Ego is something we see plenty of in today’s world, particularly when speaking of or to somebody with a fair amount of talent or skill in their chosen field. That being the case, it’s refreshing to come across an artist with as much talent as Grand Rapids, Michigan’s own Scott E. “Buck” Buckmaster, who puts his ego in the backseat and allows his art to speak for itself.
Art only belongs to its creator until it’s finished, then it belongs to the world.
Art only belongs to its creator until it’s finished, then it belongs to the world: this seems to personify Buck’s attitude towards his art. An Art Educator in LeRoy, Michigan, he genuinely seems to draw a huge amount of inspiration from the people commissioning these pieces, as well as from the cars and subjects themselves. Passion is an important part in creating anything, because without it, it ceases to be art and becomes a product. Buck’s passion for art, cars, and the people who own them is clear as day in his work as well as in his words.
We here at Rod Authority were able to put together a Q&A session with Mr. Buckmaster, giving all of us the opportunity to get to know him a bit, allowing us some insight into his inspiration and motivation. Enjoy.
Rod Authority: Tell us a little bit about how you became interested in art.
Scott E. “Buck” Buckmaster: I got into art when I was young. I was always drawing and doodling. At three I was building three-dimensional multi-floored houses out of paper and masking tape. Initially, I went to college at General Motor’s Institute of Engineering and Business Management (now Kettering) to go into Mechanical Engineering, but my math skills were not up to par so I had to leave. I then went back to school to get my degree for teaching to my strengths, art and English. It was a student of mine, who requested a piece of artwork for her to give to a relative as a special gift that sparked the initial interest in vehicle portraiture.
I had forgotten how much I loved drawing cars until then. Since then I have drawn numerous vehicles. I love getting to know the vehicles and the owners. My many repeat customers and the stories they share relaying their passion for their vehicles bring special meaning to the vehicle portraits. Some of the stories are heartbreaking, some are uplifting, but I appreciate every single one of them.
RA: What is the most difficult piece you’ve ever created?
Buck: The most difficult piece I have created was probably 9 years ago. It was a drawing for a customer that had to sell his ride because of the recession. It had hit him hard, so he made a deal with his wife; He sells the car and gets to have me do a rendering of it. I was honored.
RA: Do you have a particular piece you’re most proud of?
Buck: As far as my automotive art, I am most proud of my image done for a customer who had a life threatening condition. I had drawn this particular woman’s husband’s Mustangs many years earlier as a gift for her husband. Years later, the husband re-did her car when she went into remission and I was asked to redraw one of the Mustangs in its new paint scheme. The car was rechristened “Second Chance.” I was honored to be included in that celebration. When I dropped off the first portrait of the Mustangs, I had a lovely coffee with her and her mother who had been diagnosed with a similar debilitating condition. When I drew the new one it was another opportunity to sit and chat with her about family, and what truly is important in life. I am proud of how my artwork can create moments that are so genuine. I am often startled when it happens.
In my broader artistic library, the one I am proudest of is a watercolor portrait of a student I had in my painting class. I made it a point many years back to never do a painting or drawing put forth by one of my students. Last spring I gave in and did an image of a student. She passed away in a car crash last summer, so I was able to give her family the painting. I am proud of that image, because it has a great story attached with it, and a special meaning to numerous people.
My favorite pieces of art are the ones I created that end with friendships and treasured moments.
RA: What’s your preferred medium?
Buck: My preferred mediums are Prismacolor Pencils, drawing pencils, and acrylic paints. I also like challenging myself with developing new art forms or styles as I have with my entries in the last two ArtPrize events in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Outside of visual arts, I enjoy playing guitar, building guitars and amps, and working construction.
RA: Who are your biggest influences as an artist?
Buck: My biggest artistic influences are people like Tom Hale, Vargas, Ed Roth, M.C. Escher, H.R. Giger, Picasso, as well as my artistic friends. I also like the designers of muscle cars from the big three. I was supposed to meet with Tom Hale one time but he had to cancel. He is on my bucket list of people that I would like to meet. He is a genius automotive artist.
RA: What advice would you give to a younger person that is interested in art, but has no prior experience with it?
Be humble, and know that you can still be taught things. I am pretty sure that my best work is yet to come.
Buck: Get out of the habit of using the phrase: “I wish I could draw like that (or whatever thing it is you wish about). Wishing is an empty bag of tricks. I have gotten where I am because I work on my skills. I am drawing every day. I ask my peers constantly for input and critique. I am my own worst critic. You have to accept your work as well. As a perfectionist, it can get kind of dicey if something is not quite working out. In that same thought, don’t ever think that you are the best that you are going to be, or you can’t get better. Be humble, and know that you can still be taught things. I am pretty sure that my best work is yet to come.
Buck: My summers are spent going to car shows where I am welcomed and am treated well for my talents by the promoters. I have met some of the kindest people at car shows, like Ed and Donna Ryan in St. Ignace, as well as Kyle and April Brow. A lot of these people become part of my extended family. These mini-vacations and reconnecting with car show friends are a highlight of my summer.
As I get closer to retirement from education, I hope to get more involved with more car shows. People are often contacting me and offering me opportunities to participate in their events. When able (generally outside the school year), I do go to their events. I have been very fortunate that my art has allowed me to have these experiences. It would also be fun to get involved with some type of automotive design eventually doing renderings for one of the big three. I will be contacting people about this in the years to come.
In my leisure time I am a fisherman and a camper. Often I find those quiet moments fishing and camping to be a great time to plan for my next artistic adventure.
Rod Authority wants to thank Mr. Buckmaster for taking the time to share with us. If you have any questions or would like to contact him about commissioning a piece, feel free get in touch with him via his social media accounts, website, or give Buck a good, old fashioned phone call! You can check out Facebook, Scott’s homepage, or (231) 884-0348.