Design Studio Press: Joyride / Flatout by Dan Quarnstrom

Joyride/Flatout: Hot Rods and Dream Machines is a tribute to out-of-this-world automobiles that took America by storm in the 1960s.  Author and designer Dan Quarnstrom, whose love of hot rod culture, and those who were a part of it, is as fresh and contagious as it was more than 50 years ago, when he was a young boy attending his first hot rod show. From thumbnail sketches to finished drawings, Post-it squiggles to thorough model breakdowns, Joyride/Flatout is a testament to what can happen when you hold onto your enthusiasm and infuse it into everything you create.

Dan Quarnstrom explains how the book came to be, why hot rods, and how passions from your childhood can last a lifetime.

Applying Professional Standards to Adolescent Ideas

I have loved hot rods since I was a kid and drew them often. For whatever reason I started drawing hot rods again about 15 years ago when I was on the phone or had a few minutes to burn. This went on for a while before I realized that now, as and adult and professional designer, I could go back and draw them the way I had wished I could when I was a kid, but didn’t yet have the skill set to do so. In the book I call this “Applying Professional Standards to Adolescent Ideas.”

Eventually I created 100 pieces of hot rod art for a 2002 show called “Joyride” at Metro Gallery in Pasadena, California, and had as much fun working as I’ve ever had, which led me to writing Joyride/Flatout.


Hot rods

As a designer for 3D animation, advertising and film, my responsibilities are to support the story, layout, the shot, the product—essentially the ideas your client or director is trying to convey. You work with a team to support a collective idea. My hot rods are a relic from my youth when drawing was a mystery and a challenge. Hot rods have always been characters to me as viable as wild horses. They were difficult to draw, but when they turned out better than I expected it was pure joy, hence, the title of the book. Hot rods are really just a detour back to a time when I drew for the sheer fun of it unencumbered by any expectations other than my own.


Curiosity, discovery, and creativity are within the reach of just about everyone regardless of culture or social standing. Opportunities to participate in creative endeavors can arise from an array of sources, books, music, film, animation, games or nature. My particular path to a career and creative life followed a path of unlikely enthusiasm. The book is a document of that path, available to anyone, as true today as it was 50 years ago.


I got to enjoy a career in design for animation, film, visual effects, rock and roll, and editorial illustration based on the enthusiasms I developed as a child. I don’t think my story is singular. The visual arts and music are two sides of the same coin and great places for any kid to find direction and self-worth. I believe that if you build upon your enthusiasms you can find a path to your goals.

Joyride/Flatout: Hot Rods and Dream Machines is available now in hardcover at US$34.95. A full preview of the book can be found at Design Studio Press.

Joyride/Flatout: Hot Rods and Dream Machines
Format: hardcover, signed hardcover
Pages: 144 pages
Size: 11 x 9 inches
ISBN: 978-1-93349-271-1

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About the author

Daniel is the Industry Manager for ArtStation.