeting and screening of potential actors who will be the matador in costume --none of that is doable or in the sphere of reality in a world of "speed-of-implementation."

While searching for images, virtually none of the pre-existing angles of the 340 Mexico that I was seeing on various car blogs and forums were usable for the poster design. The images were either too bad in quality to make out, or the angles were weak, wrong, cut off, otherwise not interesting. So I began looking at angles of similar looking cars, vintage Ferraris of the 1950s era, and determined that I would have to adapt (as I often must) the correct body style (and proper decals) onto the incorrect one by filling in the non-existent visual material with my imagination and skill as a draftsman.

In preparation I looked at hundreds of photographs of vintage Ferraris, matadors with capes, bulls being stabbed (and some matadors being impaled, too), and Mexican and Italian flags. I made desktop files of each category and amassed a collection for later viewing and reviewing. Out of the disparate elements and bits and pieces eventually began unfolding the answers I was searching for. So it began, out of pieces --from out of pieces the poster derived, and from pieces the poster took shape. As such the poster is a composite piece of pieces, the regions of the illustration not originally drawn on the same page but assembled from hand-drawn scans of elements on separate pages.... (to be continued)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Illustration Art for the Movies, Part 1

Poster art and such ancillary materials can (potentially) hugely catapult a project to legendary status versus a no images or package appearing. Although not a movie (but related and subsequent to the title of this article) look at the stuff Storm Thorgerson has done over the decades for Pink Floyd album covers (see: ), ie, the "The Dark Side of the Moon" iconic light beam being split by a prism with the rainbow component bands of visible light on a black field --very simple but powerful as it is an instant icon of recognition. It hugely branded that band and continues to in perpetuity. Same for Gerald Scarfe's artwork of "The Wall" fame. His surrealistic cartoon images and animations made "The Wall" so much better than just the lyrics and the music alone. It created a total identification experience that was able to be carried forth into a live show and movie that became legendary and historical.

Merchandising and mascot-creation is vital to something successfully penetrating into the public's consciousness and sense of belonging to the work (another example with powerful imagery is the "Clockwork Orange" illustration for the Stanley Kubrick film --an instantly identifiable image that is practically a logo). Artwork and design are what fans identify with and want to display as their own tastes and sensibilities. In branding our projects we entice the consumer to brand themselves with it and thus advertise the project. They become walking billboards and perpetuate a subculture.

To read the director's commentary about my involvement in the creation of the poster for "Carrera Panamericana (1950-54) please cross reference: