An artist’s passion

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I don’t care about hot rods or motorcycles. It’s just trucks man. I think they’re the coolest art movement going on.” –Roger Snider, truck photographer

It’s not every day that you find the craftsmanship of custom trucks appreciated by the art world – much less the young, hip, “Graffiti Art” style set.

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Yet at the Inked Souls 2009 “Art Whino” gallery show held this past weekend in Crystal City, VA, there they were – a collection of eye-popping photographs by the one and only Roger Snider of customized big rigs, given their due alongside oil paintings, sculptures, tattoos, and other forms of artistic expression.

“Being part of a show like this is great thing,” Snider told me. “This is the fourth gallery show I’ve done, and for the work I do with these trucks to be displayed alongside this kind of 21st century ‘post-post modern graffiti art’ is really something else.”

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I’ve talked about Snider and his work in this space before and I strongly suggest checking out his web site, Ultra Rigs of the World, to glimpse just some of the many types of custom trucks he’s photographed – not just here but from around the globe. (You can also click here to see which of his prints are for sale and for how much).

Snider also tries to create some unique compositions with his work, especially in terms of photographing trucks in more unique urban settings.

“I try to find a lot of urban settings for my photographs as the design of these trucks really complements modern architecture,” he explained to me. “Yet I also use a lot of rural settings as well – it really depends on the type of truck involved.

[I talked to Roger about some of these themes at the Art Whino exhibit. I apologize for the loud music; the party wasn’t about to stop on account of a video interview by the likes of me!]

Snider tries to approach the world of custom trucks from what he likes to describe as “an eight year-olds sensitivity,” trying to capture that level of excitement, passion, and wonder most kids feel when they see big rigs on the road. It’s an easy feeling for him to tap into, because he himself had those experiences in his childhood.

A native of Miami, Roger fell in love with trucks at a very young age after numerous road trips to the outskirts of Roanoke, Va., to visit family relatives in the late 1970s. He badgered his parents into taking him to the truck stop down the road every night so he could look at all the glistening steel and chrome for hours on end it seemed – cementing in his mind the desire to be one of those truck drivers when he grew up.

His other passion, photography, intervened – eventually leading him back to the world of trucking by a most circuitous route. His passion for trucks still burns brightly, and he’s planning a journey to the Pacific Northwest in June to capture images of many customized rigs this summer – many of which have never been displayed in show truck competitions.

[Snider talks more about what fuels his passion as a truck photographer below – and again, I apologize for the extremely loud music.]

What also continues to fascinate him about custom trucks is how many of them remain “working rigs” that their owners rely on to make a living.

“That’s one of the reasons I am trying to get the owners of the trucks themselves more involved in my photographs, because they are a critical part of the artistic story,” Snider told me. “These trucks look awesome, but they are also someone’s livelihood and home on the road. It also largely makes no economic sense for them to so this to their trucks – yet the result speaks for itself.”

[You can also read some of Roger's tales of the road and view some of his other work by clicking here.]

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As I’ve noted before, Snider’s gone to Japan and Europe to photograph custom rigs and still hopes to line up sponsors to allow him to travel to Australia and photograph the mighty road trains plying the Outback, as well as to Asia, Latin America, and who knows where else.

“My goal is to go all over the world, take pictures of all these different custom trucks, and put together the ultimate global coffee table book about them,” he said. He’s still plugging away in North America, too, with plans to visit four truck shows alongside other road trips aimed at unearthing other custom big rig owners that don’t ply the truck show circuit.

Needless to say, I’m eagerly awaiting the results from the journeys he’s planned for this year – and wish him much success with these endeavors.

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