When Dave Kindig talks about depth, the movement of lines and the effect a design can have on a car, he sounds as if he has trained at one of the more prestigious art schools.

But Kindig, owner of Kindig-it Design in Salt Lake City, is a self-made man. He didn't go to a fancy art school. He didn't even go to college. But his love for cars and drawing has helped him build a prosperous custom automotive design business.

As a child, no one ever told Kindig that he could fail, so he just continued to try and learned as he went along.

Now, at 29, he owns his own business, a business that he has fun at every day.

"I haven't called in sick once since I've started this business," Kindig said with a laugh.

Of course most business owners don't have to call in sick to work, but most aren't there every day toiling with the others who work for them, either.

But Kindig is. And it is his attitude that helps the others who work for him enjoy their jobs as well.

"I've never had a guy call in sick either. Everybody is tightly knit. We have a lot of fun here," Kindig said.

Kindig-it Design is one of Salt Lake's few custom automotive design shops, and it's unique in the services it provides. Kindig has taken several aspects of the auto body and design business and combined them into one business.

He's not into collision repair like many of the other shops, although he could make more money in the collision repair business. But Kindig focuses on his love for design and making cars look out of the ordinary.

"The difference between us and them is the difference between standing in a showroom and standing in the parking lot of Harmons," Kindig said.

Kindig consults with his customers to know what they want their vehicle to look like. And he draws sketches to show them various designs that would work well with their vehicles.

Kindig hand draws all his designs, never using computer assistance.

He thinks his drawings show a more realistic design than a computer could. By seeing dimensions the customer can get a "feel of reality," Kindig said. "I don't like perfect perspective."

Kindig can also draw a design in as little as two hours, which he said would be faster than doing the design on a computer.

Accessories are also an important part of the business. Kindig-it sells custom wheels, grills and other custom auto features.

Kindig said because of all the services Kindig-it provides, he doesn't think his shop has any real competition.

Kindig-it Design is making a name for itself with the large jobs it has landed this year. Kindig and his crew designed and painted a new dragster sponsored by Maverick and a dragster sponsored by Cornwall Tools. Both dragsters compete nationally as a part of the Federal Mogul Dragster class of race cars.

Kindig also designed and painted the UGLIES Chrysler PT Cruiser. UGLIES is a growing Internet company that sells boxer shorts made of mismatched fabric to customers worldwide.

The Cruiser is being used this summer as part of UGLIES promotional tour. Kindig drew the design and hand-painted the car in just two weeks, often working 12- to 18-hour days. The paint job had 14 different designs that represented the boxer shorts patterns.

"The UGLIES car was definitely the most challenging I've done. But it was fun. Ideas were just popping up as I was painting it," Kindig said.

Kindig-it Design also paints high-end models like Lotus, Corvette, Dodge Viper, Lamborghini, hot rods and motorcycles, specializing in Harley-Davidsons.

A job may also be in the works for Randy Johnson, a professional baseball player. Kindig is working on designs of a hand-fabricated 1937 Ford.

Designs are applied by hand and airbrushed. Kindig said he uses very few decals because decals don't always move with the curves of a car.

Most of his work involves specialty jobs for customers who are usually in the car business and have their own private cars that need to be restored or cars for which they want custom design work.

The business doesn't usually enter contests or shows, but several of its customers do. Kindig-it Design recently finished the paint job design on a minitruck that went to an Autorama car show in Arizona and won two trophies. The truck is also being considered for the covers of two truck magazines.

Kindig said he prefers to work on cars that will be driven. He likes watching people's heads turn when he drives by in a vehicle he has designed. Kindig has even customized his own Oldsmobile station wagon. He believes cars can be practical and look good.

"We don't believe in 'trailer queens.' We want people to drive the cars we work on," he said.

Kindig's right-hand man is Mike Tidwell, who has 12 years of experience in custom auto painting. Tidwell and Kindig started the business together in June 1999.

Kindig had been working for eight years at High Performance Coatings, a company that applies ceramic coatings on exhaust systems for cars traveling to auto shows.

He had worked his way up to the position of operations manager for its western division but knew he would be happier if he had his own business in the work and design of custom cars.

Tidwell had been painting for Excaliber Custom Coach Works, but he decided he wanted "to do something a little different," so he left Excaliber to "do something (he) could be proud of."

Kindig has been pleased with Tidwell's work. "The guy can do anything. He has mechanical abilities and creative abilities," he said.

Tidwell's specialties include what Kindig calls his "claim to flame." His flames are very well drawn and painted, Kindig said.

Kindig considers his business to be successful this first year, pulling in about $400,000 in business.

Kindig decided not to advertise the first year as he got the business started, but contacts he made at his previous job and referrals have been keeping the company busy.

Charity, Kindig's wife, is co-owner of the business and does most of the worrying about how much business is coming in, Kindig said, but "things have fallen into place."

Although Kindig said the market for custom cars is growing in Utah, he and Tidwell are aware of the risks of being in a business that provides services that aren't always at a high demand.

"You're never going to make a ton of money doing custom work," Tidwell said.

But Kindig and Tidwell said they don't want to be millionaires. They are happy being able to do what they enjoy.

The Kindig-it Design shop is in the process of being remodeled. Once complete, there will be a small showroom that will display custom painted motorcycles, drawings Kindig has done and apparel with the businesses logo and accessories. Suspension installation capabilities may also be added to the shop in the near future.

Kindig calls himself a "very lucky guy to be able to sit around and draw cars." His dream is to open a large store within the next five years with a hot rod cafe that overlooks a large body shop and design area, as well as a showroom.