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Life & Work with Kelly Telfer of WWT Raceway

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kelly Telfer.

Hi Kelly, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstories.
My name is Kelly Telfer and I am an artist specializing in Motorsports original paintings, posters, and fine art prints. I have always drawn and painted cars- from an early age. I have always loved drawing cars and racing cars. My brother and I started a race team in California in our teens, and I drew and printed our race team t-shirts. Soon, I was drawing, designing, and printing t-shirts for other race teams. That branched out to a full-fledged Motorsports T-shirt business. I created art and T-shirts for race teams, drivers, sponsors, and events all over the country. We ended up being one of the largest Motorsports printers in the country. After 25 years, I sold that business, and for the first time in my life, I went to work for a company. I started as a PowerPoint artist at Siemens, and 10 years later, I became global director for one of their eight business divisions. At that point, I decided to jump full-time into my first love: creating original art, posters, and fine art prints for motorsports collectors and events. My company, Telfer Design, Inc., displayed my artwork at the Performance Racing Tradeshow in Indianapolis last December 2021. Chris Blair, the Executive Vice President & General Manager for WWT Raceway, approached me to create the original painting for WWT Raceway to promote the Inaugural NASCAR Cup Race, to be held on June 5, 2022. Of course, I said yes, and I consider this quite an honor!

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
That’s a great question! I have learned a lot on the road to success in my fine art career. Some are related to art and come to life.

My Five Guiding Passions:
1). Perfect your design composition, color, and technique. There are a few ways to do this: art in school, or on your own, study the great ‘Masters,’ ‘Impressionists’ and ‘Pop Artists’ (or any extraordinarily successful artist or art style you appreciate.) And when it comes to technique, I tried and learned many ways to create art; oil painting, pastels, color pencil, acrylics, and more.

2). Fail your way to success. I learned a fundamental fact in art, sales, and business. Every failure is a step towards success; eventually, you will achieve your goal, and you are closer to success every time you fail. So, I learned to fail, learn from it, and move on quickly. I look back just a little- to learn from it and then look forward to my next goal or opportunity.

3). Don’t quit! It’s easy to give up or listen to all your friends (or parents, or spouse, etc.) say, “you’re crazy to be an artist.” I say, “You are crazy NOT to be an artist.” It’s not an easy road. However, it is exciting and eventually rewarding!

4). Mentor. I believe it’s better to give than to get. I mentor artists and other people often. I share secrets, suppliers, and what has worked (and what hasn’t) for me. Mentoring is one of the most important parts of my job!

5) Be humble and mindful. This one has taken me some work; however, I am incredibly grateful to be a successful full-time artist. I appreciate it and the opportunity that I have every day!

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I specialize in Motorsports artwork. My paintings are featured in museums and retail stores. I am one of the top-selling artists at the Petersen Automobile Museum in Los Angeles, CA, and at LeMay- America’s Car Museum in Tacoma, WA. I also specialize in Race Track and Race Team art; in addition to being the official artist for the WWT Raceway NASCAR race in June 2022, I am the official artist for The Porsche Club of America Porsche Parade (2021-2022). The Porsche Club of America Werks Reunion Monterey & Amelia (2019-2022), the IMSA and Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, CA, and Hyundai Motorsports (2021). I am most proud about selling my Mario Andretti original painting (in a team with Bill Warner and RM Sotheby’s) for $138,000 in March 2022 at Amelia Island Concours, with all proceeds to charity. I was especially excited to be asked by WWT Raceway to paint ‘live’ at their NASCAR race and paint the winner in Victory Lane. Joey Logano won the race, and it was a blast to paint his car!

What matters most to you?
What matters most to me is mentoring and helping other artists. Some artists are very protective of what they do, how they do it, what they charge, etc. I don’t believe in being secretive about artists that I am mentoring. I think as all artists do better, we all do better. Some asked me, aren’t you worried about someone copying your artwork? My reply is: ” You can only copy what I have done, not what I’m going to do!”.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Photo: Michaela Franke

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