Jake Shelton is an artist that is regularly commissioned by celebrities and big studios to construct art from misshapen metal. He is the man responsible for the “Tornado” sculpture which was featured prominently in the movie Iron Man 3, as well as the “Drag Strip Jesus” sculpture used by NBC’s “Revolution” television series. A musician, artist, and serial entrepreneur, he’s got more ideas where those came from.

HOW DID THE IRON MAN STATUE COME ABOUT?

I got a call from one of the art directors, they asked me to build the sculpture, they had an idea of what they wanted. They had all the car parts from Iron Man 2 where they crashed the cars up in Monaco, and so they said we’d like to ship these to you and have you build a sculpture for Iron Man 3 for Tony Starks studio.

They thought I was in Phoenix at the time, and when they found out I was in Wilmington, about five miles from your studios, it became very convenient. They shipped over the palates, and I spread everything out on the floor and put it together for them.

WHAT WAS YOUR CONCEPT FOR THE PIECE?

They took me over to the set, and on the old studio set the stairs where Pepper would come down, they were straight. The new stairs had a curve to them, so my concept was to do a Tornado of the crashed car parts that went up, in contrast to the stairs coming down. It flowed together really well.

IT DID.

I’m pretty happy with it.

HOW DID YOU FEEL WHEN YOU WERE WATCHING THE MOVIE AND YOU SAW YOUR SCULPTURE?

Concept sketch for the Iron Man 3 Car Crash Sculpture

Concept sketch for the Iron Man 3 Car Crash Sculpture

Awesome.

DID YOU JUMP UP AND YELL “I DID THAT!’

No, but I was with five friends who stood up and did that for me.

THEN EVERYONE IN THE THEATER SAID “SHHH!” SIT DOWN

Basically

HOW DID YOU GET STARTED WITH THE CAR SCULPTURES?

My Dad was obsessed with old cars, so I grew up around it. His dream was to have a junkyard, and instead he ended up doing deep sea dive research at Duke University. He had the world’s record for depth and invented a bunch of crazy dive equipment. I was always at home with all the old cars and all the old junk, so naturally I was always doing something with it.

WHEN DID YOU FIRST RECOGNIZE THIS COULD BE ART INSTEAD OF SOMETHING YOU PUT TOGETHER TO CLUNK AROUND IN?

I’ve been an entrepreneur all my life. I had a vintage music shop in Baltimore, MD, Then I started painting motorcycles. I worked in a bodyshop briefly, then opened my own custom body shop. I had friends that were opening a restaurant, I built pieces for that, then I built my own restaurant called “Fireballs” in Richmond VA, and had all my art there. People started buying it.

After 9/11 I shut it down (I was really close the Federal Reserve Bldg.), and moved out west to do the art full time. So it was a blessing in disguise for me.

Cadillac Couch for Snoop Lion by Jake Shelton

Cadillac Couch for Snoop Lion by Jake Shelton

HOW DID YOU GO FROM THAT TO GETTING CELEBRITIES LIKE SNOOP LION TO BUY YOUR STUFF?

I was in the Tempe Scottsdale Area, I placed myself very well in an area when I had no money. I said. Ok, I need this 3000 square foot real estate on a prime corner in Tempe, and I made it happen. I just started building, and I got attention from my online presence as well as people coming by. I had a few high profile clients by that time.

GIVEN YOUR BACKGROUND AS AN AUTO ENTHUSIAST, IS THERE A PART OF YOU THAT LOOKS AT THE SCULPTURES, AND SAYS. WOW, WHAT A SHAME, THAT WAS A LAMBORGHINI?

Everything I made from is crashed junk. I won’t ever cut something up that can go back out on the road. if it’s restorable, I won’t cut it. For example, the stuff that I did for the Royal Caribbean ship. The parts had been totally eaten up by rust, I actually had to refabricate all of that. So the before pictures are horrific. So no, I never feel bad. I’m repurposing something that has a really cool shape and giving it new life. Otherwise it would just rust away or rot in a junkyard and be crushed.

I LOVE CARS TOO, AND A PART OF ME SAYS “WHY” WHEN YOU SEE ALL THE CAR DESTRUCTION ON MOVIE SETS.

That gets me too. You know “Dukes of Hazzard?” There’s a guy out in California who has almost all those crashed cars. They’re impossible to find parts for because of that show. I don’t know how many they smashed but it must have been several hundred.

Two Pieces of Burniture by Jake Shelton - in Private Collection

Two Pieces of Burniture by Jake Shelton – in Private Collection

SO ARE YOU COMPLETELY BASED IN WILMINGTON NOW?

No I still have the shop in Phoenix, but I stay in Wilmington most of the time.

WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON NOW?

I have another Lamborghini bed that I’m doing. It’s full-bodied, and it’s going to Beijing. I’ve also got a set of ‘64 Buick Riviera couches where I’ve got the front end and the back end. You can sit in both with a coffee table between them. There’s a heavy metal band called “Gwar,” it’s for the drummer Brad and his wife Nicole.

YOU SHOULD COME TO AUSTIN – YOU’D FIT RIGHT IN HERE. WE LOVE CARS AND MUSIC TOO.

I would! It’s funny, years ago I was working with Fender music, setting a bunch of stuff up for their 60th anniversary. I was sitting on this couch next to a guy and I said “Wow you look familiar.” and he said “Yeah, so do you.” Turns out I’d hung out with him years ago when he was touring, he was about 17 or 18. It was Charlie Sexton! I ended up losing his phone number, but I had just found him a ‘53 Cadillac bumper.

DO YOU KNOW ABOUT MERCURY CHARLIE HERE IN AUSTIN?

I am very familiar with Mercury Charlie. I have several Mercury Charlie shirts, I’ve worn them out. The one that I have right now is beyond repair.

SO I HAVE TO ASK, ARE YOU A MUSICIAN TOO?

Yes. The stuff that I’m doing now is instrumental surf. It’s punk and jazz with a heavy Latin overtone. I was in a band out in Arizona called Acapulco 5-0 and we were a 14-piece. We did ‘50s Mexican go-go music.

WHERE ARE YOU GOING FROM HERE?

I’m thinking of expanding this quite a bit. I have a friend who might be buying a marina in Florida. It’s abandoned right now, but I’m hoping to go down and build a huge Tiki bar, and deck it out with all my furniture. If I play the deal right, there’s about a 60 ft. yacht that I’d like to re-do in my style. I found Jackie Gleason’s old yacht, it’s a Tiffany, and I wanted to do that up with a low-rider paint job on the deck, and mount a 67 corvette couch on the bow.
It’s never used, it’s like a big blank canvas. Inside, I want to gut out the staterooms, and then I have the front of the car that I made Snoop’s couch out of and make a big King size bed. So when you walk down the stairs, there’s this big cadillac bed. Everything down there would be decked out and decadent, hot rod low-rider style.

THEN WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH IT?

I’d take my girl out in it!

Drag-Strip-Jesus-by-Jake-Shelton-sculpture-for-NBC-television-series-REVOLUTION-now-in-Private-Collection

Drag-Strip-Jesus-by-Jake-Shelton-sculpture-for-NBC-television-series-REVOLUTION-now-in-Private-Collection

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