The Judges – A #MSBEXP-LA Black Friday Story

8 professional and 8 student sketch-battlers will be vying for the title of World Champion Sketchmaster when the Middlecott Sketchbattle Experiment™ presented by BASF comes to AutomobilityLA next week.  The “Fight Club of Design” party features a live sketching competition, great music and greater cars on Wednesday, November 29th from 7-11pm in the Technology Pavilion on site at the LA Auto Show.  Over the years the event has been judged by a unique cross-industry of experts and design luminaries such as Camilo Pardo, Ralph Gilles of FCA, Doyle Letson of Ford, Bregt Ectors of GM and many others.  The panel gets to choose who receives the $2500 top prize by BASF.  For LA, John Buckingham of BMW will be the Chief Judge, and will be joined by Erik Klimisch of Kia and Randy Rodriguez of Tesla, along with guest judges for each themed round.MSBE Los Angeles presented by BASF v_7

Chief Judge John Buckingham


It would be hard to have missed the press surrounding our Chief Judge over the past few months as he was responsible for the exterior of the stunning BMW Concept 8 Series coupe.  Buckingham is now Automotive Creative Director for BMW Group DesignworksUSA in Thousand Oaks, where he has worked since coming to the states in 2012.  Prior to that he worked for BMW in Europe and graduated from Coventry University with a BA in Transport Design.  We met John during a Designer Night at the Races charity karting event 4 + years ago, right after he had finished the Mini Rocketman Concept.  Now we can say he has had a hand in 2 of our favorite 10 concept cars of the past 5 years.

Editor’s Note – unfortunately, a last minute scheduling change means that John Buckingham will not be able to join us.  Keep an eye on this space for a substitute!

Judge Erik Klimisch


Like Buckingham, Klimisch is responsible for one of my favorite 10 concept cars over the past 5 years, the Kia GT4 Stinger (now we have 30% covered).  Klimisch is currently Head of Interior Design, CMF (Color, Material and Fabric) and Engineering at the Kia Design Studio in Irvine where he has been for the past 13 years. During that time he has been busy: 13 production exteriors, 3 production interiors and 10 concept vehicles.  Prior to his stint at Kia, he worked 18 years at Ford as an exterior design manager, taught design at the Center for Creative Studies in Detroit and the University of Michigan. In between he managed a year at a secret internet startup in Silicon Valley.  He is a 1987 graduate of the Center for Creative Studies with a BFA in Transportation Design.  In his free time Klimisch is an avid Mountain biker and is currently learning to ride a horse.

Editor’s Note Let’s keep our fingers crossed he doesn’t fall off a horse this weekend so we don’t have to replace 2 judges.

Judge Randy Rodriguez


Our final judge, Randy Rodriguez, is currently Creative Manager of Design at Tesla.  As we respect Tesla’s privacy we won’t talk about the programs you may have recently seen he has worked on.  So, we will give some details about Rodriguez’s career leading up to his recent move.  He joined Tesla last year after 14 years at Nissan, where he was exterior lead on programs like the 2016 Titan and 2009 370Z, as well as concepts like the 2012 Infiniti Emerg-E.  In his spare time he has done freelance design, such as the original ICON Aircraft exterior concept.  He is a 2002 graduate of the Center for Creative Studies with a BFA in Transportation Design.  Like Buckingham, we foist met Randy karting for charity, back in 2008.

Editor’s Note – Randy kicks my tail at every karting event he has attended.  It was my idea to get him involved here so perhaps he will let me win next time.

Guest Judges

mattFor Round 1, the theme is Harman Audio, and the panel will be joined by Guest Judge Matt Marrocco.  Marrocco is senior Industrial Designer at Harman International’s Novi Design Studio.  If you are a designer, you may know about Matt through his range of IDRAW sketchbooks. Marrocco graduated from the Center for Creative Studies with a BFA in Industrial Design in 2009.IMG_0633

For Round 2, the theme is Lacks Grilles and Wheels, and the panel will be joined by Guest Judge Kyle Korth.  Korth became passionate about cars from an early age having grown up traveling to cars shows across the American Heartland, however slowly; with his father’s ’34 Ford due to its’ perpetual overheating and empty gas tank.  With a deep interest in both the automotive business and design stemming from those early automotive memories, Kyle decided to study Transportation Design at College for Creative Studies. Upon graduating, Kyle has been working for Lacks Enterprises in their Industrial Design group where he has been creating product concepts with an eye toward Lacks’ current and future technologies.  Raised in Iowa with gas in his veins, and horsepower in his heart, Kyle is now a true Motor City convert.


For the Championship Round, the theme is BASF’s color “Haymaker”, and the panel will be joined by Paul Czornij.  Czornij is Head of Design for the BASF Color Excellence Group.

Be sure to come back this week to read the rest of the story:

And don’t forget to make a donation in advance

We expect a rather long line at the event and having your tickets in advance will shorten your queue time.  Also don’t forget we support students with deeply discounted advance tickets.MSBE Los Angeles presented by BASF v_7

Tickets for the 2017 LA event can be found here


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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