Judges announced for Middlecott Sketchbattle Experiment™ LA

16 of the industry’s brightest and most talented young designers will be vying for the title of World Champion Sketchmaster when the Middlecott Sketchbattle Experiment™ comes to Los Angeles on Wednesday November 16th.  The $2,500 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.  Chris Benjamin of Fiat Chrysler, Bryan Thompson of Bryan Thompson Design, Michael DiTullo of Polk Audio, Scott Robertson of Drawthrough and Paul Czornij of BASF will jointly decide the 2016 Los Angeles winner.

chrisbenjamin_2-revChief Judge Chris Benjamin has been Head of Interior Design at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles North America since October 2015.   In this position, Benjamin is responsible for the interior design of Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep®, Ram Truck and Fiat vehicles.  Prior to his appointment, Benjamin served as Chief Designer for the Chrysler Brand where he led the interior design development of the all-new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica and 2016 Chrysler 300.

chrisbenjamin-revChris was previously Design Director at the Volvo Cars in Camarillo CA.  Prior to Volvo he had positions of increasing responsibility at both BMW Designworks and Mercedes-Benz in California and Mercedes-Benz in Germany.  Chris  holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in transportation industrial design from the College for Creative Studies in Detroit (1999).  We are excited to have someone of Chris’s experience and talent to lead our panel of experts as they choose the Sketchmaster.


Bryan Thompson loves being a contributor to pop culture

Our second Judge is Bryan Thompson, recently famous from his time on a reality TV show. Bryan however, was well known before the show, and his consulting firm has designed for multiple industries, from Executive Jet interiors for Embraer, to Airstream Camping trailers, to Entertainment Production Design. He can credit the throne from which Katy Perry Roars from; in the music video for the song as one of his favorite projects he’s worked on.


Bryan’s time in the automotive industry has been spent designing for major car companies including Nissan (where I met him), Peugeot and Volvo/Mack Trucks. He has designed in studios around the world from France to Japan, and from Austria to Brazil. Bryan lives and breathes cars, camping trailers, and small space design.  He is a frequent contributor to various mainstream publications and media including Good Morning America and written for NBC / Universal’s BravoTV.


The Middlecott Sketchbattle Experiment™ is a live automotive sketching deathmatch with a $2,500 Grand Prize.  It is not our intent for any designers to be injured during the “deathmatch”, but we cannot protect egos.  The competition starts with 16 contestants who battle head-to-head in 3 rounds.  Each round features a different theme and guest judges to help Chris and Bryan choose which ones get through to the next round.


Round 1 Guest Judge Michael DiTullo

The theme for Round 1 is Tunes, and Michael DiTullo is the perfect addition to the panel.  Michael is a passionate creator and advocate for design. He joined Sound United in 2012 as Chief Design Officer where he leads design for the Polk, Definitive and BOOM. Prior to Sound United, Michael was Creative Director at Frog Design (2010-2012) where he worked with a range of clients including Google, Motorola, Intel, Honda, and Qoros.



Michael DiTullo in his element

From 2003 until 2010, Michael held various positions at Nike Inc, including Design Director at Converse, designer at Jordan were he worked directly with professional athletes designing gear to their exacting performance needs, and Nike sportswear where he designed premium lifestyle product for the European market. DiTullo started his career at Evo Design (1998-2003). He has also consulted with boutique manufacturers such as Icon 4×4. DiTullo holds a BFA in Industrial Design from The Rhode Island School of Design and spent time studying at the Cleveland Institute of Art and Domus Academy in Milan.

161028_artofbugattiThe Petersen Automotive Museum is the host to the live action sketching contest, as the as part of the AutomobilityLA and the Los Angeles Auto Show.  The competition will take place in the Mullin Grand Ballroom which features a collection of artifacts and 20 rare Bugattis.  


Which leads us to the Round 2 Theme – Bugatti.  And for this we have found the perfect Judge, Scott Robertson.  Scott is will known through his Drawthrough website, The Gnomon Worksop and Scott Robertson workshops.  With more than 18 years of experience teaching and creating curriculum on how to design, draw and render at the highest college level, Scott brings unique and unquestioned expertise to our panel.   Scott formerly chaired the Entertainment Design department at Art Center College of Design that he helped to create. He frequently lectures around the world for various corporations, colleges and through his own workshop brand, SRW.


In addition to teaching, Scott has worked on a wide variety of projects ranging from vehicle and alien designs for the Hot Wheels animated series Battle Force Five, to theme park attractions such as the Men in Black ride in Orlando, Florida, for Universal Studios. Some of his clients have included the BMW subsidiary Design-works/USA, Bell Sports, Giro, Mattel Toys, Spin Master Toys, Patagonia, the feature film Minority Report, Nike, Rockstar Games, Sony Online Entertainment, Sony Computer Entertainment of America, Buena Vista Games, THQ, and Fiat, among others.


Middlecott Sketchbattle Esperiment 2016

Kemal Curic of Lincoln pointing out some details to Paul Czornij in Detroit.

Round 3’s theme will be to sketch in the color of the year from BASF, our title partner.   Paul Czornij is the Head of Design for the BASF Color Excellence Group, and as such makes a perfect partner for the other designers on the panel.  Paul was instrumental in developing the “Color of the Year”, Reflexion Nebula, which was recently unveiled at the SEMA show on a custom 2009 Nissan Skyline GT-R (which is proudly displayed in the Petersen lobby).  “Our design team predicts a stronger presence of blue shades that offer versatility and broad appeal in the automotive space,” said Paul  “This is apparent in Reflexion Nebula, with its dynamic and scintillating look that is both playful and sophisticated.” 

IMG_3954Since 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 2016 event in Detroit where Omar Gonzalez was crowned Sketchmaster and received the custom Mobsteel trophy.

msbexp-e-flyer-letter-size_la_v8_150-dpiTickets for the 2016 LA event can be found here

and also on the website of AutomobilityLA

and The Petersen Automotive Museum.







The event is open to the public and tickets can be found at https://msbe2016la.eventbrite.com/?aff=AACS 

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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