Carson combines love of art and cars

By Anthony Welch

Haven Carson lives to create.

The 76-year-old, who’s worked as a commercial artist, commercial photographer and architectural illustrator, thrives on all things art.

“I sculpt, I do leatherwork, jewelry, furniture … you name it,” he said.

He and his wife Mary have no need to purchase decorations for their Briargate home, as Haven’s paintings, sculptures and other creations decorate the walls and tables. The living room itself is a small art museum of sorts.

Along with art, Haven has a passion for cars. Growing up in Michigan, he attended the College of Creative Studies after high school and learned how to be an automobile designer. He went on to work for General Motors.

“They stuck me on hubcaps and door handles,” he said.

That wasn’t exactly what Haven had in mind for a career, so he moved to California and enrolled in the Brooks Institute. There, he studied commercial photography. He worked as a commercial photographer in Los Angeles, before moving to London, England, where he worked for advertising agencies as a freelancer for four years.

“The art directors would give you an impossible task, but you had to do it,” he added.

When he returned to the U.S., Haven decided to hitch hike around the U.S. He ventured around 48 states in 10 months.

“That was dangerous stuff,” he said. “After 10 months, I said, ‘Hell with this.’ I landed in San Francisco, got a job at a color lab and taught at an academy of art.”

Haven’s adventures then led him to Park City, Utah, where he got a job with a guy who was an architectural illustrator and created detailed, artist renderings of homes and buildings.

“One day, the guy quit and walked out. He never came back. I said to myself, ‘I’m either unemployed or I’m the new boss,’ so I decided I was going to be the new boss. One thing led to another, I had every job in Park City – all the ski resorts, all the condo projects, all the restaurants, anything that needed a commercial photographer or commercial artist. It was great.

“For four years, I skied my ass off, I had fun, married, had a child. Moved back down to Orange County, divorced, picked up another job as an illustrator. I found my own clients and kept my business going for another 25 years as an illustrator.”

Haven discovered another art outlet that would lead to a stream of income – designing maquettes for corporations. A maquette is a scale model or rough draft of an unfinished sculpture. Corporations would pay for Haven’s designs and have 20-foot, abstract sculptures built and placed in front of their buildings.

Maquettes can be found around Haven’s home and in his small art studio behind the house. The studio echoes just what Haven is about. Model airplanes hang from the ceiling in deliberate angles, precisely-cut pieces of leather for a purse he’s making for his wife sit on one table and model cars of his favorite exotic automobiles sit about his desk.

“I can’t afford the real cars, so I build models,” he said.

While living in Orange County, California, Haven attended “Coffee and Car” gatherings on Saturday mornings, where owners of rare and exotic cars would gather for a few hours and show off their rides.

“Five hundred cars would show up for two hours,” Haven added. “I got to know people and they hired me to shoot photos of their cars.”

That’s been Haven’s side business for the past dozen years. He shoots photos of cars, touches up the photo in Photoshop and adds snazzy backgrounds. But Haven doesn’t shoot just any car.

“Cars are in my blood. Nice cars. Rare cars. Exotic cars,” he said. “I don’t give a (expletive) about Mustangs, I could care less about Camaros and pickup trucks do nothing for me. Give me 250 Ferrari GT or a Bugatti or a Porsche.”

Since moving to Colorado Springs three years ago, Haven discovered there weren’t as many rare and exotic cars in town to shoot. He still photographs cars when he can, but has also been asked to shoot private jets and planes for clients as well.

Getting back to that art studio in the backyard, it’s Haven’s home away from home.

“It basically says who I am. I have hobbies. Whatever I feel like doing, I do it because I have the rest of my life to live here. I can’t just sit and do nothing,” he said. “I’m 76 years old. I don’t feel it. I just can’t sit still. I have to be doing something or creating something.”

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