The inspiration behind the Porsche art: why Chris Labrooy dreams big
The celebrated digital artist on his love of Porsche, creative process and NFTs
Chris Labrooy sculpture of yellow racing driver and Porsche 911
Fresh from creating his stunning Dream Big. installation during Miami Art Week, the leading digital artist explains how he brought his virtual designs to life, his appreciation for Porsche cars and how he sees NFTs as a gateway to great new art
Visitors to the world-renowned Miami Art Week at the end of 2022 cannot have failed to notice the imposing sculpture on the beach at the Pérez Art Museum. It was the work of Chris Labrooy, a Scottish artist and lifelong Porsche fan, who has already made a huge splash in the world of Porsche with his colourful, surreal approach to his craft. He tells us the story behind his contribution to The Art Of Dreams project – a series of interactive art installations launched by Porsche in 2021 – as well as his thoughts on creativity, why he loves Porsche cars and how Web3 and NFTs have the power to revolutionise the art world.What is the Dream Big. installation about? What is it made of and how long did it take to produce? The brief from Porsche was to create a piece of artwork which explored the theme of dreams. They also wanted to incorporate a car as part of the installation which was a challenge that excited me. The project – a steel metal structure with a fibreglass skin – took about four months from inception to completion.
Chris Labrooy sculpture of driver and Porsche 911 at sunset
Chris Labrooy’s Dream Big. sculpture featuring a larger-than-life racing driver and a Porsche 911 Carrera 4S was a must-see at the Art Basel event in Miami in winter 2022
Where did the inspiration come from? We’re guessing that you played with model cars as a child growing up in Scotland. Roleplaying as a child feeds into creativity, doesn’t it?The code name for the project was ‘caught the bug’ in reference to catching the car bug. Car enthusiasts are usually always born young. I’ve been a car enthusiast for as long as I can remember. Crawling along the floor pushing a diecast car is a vivid memory from my youth. Cars have a way of stimulating your imagination as a child which is hard to shake, and the Dream Big. sculpture is definitely about this. What do you think of the final result? How did people react when they saw the physical installation?I am super happy with the finished result and the sculpture was well received from people I spoke to during the event at the Perez Art Museum. It was specifically developed as an outdoor installation, and I feel the decision to use a bold colour like Signal Yellow [an iconic Porsche paint colour] really helped to cut through any visual noise. I had warm messages after I returned home from people who went more than once to see it. The museum and context is really spectacular. Can we expect to see more in the Dream Big. series?It’s possible. There could be an interesting digital component to the project in the future and it could evolve into something unexpected. Or maybe there is a Dream Small in which the scale is shrunk down. All dreams matter, big and small.
Artist Chris Labrooy sitting, wearing pink hoodie
Scottish artist Chris Labrooy: “I’ve been a car enthusiast for as long as I can remember. Crawling along the floor pushing a diecast car is a vivid memory from my youth”
Dream Big. is part of the The Art of Dreams initiative from Porsche. How important is it to dream, whether you are young or old?The collision of your thoughts, memories and dreams are so important to creativity. You’re someone who is best-known for working in the digital sphere – what are the benefits/attractions to doing this? How different is the process, and what are the challenges, when creating physical works of art?Digital has very few limitations, which is very appealing. My imagination can roam free, and I can explore surreal ideas like putting 12 Porsche 911s in a swimming pool which would be problematic to do in reality. Using CGI, I can render surreal dreamy ideas in a photographic way that can play tricks with the viewers’ eyes. Working digitally has a lot less friction which was one of my initial attractions to working in this way. You can be self-sufficient in the digital space and create different projects without requiring outside expertise and specialist skillsets. However, one of the attractions of working on physical projects is interacting with specialists and talented craftspeople to bring a project to life. Large, physical sculpture is a real team effort.
Digital art of yellow Porsche 911 submerged in swimming pool
One of Chris’s most famous pieces of digital art is Yellow 911 Turbo In A Pool, which featured a 911 (type 930) Turbo in a swimming pool
You’re well-known for your love of Porsche cars. What is the attraction of using Porsche cars, as you have done on many occasions?Pure driving pleasure. I love how the steering wheel feels in my hands. I love the carbon bucket seats that are positioned low in the car. The flat-six engine has good power and a wonderful sound. The design and ergonomics are all very pragmatic, which appeals to me. Spirited driving is the easiest way for me to achieve a mindful state where I’m present in the moment.
The 911 is definitely an artwork to me. I am in awe of car companies because they create such complex products that are comprised of so many disciplines
Chris Labrooy | Digital artist
Did you have posters of Porsche cars on your wall when you were younger? I had plenty of car posters on my wall growing up with various types of cars – but one standout was a silver Porsche 959. Do you consider the 911 a work of art – and a timeless one at that – in its own right?It is definitely an artwork to me. I am in awe of car companies because they create such complex products that are comprised of so many disciplines. There is artistry in being good at something. There is art in really good mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, material science and product design, etc. The 911 is a confluence of all the above into a single automobile with artistry embedded into all of its parts. Is there a particular process you follow for everything you create or is each piece of art different? The creative process is organic and always in flux. The timeframe can range from a single day to six months depending on the project. The most important thing that I do daily is to record all of my thoughts down on paper for use at a later date. I have stacks of paper that I will browse through looking for things that catch my eye. The next step is to nurture the idea into something more refined and crafted.
Digital art of Porsche cars in fishing net above house
Chris’ art – like Pink Porsche Carrera RS's, pictured here – mixes the surreal, the colourful and objects familiar from real life
Tied up with Web3 is the explosion of interest in NFTs. Do you remember when you first heard the term NFT – were you excited by the scope it offers?I did not really understand NFTs when I first encountered them, and it took some time to wrap my head around them. There were a lot of messages from other artists flying around and there was a real buzz in the air. What’s your favourite NFT piece you’ve seen and why?The interesting thing about the NFT space is that it is a gateway to discover interesting new creators. A good artist I’ve discovered via Web3 is Nicolas Sassoon who uses the language of early computer graphics to express his ideas. I had to collect one of his pixelated architecture studies. There is something very comforting about his minimalistic style.
Chris Labrooy art of deconstructed model driver and Porsche 911
Chris Labrooy on creativity: “The collision of your thoughts, memories and dreams are so important to creativity”
What goes into designing your own NFTs? Can you explain the process?NFT is a technology that can be used to certify authenticity and ownership of an asset on a blockchain. I create my artwork using my normal processes. When it’s complete I can then mint it as a unique NFT on the blockchain.What do you see as the future for NFTs – their growth, potential and worth (in artistic terms)? Will the physical and digital continue to merge?One interesting application for me is in the gaming space. Auto racing games are a great example. The ability to own, collect and drive digital vehicles is a very cool concept that the blockchain can facilitate. Perhaps in the future you could have a digital twin paired to your real car.
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