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Meeting PopBangColour: painting with cars

Meeting PopBangColour: painting with cars

We visit the studio of Ian Cook, the artist known as PopBangColour
Words

Richard Aucock

PopBangColour is a famous British artist who paints with radio-controlled cars. Since creating his first artwork 10 years ago, he has developed a growing following both in the UK and overseas. He has been commissioned by numerous brands and collectors – even the FIA. And it all started with a Ferrari…


 

“I had been experimenting with radio-controlled cars for a while,” explains Ian Cook, the artist who goes by the name PopBangColour. “An ex-girlfriend bought me a radio-controlled car for Christmas one year. She said it would be fun, but insisted I shouldn’t take it into the studio.

 

It wasn’t fun, but I did take it into the studio… I applied paint to the plastic wheels and began to explore what I could do with such a unique medium.” After graduating with a degree in fine art, Ian was working as a teacher and had a small studio where he created his works. The centrepiece of his degree had been ‘PopBang Colour’, which he describes as a “friendly explosion of colour… I chopped up toy cars and arranged them by colour, and this is where the style was born.”

After creating abstracts with the radio-controlled toy in his studio, the car enthusiast within Ian gradually saw his art with radio-controlled cars develop into drawing actual cars. He had invented a new art form. But he didn’t realise it at the time… “It was at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in 2008 that the cult of PopBangColour was born. The theme was Hamilton and Hawthorn, so I drove down early on Friday, set up my outdoor studio and began creating my first live artwork as PopBangColour – Mike Hawthorn in his Ferrari Dino.

Ian Cook, the artist who paints cars... with cars! Photo: Paul Johnson

I had no idea how big Goodwood was, no idea of what the reaction would be… but within hours, I had a crowd, and it lasted throughout the event. It was mad!” The Hawthorn Ferrari created on Friday 11 July 2008 is where the PopBangColour story truly begins, and the friendly, effervescent artist has not looked back. Within weeks, he had his first big commission, and he’s since gained a global following, creating hundreds of works of unique automotive art, usually in public and with full involvement from the crowd.

As we spoke, Ian decided to show his work by creating a one-off artwork just for TOFM. It was fascinating to watch the Ferrari shield come to life, as the skilled artist demonstrated his interpretation of the Prancing Horse with a glorious explosion of colour. Watch it come to life in the video above!

This PopBangColour original was created just for TOFM Photo: Paul Johnson

One of the biggest artworks Ian has created was at the 2017 Italian Grand Prix, to celebrate 70 years of Ferrari. The FIA commissioned him to paint a huge piece of art which the top three racers would drive onto at the end of the race. “The weather was terrible and it rained most of the time,” says Ian. “But it was a brilliant experience – the tifosi kept me going with their passion, and we finished on time!” Ian has also painted at World Endurance Championship events, Ferrari Racing Days weekends and dozens of other events both in the UK and abroad.

And it was Ferrari that has been the constant thread in his career. “It’s such a special brand,” he says. “I love painting Ferraris and love the passion of Ferrari enthusiasts.” “The Ferrari F40 I created is probably one of my favourite artworks, and perhaps one of my most well-known. I still have the original Hawthorn Dino in my studio too, and it will probably always remain there. Ferrari will always hold a special place in my heart.”

Ferrari