With his Roland Hi-Fi Jet working overtime in the background,
churning out color print after color print of sleek Porsches, hot
Corvettes, and vintage Alpha Romeos, digital photographer Jeff
Dorgay is on the phone at his home office in Phoenix, scrambling to
fill orders for the holidays.
Dorgay takes the phone from his ear for a second and leans over to press a button on his Mac G4, causing another bright print of a high-performance automobile to whir through the Roland.
Things are hectic at WallWerks, the six-year-old company Dorgay runs with his wife, Jean, but with his drop-dead gorgeous images of cars in high demand, that's the price you pay when you're on a roll.
"It's just taken off better than we ever could have imagined," he says.
Dorgay, 43, has come a long way from setting up shop at his first auto show back in 1997 with 10 framed prints and little else to guide him, aside from the knowledge that he could do far better than the other "car artists" on the market.
"Mostly what was out there was pretty traditional: car in front of barn, car in front of driver, or close up of almost naked girl bent over car. I wanted to do something different."
And Dorgay has succeeded by being different, by offering images of automobiles that blend a car buff's keen attention to detail with the hand of a painter, dabbing from a technicolor palette.
Among his photographic influences, he cites Pete Turner, Dennis Manarchy, and the legendary Ernst Haas. His artistic influences—Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and the legendary Dr. Seuss.
Call it popular mechanics meets Pop Art.
"Being a car guy, what you really remember (about different automobiles) are the subtle differences between a '67 this or a '68 that. And when you concentrate on that in an image, it makes the car more of a piece of modern art than just a car in front of a barn."
For the brightly saturated colors in his work, Dorgay credits his artistic influences-who also include Rene Magritte, Salvador Dali, and the French Impressionists—and his love of cartoons.
"Bright lime green is my favorite color," he says, with a chuckle. "I love the Simpsons; all those colors are just great. I'm just not a subdued-color guy at all."
Dorgay has nothing but praise for his two Roland, six-color (CMYK, plus orange and green) printers, the FJ-42 and the FJ-52, for being able to bring out those preternatural colors. "Those machines are really the reason for the success of my work. The colors I can hit with them are just outstanding. It's like owning a Porsche."
His other secret weapon has been that along with appealing to the macho "car guys" out there, his artful prints attract lay car enthusiasts, including many women—a rare thing in the largely testosterone-driven auto art market.
His work has also drawn hosannas from the car companies themselves, landing him official licensing agreements with Chevrolet and Porsche. (The Porsche agreement was a real coup for Dorgay, considering that the German company had never permitted image licensing of their cars before he approached them.)
While he's an admitted "gear head" when it comes to cars, he's the same way with camera equipment, stocking up on the latest high-octane digital cameras, color printers (his beloved Rolands), and the newest scanners and software on the market.