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If I don’t feel it, I don’t paint it – Romana Hirschvogl

July 22, 2023 / By Richard Lindhorst
If I don’t feel it, I don’t paint it – Romana Hirschvogl

Many Porsche aficionados are already familiar with Austrian artist Romana Hirschvogl. She uses acrylic on canvas to paint cars customers’ request. Under the alias ohmydeer1401, she lets us in on how her mostly Porsche-related artworks are created. In a refreshingly honest interview, she told me, why she also consciously shows the failures and why Porsches remind her of women’s bodies.

Dear Romana Hirschvogl, welcome to Elferspot Porsche Talk! How did you get into painting in the first place? Because you have another job, don’t you?

Hello Richard, thank you! Yes, that’s right. I am a hair stylist, first and foremost. It’s my full-time job. Painting is my hobby. But I have always been creative. After school, I wanted to go to the “Höhere Graphische Bundes-Lehr- und Versuchsanstalt” in Vienna, one of the most renowned art colleges in Austria. For the entrance exam, I had to create a wide variety of works, from pencil drawings to acrylic and oil paints on canvas. But it was not quite enough at the time, unfortunately, not meant to be. So I had to learn everything self-taught.

When I furnished my first own apartment, I did not want to buy pictures and have unceremoniously painted some on my own. In the first place, I only painted naked torsos. I then shared the pictures on Facebook and received very nice feedback. Portraits were a red rag for me at that time. But at some point it clicked when I painted my “Aurelia”. A friend’s first reaction to the painting was to ask if I had had a stroke overnight. I hung in her ears forever before that I do not warm to portraits….

If it worked out with the portraits, why are you painting cars now?

I got into the world of quarter-mile drag racing through my boyfriend. In our environment, there are a lot of people with really rad cars. The togetherness at the track is great. The acceleration and braking with the parachute is also extreme. Just thinking about it makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up! At some point I just tried out to paint cars. I wanted to know if I could do it. And what can I say? I enjoyed it and was satisfied with the result.

With cars, I have a lot more options – in terms of craftsmanship and art – than with portraits. Paints, brushes, putty and co offer so much variety. Reflections in the paint or reflections on a rain-soaked road can greatly change the mood of a picture. Often I already see behind my eye how I want to represent things later on the canvas. But I also experiment more than I used to, I like to deviate from time to time. Meanwhile, I also like to paint cars in motion.

And the rest is history… But why did you end up more and more with Porsche?

It may sound a bit flippant, but Porsches simply go down well. Porsches are just beautiful! The shape always reminds me of a beautiful woman’s body. It is timeless, elegant and coherent. By the way, that’s why I really like touching cars and feeling the paint. What’s more, Porsche drivers are always very emotionally attached to their cars, which makes the stories behind them even more beautiful.

“Porsches are just beautiful! The shape always reminds me of a beautiful woman’s body.”

Romana Hirschvogl when asked why she increasingly paints Porsches.

How do you choose what to paint? Where does the inspiration come from?

First, I need a lot of really sharp photos. Different poses, different lighting conditions… To exaggerate, I don’t paint it if I can’t read the writing on the tires. It has to “click” in general. I need a mood, a story or a scene I can get into. I don’t like to do backgrounds, but if it’s really special, I’ll make exceptions.

However, money is not an argument and never my motivation. If I don’t feel it, I don’t paint it. It’s as simple as that. In the end, I only do what I really feel like doing. That’s why I also regularly turn down commissions. Unfortunately, some people don’t understand that and forget their good nature when I turn them down. But I will always remain true to myself.

“If I don’t feel it, I don’t paint it.”

Romana Hirschvogl

Inspiration has a lot to do with my mood. The more emotional I am myself, the better the painting goes. If I’m really pissed off, then I can transform this emotion well into creative work. I also like to listen to very melancholic music while painting. It sometimes happens that I listen to a song on a continuous loop for eight hours because it keeps me in the right mood for painting. Songs by Moby, for example, are more often in my playlist.

What would you like to paint? And what have been your highlights so far?

I would love to repaint a really great work. An old painting, like the Mona Lisa or The Last Supper. One of my personal highlights is certainly the painting for the Austrian rally driver Kris Rosenberger. That was not only about the car, but also about his dog. It was a beautiful story. The portraits of Ayrton Senna and Jacky Ickx were also very special to me.

Kris Rosenberger bekommt Bild von seinem Porsche mit seinem Hund davor von Romana Hirschvogl (ohmydeer1401)
Romana Hirschvogl handing over a painting for Austrian rally legend Kris Rosenberger.

But above it is probably still the picture of Walter Röhrl with his cat. I knew that he loves her divinely and therefore painted a portrait of him with the cat on his arm. He then received it as a surprise and later sent me a video message as a thank you. That was really a very emotional moment. I was also allowed to paint a car once. Giving the white Porsche 944 my own signature was also a very special story.

You strive for great things. At the same time, you like to be ironic or even cynical, but you also openly show your failures. How does that fit together?

Many people, especially in the artistic environment, take themselves a little too seriously in my eyes. I show myself on my account with all facets, just as I am. Failure is also part of that. In life, not everything is always “happy peppy”, as the Viennese like to say. In the end, it’s always about the emotion, the good as well as the bad.

And how do you feel when your pictures “go”? Surely a part of you goes every time.

I like to leave them for a bit and look at them. If they are free works, it also happens that I can’t hand them in. Sometimes there’s just too much of me in them. They are not just pictures. They are an expression of your soul life when you painted them. At the moment there are three paintings that I can’t let go. My Aurelia, for example. I even painted her a second time.

Because after I turned it in, someone told me it totally looked like Gottfried Helnwein. That’s an Austrian painter and my absolute idol. Aurelia looks at me and I have the feeling that she’s real! I wouldn’t give her back for any money in the world.

After a long hesitation, you are now showing more pictures and portraits of yourself. Why did you wait so long?

I didn’t want to show this side of me for a long time. To be honest, I was afraid of being labeled. I don’t want people to want my pictures because they think I’m hot. Instead, I want them to like my pictures because they appreciate my art.

But now I have thought that I do not show anything wicked or cheap. I do not go too far, but show something that I find beautiful. Especially since I also enjoy the shoots themselves. I can touch and feel the cars… That brings beautiful memories and emotions.

What other dreams do you have?

First of all, I’m grateful that painting has already given me so many opportunities to meet great people. It has been a door opener into a whole new world for me. How many people get a video message of thanks from a legend like Walter Röhrl?

If I could choose, I would like to meet Striezel Stuck. I drew him a picture and we talked on the phone from time to time. He tells such funny stories and seems to be a great character. I’m sure he has endless good stories to tell.

So which is your favorite Porsche?

The Porsche 964 Turbo would be my car if money was no object. This wide Bad Boys look is my thing. But I like Porsche 911 Backdates backdates and transaxles just as much. My first own Porsche will therefore probably be a 944. It has an independent design language and is not too big. I just like it.

Thanks a lot for your time, Romana!

Romana Hirschvogl has a mind of her own – in the most positive sense of the word. Her pictures speak from her soul. She likes to be ironic, thoughtful, sometimes funny, but always sincerely emotional. In the world of perfectly polished social media, Romana is a very pleasant antithesis.

Richard Lindhorst

© images: Mikes Vision, Stanislav Cekan, Andreas Pfabigan & Romana Hirschvogl

Meet our contributor

Richard Lindhorst is our chief-editor and lives in Northern Germany. He thinks about cars and bikes almost 24/7. If you’ve got a story for him, or just want to get in touch, feel free to contact him on his Instagram (@rchrdlndhrst).

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