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                                                  cars and manufacturers that don’t exist any-
                                                  more. Those things started it all for me.”
                                                        An early career selling typography for
                                                  a leading type house, working with top
                                                  designers, and schooling in art, graphic
                                                  design and electronic publishing cumu-
                                                  lated to allow Joe to take on his current
                                                  position in 1989. Through his work at
                                                  Archie Comics, he became proficient in
                                                  Adobe Illustrator, the computer-based
                                                  drawing and design program that would
                                                  form the basis for his private work, as well
                                                  as the logo, editorial and fine art illustra-
                                                  tions that he creates for Pepitone Creative
                                                  Services. Interestingly, though, he didn’t
                                                  turn his creative skills towards automotive
                                                  subjects until the owner of an auto body
                                                  and restoration shop near Archie Comics’        Buick by the Sea Shore
    By Mark J. McCourt                            Mamaroneck, New York, office, asked if he        “As I was designing this, I was debating
                                                  could draw a car.                               whether to include the entire car or
    Twenty years of working on                          “As an artist, you never say no,” Joe     just part of it. Something made me
    comic books and graphic novels is             said. “The car, a 1957 Corvette, was in the     gravitate toward the middle and back
    bound to color the way a person interprets shop for repair, and it’s the pride and joy        end of the car: I think it’s beautiful, the
    the world. For Archie Comics’ art director    of its owner, Nick Rizzo. Nick wanted the       way the lines fall. I wanted to make it
    and the proprietor of Pepitone Creative       car to be illustrated, and although I’d never   look like people have just arrived and
    Services, Joe Pepitone—or as he’s known       done a car, I gave it a shot. I fell in love    that they’re not unpacked yet, and the
    to his friends and to the art world, Joe Pep with it, and that’s how I started creating       kids are dumping the toys all around
    (written “JoepeP”)—this has influenced         automotive portraits.”                          already. That house was never at the
    his illustrations with bold, bright colors,         Using his website as an online portfo-    shore—in fact, it was down the street
    careful yet whimsical detailing and, in his   lio, Joe works exclusively on commission,       from where I grew up.”
    beloved automotive portraits, an over-        and he relishes the research aspect of each
    riding knowledge of and passion for his       job. “I just love going to car shows and
    four-wheeled subjects.                        taking pictures, and I’ve scanned tons of
          While he works today under the pen      reference photographs and illustrations
    name he created to circumvent confusion       from old American car brochures and
    springing from an identically named major manuals. When a person contacts me for
    league ballplayer, Beacon Falls, Connecti- an illustration, I’ll give them an estimate,
    cut, resident JoepeP was a car enthusiast     and we’ll start working together. If they’re
    from his earliest days. “When I was a good located too far for me to personally take
    kid, my parents would let me stay up to       detailed photos of their car, I will ask them
    watch The Untouchables. My grandfather        to do so for me.
    understood that I wanted to see the ‘old            “I’ll spend a lot of time ensuring that
    time’ cars. I don’t know what it was about the customer feels secure, and find out
    them, but I thought they were the neatest     what their favorite view of the car is and
    things. I also had a book that I loved called what special equipment it has so that I can
    Those Wonderful Old Automobiles, filled        make the illustration very personalized.
    with original advertisements for Brass Era          “Becoming too involved with the proj-

    1957 Corvette
    “This car was in the
    shop getting a minor
    paint repair when I got                                                                       1928 Cadillac
    the commission. All                                                                           “This car was borrowed from the
    of its owner’s cars are                                                                       Merritt Parkway anniversary poster.
    convertibles, so I was                                                                        The reason why I love it is that these
    surprised to hear that                                                                        cars are filled with special designs.
    he wanted me to show                                                                          Some may look at it and say, ‘That’s
    the car with the hardtop                                                                      just a headlamp and a fender,’ but they
    on in the illustration. I                                                                     work in such balance. I love to get very
    spent a lot of time on the                                                                    detailed, including the fluting in the
    badges, emblems and the                                                                       glass. That’s my forte; I want someone
    details in the headlamps                                                                      to look at my work and think that
    and hubcaps.”                                                                                 they’re looking at a photograph.”


 56 HEMMINGS CLASSIC C A R
                H e m m i n gs.com   | OCTOBER 2009
www.95gowu.com                                       Merritt
                                                     Parkway 70th
                                                     Anniversary
                                                     “Last summer, the
                                                     Conservancy director
                                                     asked if I’d do
                                                     another poster, so we
                                                     discussed what cars to
                                                     put in there. I thought
                                                     we could place some
                                                     old technology on
                                                     a new highway, so I
                                                     used a 1928 Cadillac,
                                                     which you could have
                                                     found on the Merritt
                                                     Parkway back in 1938.
  The Pontiac Chief                                  The fun part was
  “I once had a 1952 Pontiac, and I                  looking for people
  thought I could restore it: I learned              to illustrate in period
  differently, as you can’t fix a car with            clothing, and showing
  Dad’s wood tools. I was always drawn               the James Farms Road
  to the hood ornament. I loved the                  Bridge; I put a Packard
  amber of the Pontiac chief; years before           in the background. I
  this one, the emblems were all chrome,             gave the Conservancy
  and I felt that people who bought                  the master files
  those cars were cheated out of a hood              so that they could
  ornament that lit up. I wanted this one            create posters for
  to be a tribute to the designers: ‘Hey,            fundraising sales on
  you did a great job.’”                             their website.”



 ects is my Achilles heel, because I sweat
 the details, all the way down to the texture
 of a grille or the logos on the hubcaps.
 I’ve found that the tire manufacturers who
 advertise in Hemmings are a wonderful ref-          Gateway To New England
 erence, because if I’ve taken a photograph          “I read an article in The New York Times about
 and can’t see exactly how a tire tread looks,       a Connecticut group called the Merritt Parkway
 I’ll go to Coker Tire and look at the pattern.      Conservancy. The Conservancy works with the state
 I feel that if someone is paying hard-earned        of Connecticut to make sure the parkway continues
 money for the piece, I want to get it as close      to look the same as it did when it opened in 1938. I
 to correct as possible, to create the ‘wow’         love to give back to my community, so in 2004, I de-
 factor—you give it to them, and they say,           cided to design them a poster to keep my skills up.
 ‘Wow.’ Then they add, ‘I’ve got a ’59 Impala        The image is a combination of two bridges, and the
 I want you to do,’ ” he explains.                   1938 Chevy belongs to my neighbor. I also designed
       “I work with two computer monitors,           a logo for them, and sent printed copies off to the
 one which displays the photo of the car and         director. I got a letter back, and they were dumb-
 the other on which I’m drawing the car in           founded that someone had done this. I figured that
 Illustrator. Working in this program, I use         they have a national treasure in it; the Merritt Park-
 the mouse: click and drag, click and drag. I        way is the world’s longest museum. I didn’t have to
 find that this gives me more stability. I will       do it, but it was the love of the art, the love of the
 plan out each section of the vehicle, and           car and the love of the parkway.”
 study the car; I usually like to start with the
 wheels. I work in layers, with the wheels
 being the base, the fenders being the sec-        that will last 80 to 90 years, and if the       Illustrator is second nature to me now. I’ve
 ond, and so on.                                   customer wants an illustration framed, I        created a monster,” Joe happily told us. “If
       “There are times when I put back-           will have that done for them using UV-          someone asks me to draw something in ink
 grounds behind the cars, and others when          resistant glass.”                               for them, I say, ‘Do I have to?’ ”
 I don’t, as the main focus is to bring out the         Although Joe spends an average of 25
 beauty of the car itself. I spend time work-      hours creating a car that stands by itself,
 ing on the reflections, as they’re what make       and many more hours to illustrate a car         Contact:
 the fender or the chrome.                         with a complex background, such as his
       “When an illustration is finished, I         Merritt Parkway Conservancy pieces, he’s        Joe “JoepeP” Pepitone
 ‘flatten’ the layers to make one image. I          easygoing about the process. “It’s a labor      203-558-2921
 have the prints made on archival paper            of love. I have a passion for these cars, and   www.pepitonecreativeservices.com

                                                                                              OCTOBER 2009
                                                                                                                | H E M M I N G S C L ASSIC CAR
                                                                                                                   Hemmings.com
                                                                                                                                                  57

				
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