Fine Art that Hauls

Joel Nelson's Power Wagon

Illustrator Joel Nelson certainly had one of the more unusual artistic inspirations you’ll hear of: Bo and Luke Duke.


“It all started out with a Dodge project,” Nelson says. “I grew up watching the Dukes of Hazzard and drawing the General Lee jumping — when I was a kid it was everything, and that Charger has always been a favorite of mine.” His other main early inspiration was Simon & Simon’s Power Wagon. “Simon’s truck, with that bumper and black wheels, had such a tough image. That’s why I like it. To me, the Dodge Ram has always been a stronger truck.”


Now the Phoenix resident — who studied art and video game design at Collins College and has owned both a ’99 Dodge Ram quad cab and a ‘65 Dodge Coronet — has had done work for local auto shops like Lowboy Motorsports, Drew Brothers Customs, and AJ’s Customs, and he’s working on designs for auto magazines. Usually Nelson starts off his designs with a sketch that then gets refined in Photoshop. “It’s all done by hand. I don’t take a picture and photoshop in wheels — I use traditional markers and airbursh and pastels.”


Nelson’s favorite part of the creative process? “Establishing the stance the ride height,” he says. Although Nelson has branched out to depict all types of car and truck that catch his eye, he admits that he finds himself drawn back to the power of Rams, as shown in a favorite recent work he did featuring an orange 2009 truck. “It’s the power it conveys. That’s why I like it. I’m just trying to push what vehicle renderings can be.” (To see more of Nelson’s art, go to

  • I have heard of Nelson also known in the Rod Graphics Circuit as “Nelz” and it’s great to see some of his first rate work. It’s guys like Nelz who keep me stoked about rodding and racing!

    Thanks for a fine article on this talented artist.


    • My first ram was a 1999 Dodge ram 2500 with the cummins turbo diseel, extended cab and 8 ft. box. I put a cold air intake in it and a hypertech power programer. But now i own a 2001 dodge ram 2500 cummins turbo diseel with the extended cab and 6 ft. box. This truck has 110 hp. injectors, airdog lift pump and stacked chips, and a cold air intake. It has a 4 1/2 in. downpipe into 5 inch then into two 5 inch stacks.

  • Mark


  • mark broderick

    Awesome !!! An updated version of the MACHO packaged offerwed from 1977-80 … Totally cool … Build it !!!