10 Questions with our 2016 Sketchmaster

A couple of weeks ago the Middlecott Sketcbattle Experiment™ took the Auto Show in Detroit by storm.  And one designer in particular took the judges by storm, as Omar Gonzales scored a win and a bunch of cash after getting off a plane from the west coast.  We decided to take a few minutes and pose our typical 10 questions to Omar to learn a little more about him.


TSB: When did you know you wanted to be a designer?

OG: Since I was a kid, always I’ve had a strong interest in art and all activities which are involved, because art somehow means discovering new things that haven’t been created before and I think design it’s all about.

Omar Gonzolez - Nightfall Blue - Round1

Omar’s Round 1 Sketch – BASF’s Nightfall Blue

Throughout my life I’ve had the curiosity about everything; I’ve been always intrigued about the new stuff, about find the unknown. When I grew up this “need” became stronger and I had the feeling I had to find the way to canalize it. A couple of years ago before I enter to the Industrial Design degree in Mexico, those interests have matured and evolved into an strong interest for Transportation Design, because for me it’s one of the most complex and exciting way to create something new.

Middlecott Sketchbattle Esperiment 2016

Omar’s sketches in all 3 rounds of the Sketchbattle   Photo: Ed Ballots

Furthermore, for a long time I’ve been observing what Transportation means throughout human history, since the first civilizations on earth, needed to use animals to move from one place to another as well as the influence that transportation industry has on the entire world nowadays. The Automotive industry has a huge power of change and a tremendous relevance in the world in aspect of politics, social, sustainability, management of the planet resources and creation of new energies to move this world, therefore this industry has a huge responsibility to reinvent itself, evolve and make this world a better place to live.


TSB: Where do you go to school and how did you decide which school to attend?

OG: I’ve never attended a car design school, currently I just graduated from Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon (UANL) in Mexico, Industrial Design program (Editor’s note – it’s in Monterrey), and I decided to study there because after that, I would like to study in one of the best schools in the world on Transportation Design like College for Creative Studies and Art Center College of Design. One of my objectives is to make my design portfolio as strong as I can to get a huge scholarship, otherwise it will be practically impossible to study Transportation Design.

home-graphicsDue to my program was on Industrial Design, I decided to learn Transportation Design by myself, on my free time I’ve been viewing portfolios, participating in several Design Competitions like Interactive Design Competition (GM), Interior Motives Awards and others, I’ve had the opportunity to receive feedback form some designers like Carlo Palazzani, Alexandre Rossier, Collin Phipps, Andrea Mocellin, Dario Olivero, That’s the way I’ve been getting knowledge so far.


Omar’s acceptance speech    Photo: Jon Adams

TSB:  What was your first job? How did you get it?

OG: I’ve never had the chance to work on the automotive industry so far, but I would like to get an opportunity because I’m very interested on how the industry works inside of the design studios, collaborating with experienced designers.


Photo: Jon Adams

I believe working in the industry would expand my mind; I would like to make meaningful changes on transportation design in the future, first I need to get inside on the car design world though.

Omar Gonzalez - Fresh Mint Green- Round2

Sketchbattle Round 2 BASF’s Fresh Mint- Omar’s Sketch


TSB:  What are your favorite cars and why?

OG: Honestly I don’t have favorite cars, I want to mentioned, I admire the industry as a whole, and I ‘m impressed  how the industry has evolved throughout the time, making meaningful changes in aspects of shape, language, technology and the interaction between engineering and design. I really like the passion, design philosophies and effort behind of each car Company, for example “Art and science” Cadillac’s brand philosophy, I really like it, because reminds me to the hemispheres of the brain “Artistic and Logical side’’ I believe car design, it’s about to find the balance between both sides.


Cadillac at the NAIAS      Photo: POVCarDesigns

On the other hand, if I need to tell you about my favorite cars, I would like to say “I love electric cars” because electric vehicles for me represent the beginning of something new. Throughout the car industry, more than 100 years, the cars have been created on a very similar manner, I believe it’s time to see the cars in a different perspective, electric cars might not be the solution, but for sure they are the transition for a change, I would like to be part of that transition.


Maybe this electric is interesting to Omar – the new Chevy Bolt    Photo: AACS

TSB:  Where do you get your inspiration?

OG: My inspiration at the moment to create a new project is to think about what transportation design will become on the future, because there a lot of improvements on several science fields such as; particle physics, biotechnology, nanotechnology, electrical engineering and others. I believe all of them are “ingredients” to create something totally new and advanced, I’m aware that cars will be totally different as we know them today.



Transportation design for me it’s very inspiring, if you see transportation design on wider perspective, you realize that in the future Transportation would be “a universal need which takes us from A to B in any coordinate on a space”.


Omar Gonzolez - Arjean Silver - Round3

The Winning Sketch – Arjean Silver Omar Golzalez

TSB: Are there any other designers you admire?

OG: First of all for me a designer is someone who is capable to create something new, someone who is creative to take decisions, to make reality any idea.


Steve Schwartz/Alfa Jango, Elon Musk and Frank Schwartz/AACS

I admire the work of some people, Elon Musk for example he’s a person who is making big changes in the world. Musk is creating a difference by starting companies and projects such as; Tesla Motors, Space X, Hyperloop and Mars One. His Mars One project might sounds like a crazy idea but there’s a huge chance for the world to explore new horizons. Elon is aware that there’s more “outside” and that we are living in a universe full of possibilities, He is one of the people that I share the most interests and ideas with. The development of electric vehicles to discard fossil fuels forever is a huge change in going one step forward.


Inside the Tesla Factory     Photo: AACS

I believe we need to find new alternative energies to improve the automotive industry which will also make people see cars in another perspective. People should see cars as efficient, safe, and sustainable machines, instead of “elegant and expensive machines which produce smog”. There are a lot of changes we need to do to evolve and move one step forward and companies like Tesla Motors are close to achieve it.


When you meet Omar – ask him about his dancing    Photo: Ingo Rautenberg

TSB: What is the most recent project you worked on (that you are allowed to talk about)? Can you tell us a little about the process and end result?

OG: One of my latest projects I’ve worked was for Cadillac, “Cadillac Unified” I made this project for GM Interactive Design Competition 2016. The brief asked, for the design of a new fuel cell performance SUV with autonomous capability, also it should embody the Cadillac design philosophy.


Cadillac Unified – Car Design News and GM Interactive Design Competition

Cadillac Unified, was inspired on Cadillac’s brand philosophy “Art & Science” and the “Unification”. The main objective of the project is to unify the car itself, in order to see the cars in different perspective. Instead of see the interior design and exterior design as a separate components, we will see the cars as a whole, a unified composition, each shape will be an integrated component between “inside” to the “outside” of the car body. I did some sketches about how the car body unification would be, and the result was a design concept where the interior components are exposed to the “outside” and the exterior components are exposed to the “inside”

The design project gave me the opportunity to attend NAIAS 2016 as a finalist of the Cadillac Exterior category, I had the opportunity to meet the Cadillac designers and members of GM, and it was a very cool experience.



2016 Detroit Sketchmaster Omar Gonzalez     Photo: Ingo Rautenberg

TSB: Can you tell us what you think are the biggest challenges facing young designers?

OG: I think the biggest challenge for new designers is to find a meaningful own purpose to design cars, going deep in their minds and try to find that something unique that every person has and translate it  into a new concept  in order to avoid the sameness in design. As designers they are going to be capable to design the future and all of them will be responsible for the new decisions to make this world better.



TSB:  Are there any last parting words of wisdom you would like to give to aspiring designers?

OG: Explore your curiosity, there are a lot of “ingredients” in this world to create something new, art, science, technology don’t be afraid to experiment with something, remember you are the artist, you are the responsible to change this reality.


Middlecott Sketcbattle Experiment Detroit 2016    Phot: Ingo Rautenberg

TSB: One  final question, tell us about your experiences in the Sketchbattle

OG: It was one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had, It was so exciting to compete with talented people around the world, I had fun, for sure. Furthermore I’m impressed by the audience and judges who attended the Sketchbattle full of good designers from Cadillac, Volvo, Chrysler, Ford and others, It was a pleasure to sketch on live for all of them.  Definitely Middlecott Sketchbattle is a very good platform for the young designers to make connections inside the automotive industry.


About Frank Schwartz

Frank Schwartz is the founder of CarFriend.me and Advanced Automotive Consulting Services, partner in The Middlecott Sketchbattle Experiment and serial entrepeneur. A long time automotive enthusiast, Frank started reading car magazines at the age of 8 and has spent 30+ years working inside the automotive industry. In his spare time Frank races with the Sports Car Club of America, spends time working on his numerous project cars and supports many local charities.
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1 Response to 10 Questions with our 2016 Sketchmaster

  1. Brook Banham says:

    Nice interview Omar! Glad you liked the Sketchbattle!

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