The Atmospheric Automotive Illustration of John Killmaster

James Kraus

JK - 1 (7)

1960 Ford Starliner in Corinthian White at Manganese Falls, Copper Harbor Michigan.

A resident artist at LaDriere Studios in Detroit from 1953 through 1963, John Killmaster’s mature style corresponds aptly with the Jet Age aesthetic of Auto Universum.

John often created entire pieces, but his forte was producing lush, painterly backgrounds that flatteringly framed the selected automobiles. 

1960 Ford Starliner in Corinthian White over Orchid Gray.

By the time John joined LaDriere as an illustrator, the firm had already amassed a three-decade history of providing advertising and catalogue art to American auto manufacturers. He would prove a valuable asset to the firm, his decade of captivating imagery further burnishing their reputation.

1961 Ford Galaxie 500 in Algiers Bronze in downtown Detroit with Cobo Hall visible on the right. Ford rendered by Ross Cousins, background by John Killmaster. Jim Secreto collection.

In 1963, Killmaster retired from LaDriere and the automotive world to study painting and printmaking at Hope College. Continuing his studies, he attained an MFA from the Cranbrook Academy of Art and begin a new career as a Professor of Art at Boise State University.


1961 Buick Electra 225 in Newport Silver.

His postgraduate work has been exhibited worldwide and is featured in a number of private collections.

1962 Oldsmobile F-85 in Cameo Cream.

These six pieces were selected from his final years at LaDriere Studios and represent the pinnacle of his automotive portfolio.

1962 Dodge Darts in Polar White and Light Green at Moon River; Perry Sound, Ontario.