14 contestants will be vying for the title of World Champion Sketchmaster when the Middlecott Sketchbattle Experiment™ returns to the Tangent Gallery next Tuesday night, January 12th. The $1000 top prize will be awarded by BASF to the lone survivor of 3 rounds of sketching, based on the judging of a unique cross-industry panel of experts and design luminaries. Ralph Gilles of Fiat Chrysler, Doyle Letson of Ford, Bregt Ectors of GM and Paul Czornij of BASF will jointly decide the 2016 Detroit winner.
The Middlecott Sketchbattle Experiment™ is a live automotive sketching deathmatch with a $1,000 Grand Prize. Note that no designers will be injured during the “deathmatch” (at least that is the plan). Since the first event was held in 2012, The Sketchbattle, as it is known, has grown to become the most interesting and exciting of all the unofficial auto show events. Over 500 people attended the 2015 event where Darby Barber was crowned Sketchmaster and received the custom Mobsteel trophy. Tickets for the 2016 event can be found here.
For the 2016 Sketchbattle, Ralph Gilles, Head of Design Global for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, will serve as Chief Judge. Ralph needs no introduction for those inside the industry – for others the bio on the FCA website provides a glimpse into his design career. Or you can read a short article on his latest promotion here. But the real person behind the bio is more than just a great designer. Ralph’s many interests, from his family to racing, from his involvement in corporate diversity to his work with multiple local boards, not to mention the racing (again) make him the perfect Chief Judge for 2016 Detroit.
If you start with a great person from Fiat Chrysler, then the obvious next step is to find similar great people from Ford and General Motors. In this area we did not disappoint. Doyle Letson, Chief Designer, Ford Global Interiors is the second member of the panel. Doyle is another guy who you can describe with just a bio at your own risk. He started his career designing boats, moved to vehicle exteriors and then ended up in interiors. Doyle has passions outside the auto industry too, you might just bump into him at some local club singing lead for a rock and roll band. Maybe one year he will bring his band to play after the awards ceremony (we can dream).
The third judging panel member also has international responsibilities. Originally from Belgium, Bregt Ectors is the Global Strategic Design Manager for Buick. While he started his career at another company where he was responsible for the design of several global production vehicles, once joining the team at Buick in 2014 he started spending a lot of time in an airplane coordinating activities around the globe between Buick in North America and China and Opel/Vauxhall. Bregt, who has been incorrectly described online as “a downhill skier” and “a Mid Century Modern designer”actually spends his time outside the studio racing gokarts and trying to break a Land Speed Record in his Ginetta. Talk about well-rounded.
The final judge comes from BASF, who is presenting this year’s Middlecott Sketchbattle Experiment™. Paul Czornij is the Technical Manager for the BASF Color Excellence Group, and as such makes a perfect partner for the other designers on the panel. Paul was instrumental in pulling together the 150 year Anniversary colors that are the theme of this year’s sketching competition. “Color is the most visible way to express ourselves,” said Paul Czornij, technical manager for the BASF Color Excellence Group. “This is a very special year for BASF and our division wanted to capture the spirit of BASF in color, by reflecting its history and looking forward to what’s in store for the future.”