There’s more to motor careers: Automotive Artist
A career in automotive can seem daunting if you’re not too technically-inclined. But Liz Salisbury didn’t let that stop her, and has combined her two passions – motorcycling and drawing – into a successful career, and a huge social media following.
What came first - drawing or bikes?
Drawing came first, long before bikes. My earliest memories are drawing in the back pages of books until my parents started buying plain paper pads for me to scribble in. I wasn’t particularly brilliant at it, but I enjoyed it and was always doodling on whatever workbook corner or scrap of paper I had available going through school, and inevitably ended up being the ‘arty one’.
Motorcycles came much later. When I was a teenager I thought they were cool and as soon as I was old enough to get a 125 that became my new passion. The two came together when I was in college doing A levels, I’d chosen art as one of my courses, and I was interested in bikes, so I started painting bikes and using them as subjects.
When did you realise that your hobby could be a career?
I studied graphic design in college and university, and knew I wanted to do something creative. The hobby grew separately from my education, using my cartoon style to complain about things happening in the motorcycle industry and sharing it on social media. This progressed from people on Facebook wanting cartoon versions of themselves and their bikes, and I was able to start selling cartoons to fund my motorcycle upkeep and trips away, while continuing to make the cartoons of my own character to complain about or highlight my different encounters as a motorcyclist. It started slowly, bit by bit adding a website, business accounts, and it grew into reliable income and a little business that I could be proud of.
What job’s have you done before following your passion and becoming an Automotive Artist?
I’ve had several jobs unrelated to motorcycles or art, and for the last 4 years I’d worked at Covec Ltd as their office manager. This is the company that develops and manufactures Bull-it motorcycle jeans and Covec technical fabrics. Along with admin responsibilities, I could use my artistic talents and university learned skills to help design and visualise products and create promotional materials and print products. I knew that eventually I wanted to try and take my own business full-time and at the end of 2023 I saw the opportunity to take the risk.
What has been the pinch me moment of your career?
Seeing my artwork go viral was hugely exciting; watching as the number of people that’ve seen the cartoons I share go into the millions and looking back to think about how much they’d grown since I started. I’m most active on social media and rely heavily on it for exposure, so when big companies share my work and it gets a positive reaction it’s always a bit of a ‘wow’ moment.
Is there anything that you wish you had done differently?
I’ll always wonder how things would be now if I’d gone fully self-employed earlier; the success of my artwork fluctuates and there was a time early in 2023 when I had a huge spike in popularity but couldn’t keep up with it due to my other commitments, and so it died out and I missed opportunities. Now that I don’t have any distractions I’m determined to answer yes to everything and see where I end up.
What advice would you give to other young people interested in automotive illustration?
If you enjoy it, put yourself out there and be proud of your work - people will love to see it, particularly the automotive audience, which is passionate and encouraging. Take every opportunity you can and say yes as often as possible.
There’s a lot of competition out there, particularly in this new age of AI and the computer generated images that are flooding the internet, so do what technology can’t – be different, embrace imperfections and personal quirks in your artwork to make yourself relatable and memorable and someone who people will want to work with and order from.
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