Thursday, March 5, 2009

The artwork of Peter Aschwanden

Peter Aschwanden - October 4 1942 - December 3, 2005

You will recognize, immediately, Peter Aschwanden's name if you have a copy of John Muir's How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive: A Manual of Step-by-Step Procedures for the Compleat Idiot (see post about John and his book here). Peter and John met in New Mexico in 1968, at John's wedding. A little while later, John went to Peter when he was looking for someone to illustrate his then-unpublished book about fixing Volkswagen automobiles. Peter agreed and it started what would become a working relationship with John Muir Publications that would outlast John himself.

Here are some examples work beyond the Idiot Book...

As John Muir publications grew with various books, so did the extras that you could order from them. Each of the company's VW books came with an order page in the back to order copies of his books, cassette tapes of VW engine sounds, and, - now this is where is gets cool - t-shirts and posters featuring artwork from the book - Peter's artwork.

Below is an example of an order form:

The vintage order form.

Peter had taken some of the more iconic images from the books - like The Exploded Bug, and made posters and "shirtz". I was interested in trying to find these old posters and had very little luck on eBay.

Then, I stumbled on Flathead Graphix. Peter's widow, Deborah Reade, still has t-shirts and posters available through her relatively new site, (click here for the site). I recently worked with Deb to order a few poster and a few t-shirts. If you are interested, you can email her direct at [ reade (at) ](put that together for an email address!).

The shirts and posters are of high quality and I can't wait to try to make some frames for them and throw them up in the shop. EP said that, looking at them, she feels like she needs to have markers to color them in (they are black ink on white paper). It is a shame EP doesn't understand fine art...

Below is what I ordered. (Exploded Beetle and Cutaway City were pulled by Peter himself, back in the day). And the Exploded Bug t-shirt (which I ordered in blue and cream). Good stuff!

Cutaway City from The Velvet Monkey Wrench - 25 " x 34 "

Exploded Beetle from the VW Idiot book - 19" x 29"

Transaxel Dream from the VW Idiot book- 12" x 18"

My new, blue "Exploded Bug" shirt!


Ludwig's Drivers

Don't feel bad, EP. Several of the illustrations in my Idiot Book are hand-colored, in crayon no less.


I bought one the shirts, way back when, and the wore it until it was threadbare. I still have original posters as well as a postcard of a Westy that he drew.


I loved those books! Ahh... the good old days...

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