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Even my business cards look like chairs!
Strapping my son into my brother's car at the Maxton Mile.
Nothing satisfies me more than seeing the joy my art brings. I love when clients send me pictures of themselves or others enjoying their chairs.
I’m an accidental artist with a love of automobiles.
I spent 30 years in public service as a firefighter, fire chief, and fire inspector in Ohio before retiring to Florida. I didn’t stop working though. I joined my brother at his classic automotive restoration shop, Coventry Classics, restoring Jaguars and other vehicles. Now I build and paint custom Adirondack-style chairs that look like cars.
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The first chair I ever painted was as a birthday gift to my brother. I saw a chair at the store and thought the shape was similar enough to transform into his Jaguar XK120. Everyone loved the way it looked sitting next to his pool and encouraged me to make more. I loved the idea of usable art and my experience at Coventry Classics had made me love hearing the stories of each client’s car, whether it was a barn find or had been in the family for years.
I made a few chairs and started going to art shows where people would ask for more information or a business card. I wasn’t sure I wanted to evolve my hobby into a business, but my daughter insisted I had something special that people would want. A day later, I was told I had a Facebook page. Three days later, I was sent a link to my website. A week later, I found business cards in my mailbox. I was in business.
Art was never a business for me. It was usually about making a little extra money or creating a beautiful gift. For many years, I painted portraits in oil and watercolors, and once worked for an airbrush photo restoration company where I would take old photos with water damage or tears, and airbrush the missing elements back into them. Airbrushing was the original Photoshop – I could remove unwanted objects or add people to an image. I also airbrushed murals onto the sides of vans.
I’m old school. I care about the product and the craftsmanship. When my clients custom order chairs, it’s sometimes about the car, but more often than not, it’s the memories associated with that year, make, and model. I love hearing the stories.
Often I’m able to incorporate details from the stories into the art – the personalized license plates, the colors, the locations, or the people. I focus on what is important to you. Sometimes the chairs are gifts and when people receive them, they do notice the customization – the tires, the fuzzy dice, or the research I did to ensure the accuracy of the year, make, and model. Having stripped down and rebuilt cars, both with my brother and on my own, for more than 40 years, I know how important every nut and bolt is.
When my brother passed away in November 2015 from cancer, his shop closed and I chose to focus more on my art. He had restored hundreds of beautiful automobiles over his career and brought joy to so many car lovers. I wanted to continue to bring that same joy to others.
I do all of the carving and painting on these chairs myself. It takes about 4-5 weeks to complete each piece. I rely heavily upon photos submitted by clients, but I also carefully research each piece to ensure accuracy.
These aren’t just chairs, but beautiful pieces of commissioned art, designed to reflect your memories and your love of that vehicle. While the chairs are completely functional as furniture, I know many of my clients treasure them as prized possessions.
PHIL CURREN AUTOMOTIVE ART