Meet The MCM Fan That Illustrated the Mighty Car Mods Book
Since the recent release of our book 'The Cars of Mighty Car Mods', we've had hundreds of comments about the original illustrations. Who did them and how?
It all started with an image of our Subarute that was posted to our Facebook wall and when we saw the artwork we thought it was amazing. It was posted by an MCM fan in Germany by the name of Philip Ackermann. So we got in touch with him and asked if we could hire him to do some more. It was only once we started corresponding that the scale of what we needed became apparent. Philip spent the next 8 months creating 60 original illustrations that appear in the book. This is how it went down...
Tell us a little bit about who you are, where you live and what you do?
I am Philip, UI designer and illustrator based in Leipzig, Germany. I have spent the past years working for web agencies. Having learned from many great people, I decided to join a smaller team and help them expand their professional writing app. When I need some time off, I like writing music for my band or dreaming about Hakosukas.
The other big thing in my life is my four-year-old boy. Without him even knowing, he is a big driving force and a constant reminder to reflect on myself.
What did you first hear of Mighty Car Mods and what was the first episode you saw?
The first thing I ever saw of MCM was a thumbnail in the YouTube sidebar back when it still said “Recommended for you because you watched … ”. It must have been one of the driveway videos, probably around the time of Moog’s Silvia.
How did you end up working with Mighty Car Mods?
I have been in love with the Subarute since it was first revealed in the 2016 X-mas special (I guess I am a pickup fan in disguise). It got stuck in my head, so I made that first illustration of the Subarute and decided to share it with MCM on their Facebook page. I think the moment was just right – the anniversary book was just being planned and I happened to be there illustrating cars.
Tell us a little bit about the process of creating the artworks?
All the illustrations were made in Adobe Illustrator. The drawing process itself was a classic example of process optimization. Create a new document, load in a reference image, start drawing. Eventually, I found myself doing redundant tasks, so I made myself a template to start off with, pre-organizing layers, styles and a basic grid for constructing wheels. It helped me shaving off a fair bit of time on each illustration.
Another big chunk of time went into research for reference images and specs. The bumper on the R34 Skyline GT-T, for example, has a unique side vent, but only on the left side. One of the tougher details to get right was that very rare colored version of a decal on Moog’s Mini.
But in the end it was always great seeing it all the subtleties come together into the finished the car.
How long were you working on the book?
I have worked on the illustrations over the course of about 8 months. It’s hard to be accurate on the numbers, but with 4 to 6 hours per car, you may estimate a rough number of total working hours. Time management was an actual challenge as it required long-term planning and juggling with my full-time job and vacations.
How did it feel when you got to see the book for the first time?
It is always a special moment when something you designed on screen materializes into a real tangible thing. It was just like that with the MCM book plus a bunch of extra excitement. Holding this heavy piece of work in my hands that has travelled halfway around the globe, seeing the effort that went into it, and knowing about the significance of it – it fills me with pride.
What kind of car do you drive?
My car is a 2003 BMW 325ti. It’s the hatchback version of the E46 that was only sold in Europe. With its weirdly styled lights, it is considered one of the big lapses of the Chris Bangle area at BMW along with the E65 7-series. However, it happens to be my dream configuration – short, rear-wheel-drive, 6 cylinders, reasonable economy. Plus, the facelift and M package help smoothing out some of the weirdness.
As for mods, I only did a few things like an Alcantara steering wheel, coding some comfort functions and giving the ancient stereo some modern audio connectivity. But I’m definitely planning to get my hands dirty and learning to do some basic service jobs myself.
Any advice for any up and coming artists out there on how to get noticed and get their work out there?
First of all, do what you love to do. If you feel consumed by other things, allow yourself to set aside some time for playing around. If you want to progress, it is best to follow your gut feeling and if it requires you to shift focus a bit, so be it. When you have a creative flow, show it. ArtStation, Behance, Dribbble, you name it. Algorithms like regular content, so throw it at them. Lastly, don’t hesitate to reach out and let people know about your work. It doesn’t cost a thing and if you get to collaborate with them in return, that’s awesome!