“Nailed It!” Los Angeles crowns a new Sketchmaster

Normally, to find the center of automotive design, you have to come to Detroit, home of Harley Earl and Virgil Exner.  But for a singular evening in November, the center of the entire automotive design universe was at AutomobilityLA in Los Angeles as part of the Middlecott Sketchbattle Experiment™ presented by BASF.  17 sketch-battlers fought it out over three rounds to determine the best-of-the-best and crown the new Sketchmaster.  Read on to find out who won……TED_8135

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 second annual Middlecott Sketchbattle Experiment™  at the Los Angeles Auto Show drew contestants from around the globe.  Over the past 5 years thousands of people have watched live as professional and student designers have competed head-to-head in The Fight Club of Design.49ca44b1-e16a-407b-8299-2c16dbc84b93_rwc_0x0x601x251x601AACS_diagram_blacklogo1

The 2017 Los Angeles event was presented by BASF, the world’s largest chemical company and an unmatched expert in the coatings industry.  The partnership between #MSBEXP and BASF goes back several years, and for good reason.  Color. It’s the first thing – and sometimes, the only thing – that people notice. TED_8137

For Los Angeles BASF was joined by three other perfect partners; HARMAN, Lacks  Enterprises and Covestro.

Picture1HARMAN delivers beautiful sound by combining unmatched audio quality and iconic design to create a work of both art and sound.   This is done through legendary brands such as Harman Kardon, JBL, JBL Professional, Mark Levinson, Revel, Infinity, Lexicon, AKG, Bang & Olufsen, and Bowers & Wilkins.

Picture4Lacks Enterprises fosters proactive inquiry and study, thereby providing an encouraging environment for forward-thinking solutions that have direct benefits to automotive manufacturers.

Picture5Covestro cultivates innovative answers to the most difficult automotive questions of style, performance, fuel efficiency and safety through the use material, such as flexible glazing.

TED_8106Many of the sketch-battlers arrived early (and some arrived late) with supplies in hand .  Some started sketching before the competition started like Olympic athletes stretching before their race, the rest socialized to get rid of the nervous energy.

T7__7889The competitors were split into two groups to encourage a level playing field.  Three  schools were represented; The College for Creative Studies in Detroit, Art Center College of Design and Concept Design Acadamy from Pasadena.  The student battlers were Beto Marz, Chris Corrado, David Pichla, Joseph Robinson, Mauri Santiago, Sorie Kim, Xander Wang and 2016 Detroit Sketchmaster Omar Gonzalez.  You can read their bios here.

The Professionals were represented by companies both inside and outside the automotive industry and came from as far away as China to compete.  Dwayne Vance, Jessica Kim, John Narcisco, Matthew Cunningham, Omar Rehman, Wu Di, defending Las Vegas 2017 Sketchmaster Daney Chhang and defending Los Angeles 2016 Sketchmaster John Frye.  You can read their bios here.

After the battlers were introduced and made their way into the ring on stage, the ring announcer introduced the judges:  Chief Judge Erik Klimisch from Kia, Randy Rodriguez from Tesla, Camilo Pardo, Matt Marrocco of Harman, Kyle Korth of Lacks, and Paul Czornij of BASF.  A short bio of the judges can be found here.Picture10  Referee Satori Circus gave the contestants a summary of the rules and with a ring of the bell, the sketching commenced.  The rules and themes can be found here. TED_8155

Round 1 – HARMAN

The theme for Round 1 was to sketch a vehicle incorporating one of Harman’s brands as described here.  The round had a 25 minute time limit and of the 17 contestants who started, it was expected that 9 would get knocked out, leaving only 8 would to make it to round 2.

We saw a range of techniques and concepts in the first round that had not been previously used.  One contestant even produced a collage with his design and the field was split between sketching the exterior and interior of the concepts.  The panel of judges (Chief Judge Erik Klimisch, Randy Rodriguez and Camilo Pardo) which included guest judge Matt Marrocco from HARMAN, deliberated for almost 20 minutes before reaching their decision.

Round 2 – Lacks

Based on the Judging Panel’s evaluations, 4 Students and 4 Professionals made it through to Round 2.  The Students who made it through were Beto Martinez, Mauri Santiago, Omar Gonzalez and Xander Wang.

For the Professionals, it was Daney Chhang, Dwayne Vance, John Frye, and Omar Rehman.  The theme was Lacks Wheels and/or Grilles and at the end of another 25 minutes, it was expected 4 more would get knocked out, leaving 4 in the Championship Round.

Once again the sketchers were split.  One contestant sketched just a grille, 4 sketched just wheels and the remaining 3 included both grilles and wheels.  It did not matter as the judges once again unanimously selected the finalists.  The panel of judges, this time joined by guest judge Kyle Korth of Lacks had an easier time than in round 1, but still deliberated for 15 minutes before reaching their decision as to who would move on to round 3.TED_8551

2016 Detroit Sketchmaster Omar Gonzales, 2016 Los Angeles Sketchmaster John Frye and 2017 Las Vegas Sketchmaster Daney Chhang were joined by Art Center student Xander Wang in the final round.TED_8429

Round 3 – Championship Round – BASF

Unlike the first two rounds, the 3rd round was based on a more open theme, sketch any vehicle imaginable, provided it fits the BASF Haymaker color.  For this round Paul Czornij of BASF joined the judging panel.  As tight as the competition was all evening, this was the easiest round for the judges to choose because they only had to pick one winner, and it was quickly unanimous.


John Frye, the 2016 Los Angeles Sketchmaster‘s retro-inspired concept included cutting out his sketch and attaching it to a black background.  Here is a great video of his sketching techniques.  As the defending champion we also did a 10 Questions with him  right before the LA event.Picture6

Omar Gonzalez, the 2016 Detroit Sketchmaster brought his unique style to bear on the BASF theme. In the end the color appeared a little too red for the judges’ tastes.Picture7

Daney Chhang, the 2017 Las Vegas Sketchmaster used a blue background to emphasize the BASF Haymaker orange color.Picture8

And finally, the only non-champion in the bunch, Xander Wang, who the judges said “Nailed It”.TED_8496

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.T7__7977

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.”

Picture11Before we announce the winner, we have a few words and comments from our judges.  Chief Judge Erik Klimisch “I really liked the round assignments <from Harman, Lacks and BASF>.  Unlike a school assignment that just looked for the best sketch of a sports car, it added an extra dimension and challenged the contestants to deliver a solution.  The winner tackled the assignment well. I was also surprised to see so many people watching, the turnout was very impressive”.  Judge Randy Rodriguez added “Congratulations to the winner and also to the rest of the competitors for making it difficult for the judges to decide on great the work all around.  It was very interesting to see the unique solutions to the challenging themes for each round. Having the sponsors weigh in on the judging if the design resonated with their criteria was very important.”

So, after much deliberation, Chief Judge Erik Klimisch, and judges Randy Rodriguez, Camilo Pardo, and Paul Czornij announced the 2017 Los Angeles Sketchmaster – Xander Wang.TED_8544

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, Drive ONE Detroit and Project Beautiful Inside and Out.20171127_121756

This year the LA event once again benefited The Petersen Automotive Museum.  Rated by CNN, Octane, and Top Gear as “the world’s greatest automotive museum” the Petersen Automotive Museum has always been an amazing setting for glamorous celebrations. But, after its 2015 total transformation inside and out, it’s become a positively astounding place.  Here are a few pictures from the Museum I took this week.

TED_8077Brook 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 Destiny the Ring Girl, Nikki, Mo, Amir, Amy, Christopher,  Elena, Jordan, Rochelle, Shannon and others that helped make the event a blast.

Here are some other great pictures from last week.

Here is the full photo gallery

from our photographer Ted7

Feel free to share as long as you give him photo credit.

Here are the entire week’s list of articles:

See you at the next Sketchbattle

in Detroit, Tuesday January 16th

at historic St. Andrew’s Hall

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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