With dozens of designs to his name, half of which have been resurrected as resto-mods, engineer and blipshift veteran Anthony McClinton is no stranger. A Subie guy through-and-through, Anthony enjoys anything that can indulge his outdoor pursuits, which include mountain biking and hiking. Some of his more popular designs include "T Power", "Be Afraid", and "No Equal".
Anthony took a moment to answer a few questions:
How did your interest in cars start?
A big part of my interest in cars can be attributed to my dad. He had a red 1995 Mustang GT with the 5.0 when I was growing up. I still remember helping him put on the license plate at the dealership when he picked it up. Some of my favorite memories were when I was able to ride with him in that Mustang. My dad also had a small collection of Ferrari models that I always loved to look at. I remember eyeing the F40 and the F50 models the most.
Another big factor to getting me hooked on cars was that my family always watched Formula 1 when I was growing up. At the time, we were living in Germany, and Michael Schumacher was winning basically everything, so as a German we had to watch! Every race day, there would be Ferrari flags hanging on almost every house in the neighborhood. It was a great family activity to do on a Sunday afternoon that I still remember fondly.
As a kid I also remember having a knack for remembering car specs, something that still holds true today. I don’t know why, but I could tell you the engine type and power of almost any supercar at the time. I remember having a book that I got at a school book fair that had all of the supercars in it, and I'd pour through it over and over again and memorizing all of the facts.
What is at the top of your automotive bucket list?
I've had the opportunity to check a bunch of things off already, but I definitely want to make it to France one day to watch the 24 hours of LeMans. If I go see one big motorsport event, it would have to be that one.
What's in your driveway, and what makes them special?
I currently have three cars, all with a very different purpose. I have a 2014 Subaru WRX hatch that I lifted to turn it into a little daily-able rally car/overland vehicle that I dubbed the Crosstrek WRX: ground clearance of a Crosstrek, with the performance of a WRX. I also have a 2016 Mazda Miata that I picked up in 2019 that I absolutely love, and I recently I took delivery of a 2021 Ford Bronco. 2 door with the 7-speed manual!
2014 Subaru WRX – @crosstrekWRX
I bought this car new in 2014 after graduating college and landing my first engineering job. I was originally going to wait and buy a 2015 WRX, but once I found out they were dropping the hatchback, I knew I had to find a 2014. Luckily, I was able to find one in the exact spec I wanted: World Rally Blue with premium package.Like a lot of people, I originally wanted to lower it and make it into a canyon-carver, but I learned pretty quickly that it didn’t align with my outdoor hobbies. The WRX is already pretty low from the factory, so I decided to lift it instead and put it on all-terrain tires, which was the best decision ever! It really unlocked the rally car inside, and I can say it is a huge blast to hustle it around the Forest Service roads of Flagstaff!
Lifting it also opened up some many more potential adventure locations. In 2019, feeling inspired by all the rigs from Overland Expo, I decided to buy a rooftop tent and design and build a trail kitchen for the trunk of the WRX! To my knowledge, I’m really one of the only people to do this to a WRX. It worked out and made the 'Rex into a great weekend adventure vehicle. I actually took my WRX on a huge road trip with this setup back in 2019!
2016 Mazda MX-5 – @Miata_Adventures
I’ll preface this with that I never understood the appeal of the Miata for the longest time. That was until I test drove an ND in 2016 and finally understood it! Lightweight and agile is the way to go! It was the most fun I’ve ever had in a car period. It was then that I decided I need to buy one. Fast forward a couple of years to 2019, and I found a used 2016 Miata with the Brembo and BBS package and just 3500 miles on the clock. I bought it and I have never once regretted that decision. Whether it be on the road, or the racetrack, the Miata is the most fun car that I have ever owned. Mine is modified for the occasional track day and has a bunch of Flyin’ Miata parts installed, but it’s still mostly a street car. It also has the best license plate out there.
2021 Ford Bronco – @ThatRedBroncoDude
This is my newest addition to the stable (pun intended). Back in 2020 when Ford announced the Bronco, it just ticked so many boxes for me, and I knew I wanted one and put my name down for a reservation. I was starting to get to the limits of what I could do with the Subaru off road and was looking for a dedicated offroader. In March of 2022, I was able to finally pick it up and I’ve been enjoying the experience so far! Off roading is a whole different kind of motorsports fun compared to rally or track driving, and I found that I really like it. The Bronco is eventually going to get modified to tackle the adventures that the Subaru can’t, but for now I’m just enjoying it as is.
What was your first car? Do you have any sort of brand loyalty?
My first car was a 1993 Ford Explorer which I bought for $800 when I was in high school. After that I made the Subaru jump. I had a red 2010 Impreza Hatchback which I had for 2 years. I absolutely loved that car, but I always wished it had a manual and a 100 extra horsepower. Lucky for me Subaru makes just that car. When I graduated college, I bought myself a World Rally Blue WRX Hatchback and I have had it ever since.
If you couldn’t tell already, I’m a big Subaru fanboy. I swear half my closet is Subaru shirts at this point. I’ve always loved Subarus, and the WRX is by far on the best cars out there if you are looking for something that can do it all. Snow, sunshine, asphalt, off road, etc. My WRX has done it all.
What is your dream car?
I would love to own a 911 GT3. That has always been one of my favorite cars especially the 997.2 GT3 RS.
What's your favorite thing you've ever done with a car?
I have gone a lot of car adventures over the years, many courtesy of blipshift! My favorite was what I dubbed my #Roadtrip2RallySchool. Back in 2019 there was a design contest with DirtFish Rally School, and the prize was a 1-day rally course up in Washington. Being a big Subaru fan, I wanted to win this contest more than of the other. Going to DirtFish was always one of my dreams. To my amazement, my "Frequent Flier" design wound up winning!
Instead of flying, I decided I would road trip my Subaru up there instead. I always wanted to do a big road trip like that, and thought that this was the right time to do it. So I bought a rooftop tent for my WRX and outfitted it with a custom designed and built trail kitchen before driving all the way from Arizona to Washington and then Canada (Whistler baby!) before going back to Arizona. I did a bunch of hikes along the way and stopped at a bunch of really neat locations. The west coast of the US has so many amazing locations, and I was able to see some of the best ones: Crater Lake, Multnomah Falls, Mammoth, etc.
The highlight for me was of course going to DirtFish and participating in their 1-day rally course. That was the most fun I’ve ever had in a car, and I learned so many skills from that one day that I still use all the time. I definitely want to go back to DirtFish one day and take part in their 3-day course.
What are some of your non-car hobbies?
One of my big hobbies is Lego. I’ve played with it my entire life, and it's something that I’ve taken into adulthood with me. I really love the Technic sets; the ones with all of the cool functions like working engines and motorized mechanics. Admittedly, Lego Technic is still very closely related to cars as almost every single one of my sets is a vehicle. My favorites are – and this should be no surprise – the 1:8 scale supercars that they’ve done over the last couple of years: the Porsche 991 GT3 RS, Bugatti Chiron, the Lamborghini Sian, and the my most recent acquisition, the Ferrari Daytona SP3.
I also really love mountain biking. Flagstaff is a pretty fantastic place as we have miles and miles of some of the best trails in the world. One of my favorite places that I’ve biked probably has to be in Sölden, Austria. The bike trails there are amazing and much different than what I’m used to in the Southwest. I generally also really like to go backpacking, hiking, and just being outdoors.
What have the funds from blipshift helped you accomplish?
I’ve gone to races numerous times (blipshift even gave me the chance to meet the Turner Motorsports Team). I’ve gone to COTA to see V8 Supercars and WEC. I’ve also used my blipshift earnings to buy car parts and turn my WRX into a little adventure mobile.
How did you get into Graphic Design?
I actually never planned on getting into graphic design. I just happened to take a graphic design class in high school that taught us how to use Photoshop and Illustrator, but never used it much after I graduated. I only picked it up again when I learned about blipshift. I read an article on Jalopnik about this new company selling car themed shirts and that all the designs were sourced from the community. I thought it would be fun to give it a try and see if I can create a design.
I had just finished watching series 19 of Top Gear where Jeremy had reviewed the BRZ and 86 twins and I remember his quote: “He who shall be last, shall be sideways and smiling.” I thought that it could make a fun design so I opened up Illustrator again and I tried putting something together. In the end, it worked out and my "Jezza 19:3" submission was accepted! I found that I really enjoyed creating designs and started doing more and more of them. Almost 10 years later, I’m still at it. I taught myself a lot of the tricks to using Illustrator over the years and with most new designs I try to do something that is a little new and a little outside of my comfort zone. I try to evolve my art style and get better with every design. As with most things, the only way to improve is through practice. Looking back through all my designs, it has been really nice to see the evolution of my style over the years and how I’ve improved over time!
What are you influenced by as a designer?
As with most designers, I’m influenced by everything around me. Sometimes when I’m out with friends I’m inspired by the dumb car puns that we come up with. I’ve also just been watching TV and my brain just goes, "that would make a great shirt". For me the smallest things can get the creative juices flowing.
You’ve done over 100 designs now, which are your favorites?
Wow, that many huh? I do have a few designs that sit on my personal favorite list. Some I love because they remind me of a cool story, and others I like because I really like the final visual!
One of my faves has to be "Cheers Mate". I remember seeing Daniel Ricciardo’s Shoey podium celebrations and thought it could be turned into a fun design, especially since he drove for Red Bull at the time. I didn’t think the design was going to be as popular as it was, but to date, this is still one of my best-selling single designs! It was also wild going to the 2017 F1 race in Austin and seeing my shirt everywhere. I even managed to snag Danny Ric’s autograph. I told him that I designed that shirt and he replied, “That’s awesome mate! I love it!” To me, that was just the coolest thing ever. That really made my day!
The next design on the list is a very recent design that I was able to do in collaboration with blipshift and Subaru of America. They reached out to me to see if I wanted to design the 2022 Subaru Events giveaway shirt, and being a big Subaru fan, I was super excited about the opportunity! The design was Travis’ 2022 Gymkhana car, the “GL Family Huckster”. This design took a lot of time to create, but I’m so happy with how it turned out. I think out of all the designs I did, I probably spent the most time on this one and applied everything I had learned over the past decade of doing shirt designs. The reason I like this one so much is that I’m a huge Travis Pastrana fan. To me, he really is a role model in both motorsports and how he lives his life and interacts with everyone. He is one of my idols. I had the opportunity to meet him last year at the Nitro RallyX Event in Phoenix and he is such a great guy! To be able to design a shirt with his car on it that he is wearing at the Subaru Events this year is just amazing. I can’t describe how amazing that feels!
Any advice for fellow artists? How did you find the process overall?
Keep at it. Most of my designs go through a bunch of iterations before I even submit them, and then go through even more iterations before they go on sale. Rarely is the first version of a design going to be your last. It will change and get better. My "Fun Da M3ntal" design looked much different when I started. Originally it was an E92 M3 and then it turned into the E30. Before the shirt went on sale, the blipshift designers were creating the website images for the sale and realized the design worked much better when it was cropped, so it was changed. I think because of that change, that has been one of my best selling designs. No matter what, just keep at it and eventually, you will make an awesome design.
Thanks for your time and support Anthony. You can probably find more of his designs for sale next week at blipshift.