First Las Vegas Middlecott Sketchbattle Experiment™ Crowns a Sketchmaster

Whoever says there is no car design in the desert obviously wasn’t at the first Middlecott Sketchbattle Experiment™ in Las Vegas presented by Axalta.  The majority of people in town spent the day looking at underhood performance parts at SEMA, and then hundreds came downtown to the awesome building at MEET Las Vegas to raise $3,000 for charity as they watched 15 designers battle head-to-head over 3 rounds for the title of Sketchmaster!IMG_0674

Created by Middlecott Design, a Detroit-based design consultancy and produced by AACS (Advanced Automotive Consulting Services), an Ann Arbor-based corporate strategy and business development firm, the Las Vegas event was the 10th since the inaugural event in Detroit in September 2012. 49ca44b1-e16a-407b-8299-2c16dbc84b93_rwc_0x0x601x251x601AACS_diagram_blacklogo1

Over the past 5 years thousands of people have watched live as professional and student designers have sketched various production vehicles, the Las Vegas SEMA event is the first time they have concentrated on the aftermarket and modified vehicles. In the past the “Experiment” in the name of the Middlecott Sketchbattle Experiment™ has been put to good use, as the event has at various times included graffiti artists, and a Car Battle, a moving/live car show .12

The 2017 Las Vegas event was presented by Axalta, The art of vehicle refinishing demands the very best products and a commitment to total customer support. Axalta’s close interactions with their customers provides them with the information needed to continuously innovate. From coating systems offering an array of paint colors and tints to color matching and application know-how, the refinish craft requires a blend of skills that must come together to provide a result that meets customer approval each and every time. Axalta provides refinish coating systems for passenger and commercial vehicles that enables the refinish shop to meet this demanding goal.11000826_1003246506355241_5850638978480126837_n

Supporting partners for this event were Lacks Enterprises and  Covestro.  Before we let you know the winner, here is a small sampling of the fun you missed with a thanks and photo credit Isaac Ireland.

Many of the 15 contestants arrived early with supplies in hand and started sketching before the competition started like Olympic athletes stretching before their race.  If you want to read their bios and see their portfolios go HERE!   For the first time ever a professional ring announcer was on hand to introduce the sketchers as they made a dramatic entrance from stage right. IMG_5486

After making the contestant announcements, announcer Jake Gutierrez introduced the judges: Chief Judge Tim Anness, Head of Jeep Exterior Design, Camilo Pardo and Adam Genei, owner of Mobsteel.  Read their bios here.


LtoR: Tim Anness/Chief Judge, Camilo Pardo/Judge, Adam and Pam Genei/Judge and owners of Mobsteel, Brook and Judith Banham/Middlecott Design, Frank Schwartz/AACS

After the judges were announced, Referee Satori Circus gave the contestants a summary of the rules and with a ring of the bell, the sketching commenced.

Round 1

The theme for Round 1 was to sketch a Mobsteel Truck inside of the 30 minute time limit.  15 contestants started, but only 8 would make it to round 2.

Contestants took a varied approach, from wild modifications to existing vehicles to futuristic concepts from the future.

And before we forget, the team from Mobsteel makes all of our title belts!  Mobsteel is a design / build car company that manufactures aftermarket products and builds custom cars, while celebrating the history of the automobile and the Motor City Detroit, Michigan. 22789154_1498885156865084_4753247108056899559_n

They start with Detroit’s finest vintage cars and turn them into modern day menacing street machines. The cars they build are a part of American History; vintage Detroit steel, not some fiberglass repro. Steel with a soul and a story. “The blood, sweat and tears of our family and friends are in these motors, frames and bodies.”

Round 2

Based on the Judging Panel’s evaluations, 8 Contestants made it through to Round 2 Daney Chhang, Cesar Estrada, Ryan Goimarac, Omar Gonzales, Chris Lah, John Narcisco, Xander Wang and Michael DiTullo made it into the second round where the theme was Mobsteel Lincoln.

Since 2014,  the Middlecott Sketchbattle Experiment™ has been supporting local charities.  While the event is technically free to attend, we ask that all guests make a fully tax deductible donation to our charity of choice to gain entrance into our underground parties.  Past events have benefited The Suave Art Foundation, The Petersen Automotive Museum and others. 796289b6abb468dafbbfbbfae1c55f51 For Las Vegas we choose DriveOne.  DRIVE One is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, which instills at-risk youth with valuable trade skills required in today’s workforce. The program educates students in fields such as automotive technology, welding-fabrication, machine-operating, and other areas with employment opportunities so that they can seek a greater life. DRIVE also provides students with free tutoring services to achieve current academic success, as well as additional assistance in gaining employment, internships, and scholarships opportunities to stimulate growth beyond high school graduation.

Once again the sketchers were split between period-correct sketches and wild futuristic concepts.  The judges had a very tough time deciding on the final 4 competitors to make it into the Championship Round.

Round 3 – Championship Round

Unlike the first two rounds, the 3rd round was based on a  ore open theme, sketch any hot rod car imaginable, provided it fits the Mobsteel experience. Snip20170128_1

The four contestants were the cream of the crop, Michael DiTullo, who treats us all with a sketch every day on his facebook feed, Omar Gonzales, the 2016 Detroit Sketchmaster, Daney Chhang, who got eliminated in Los Angeles in the first round in 2016, and the overwhelming leader after 2 rounds Xander Wang.

 Xander had impressed the judges with his sketch quality and ability to match what Adam Genei, owner of Mobsteel had described as “exactly what we do”.  But in the end the judges spent time debating the merits between Chhang and DiTullo, lamenting the Alfa-esque sketch from leader Wang, not something that fully fits with the Mobsteel brand.


Special Award: Lacks-itivity Winner

For the first time at an event, our partner Lacks introduced a special award.  The judging criteria was to portray a sketch concept that blends Lacks Enterprises finish technologies (Chromeplating, Spinelle, Selective Spinelle, Tessera) into a seamless flow of form, surface and texture thus creating a sense of harmony and scale fidelity. Lacks Enterprises_16w x 8h Lightbox_r7-page-001 (1)

Ty Stump, Head of Design at Lacks Enterprises, choose the winner based on their sketch quality.  The winner will get his sketch turned into a 3D model – and the award was presented to Omar Gonzales for his consistency in all three rounds, but specifically to the quality of his sketch in Round 1.

So, after much deliberation, Chief Judge Tim Anness, Camilo Pardo, Adam Genei and David Fisher of Axalta announced the 2017 Las Vegas Sketchmaster – Daney Chhang


Brook and I couldn’t run an event of this magnitude without an awesome staff.  Judith is the unsung hero working tirelessly behind the scenes.  Satori Circus, Detroit’s own Blue Man Group is our Referee and keeps the audience engaged.  Jake Gutierrez our ring announcer, DJ Nemo spining mad tunes in the background and Dan Dimaggio mixing live graphics during the event and runs our Video Screen.   Our event manager Erin and the staff of Nikki the Ring Girl, Destiny, Simone, Tony, Chris and others made our first Vegas event a blast.


About Frank Schwartz

Frank Schwartz is the founder of 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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