These Welded Auto Sculptures Will Leave You Amazed
Art is always subjective, and thus, a single piece must be judged accordingly by every seeing eye. As auto enthusiasts, though, I think all our eyes can agree that the automotive art done by Joshua Welton of Brown Dog Welding is downright phenomenal. I mean, just look at it. A former millwright at Chrysler, Joshua’s passion of welding miniature auto sculptures out of heat and metal started as a hobby. His first creation turning into a gift for his father. Today, buying one of his creations will set you back five figures, in some cases. From motorcycles, to pickups, to robots, Joshua is a jack of all trades. And we sat down with the artist to learn more about the sculptures and the business: RELATED: See Photos of the Morgan ThreeWheeler
BoldRide: How did you get started?
Joshua: As a millwright at Chrysler, the part of the job I always enjoyed the most was welding. During down time I was always running beads on scrap metal. After a while it’s just kind of a natural thing that you start sticking scrap together to make it look like something. Then a coworker was like “hey, why don’t you try to make a bike?” So I did, and the first one was a birthday gift for my dad.
In the beginning I was just taking found objects and putting them together. And for a long time I fought the title of “artist,” I wanted to be know as a skilled tradesman first and foremost. But eventually I embraced the idea of being an artist, and once I did, my work really began to evolve. The sculptures became more than an outlet for my welding; I was developing a unique style and really pushing my craft.
How long does it typically you to make a car from start to finish?
Going back to when I resisted the “artist” label, I use to think of everything in terms of how long it took. I’d race the clock, and when I was done I’d shrug off any part of the project I didn’t like by saying, “well, it only took me 2 hours, so that’s cool.” I tend to work fast anyways, so over the last few years I’ve forced myself to slow down. I’m not very patient, and I like instant gratification…so my first impulse is to finish a piece as quickly as possible.
Now I make myself take a little longer, if not by easy my pace then by setting a sculpture aside for a day or two. That gives me a night to think on it, and fresh eyes when I look at the piece the next day. I’ll still typically finish a motorcycle in a day, but the automotive pieces I’ll work on for two to three days now. And as the art continues to evolve, I spend more time on each piece.
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What’s the most challenging part of each project?
Honestly, right now it’s the physical part. I’ve undergone 3 major surgeries on my arms the last year, and I need at least one more. During my medical leave everyone would throw some version of the same “silver lining” to me, like “well, think of all the ideas you’ll have built up when you come back!” The truth is I will never have enough time to create all of the ideas the pop up in my head. Creativity and imagination are the things that I can’t explain, but come natural to me. The physical pain is the biggest challenge, and the fact that I love what I do is what allows me to push through.
Are some cars/bikes more difficult to create than others?
Definitely. Hot rods, bobbers, square body pick up trucks…the shapes tend to be more angular, squared off. When you start getting into cars like the ’48 Buick I just finished, or the ’51 Ford F1 I did last year, the compound curves add to the level of difficultly. And with the ICON “Derelict” style projects, working with old, painted sheet metal throws a few change ups into the mix as well.
Do you work with any mediums other than metal?
Nope, just metal. My dad and grandpa were both jack of all trades kinda guys. They could work with metal, but my dad also built a 4K square foot log home, and my grandpa use to shape compound bows amongst other things. Me, I can’t draw, can’t paint, and if something needs to be made out of wood I call my dad. The great thing about metal is I can cut once, then measure, then weld, then measure again, then cut again, and continue the process until I get it right!
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What do you enjoy making more, cars, bikes, other?
I enjoy the bikes for the instant gratification, and the cars for the overall impact. Lately I’ve been adding he idea of “Artificial Intelligence” to the mix. I like playing with the theme of a future where robots not only get along with humans, but respect our shared history. That’s where pieces like “Still Kickin’” come from, a futuristic robot kick starting an old knucklehead bobber, and also “Co-Exist” where a human female ballerina is partnered with a larger machine, kind of a juxtaposition of mechanical and organic, but both beautiful and graceful in their own way.
What’s been your favorite project to do?
It’s always the next one. I love what I do, and enjoy the challenge of trying something new with each piece.
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