BEACON FALLS — From Archie Comics to classic cars, one Beacon Falls resident has drawn it all.
Joseph Pepitone has been interested in cars since he was a young boy.
“There was a television show called Eliot Ness and the Untouchables on about 1959. There were these old gangster cars, and I always loved seeing these cars. That stayed with me,” Pepitone said.
He received pictures of old automobiles for Christmas as a boy, which only fueled his love of them. He sees a car not just as an automobile, but as a representation of its era.
“The automobile is like a museum on four wheels. If you look at a 1939 Chevy you can see what was popular in color, in interior choices, in design, and in technology,” Pepitone said.
As he got older, cars remained his passion, but were not his source of income.
“Back in the 80s I sold typography in Manhattan,” Pepitone said.
He said that business was going great and he soon opened an office in New Canaan. However, as technology increased, his business was in jeopardy.
“Business was great until Apple perfected its graphics. Then my customers became my competitors,” Pepitone said.
Seeing that the landscape of his business was rapidly changing, Pepitone went back to school for visual arts in 1988.
In 1989 a friend offered him a job at Archie Comics, where he became the art director. That job would bring him back to his childhood love for automobiles.
“When I was an art director for Archie Comics, we were in Mamaroneck, N.Y. There were all these auto body shops I walked by,” Pepitone said.
An owner of one of the auto body shops asked Pepitone if he could draw cars.
“So I did the first one and the rest is history,” Pepitone said.
During his 20-year career at Archie Comics, Pepitone began to do more and more car drawings.
“Months passed by and word of mouth started happening and jobs came in. Before you know it, I’m drawing cars,” Pepitone said.
With momentum building behind his automobile drawings, Pepitone decided to resign from Archie Comics and begin his own business.
“It was like jumping off the Q Bridge into water,” said Pepitone about taking the leap into his own business.
He drew logos for businesses, posters for events, and, of course, automobiles. It was the automobile drawings that got him the most notice.
Since starting his own business, Pepitone has had his work displayed in Hemmings Motor News, a monthly magazine that specializes in antique, classic, and exotic sports cars.
“It’s one of a these things where there are a ton of talented automotive artists, but only a few can say they were in Hemmings,” Pepitone said. “Tell someone you were in Hemmings magazine, and it’s like saying you went to Harvard.”
This week he will have a new honored bestowed on his work — his drawings will be on display in the Antique Automobile Club of America Museum in Hershey, Penn.
“It’s like the New York Yankees asking you to play baseball for them in the car world,” Pepitone said.
Pepitone donated five pieces to the museum, which will be displayed from Monday through Wednesday and auctioned off.
“I have no clue what to expect at this museum,” Pepitone said. “I’ve never had work shown in a gallery, so this is exciting.”
While this is a big step in his career, he is trying to take it all in stride.
“I’m looking forward to it, but I’m going to take each minute as it comes because I don’t know what to expect,” Pepitone said.
Throughout all his success, Pepitone has not forgotten about the community he lives in. He has designed signs for local organizations including the Beacon Falls Park Pals and Laurel Ledge School.
“These are things that I have to make room for in my schedule of paid work. To me, though, it makes a better community,” Pepitone said.
While in Hershey, he does have one goal.
“I hope to inspire kids to follow their dream. It may not be overnight, it’s taken me 30 years,” Pepitone said.