Who is the newest Sketchmaster? Middlecott Sketchbattle Experiment™ Detroit 2018

Many people consider Detroit the center of the automotive design universe because for all practical purposes it was invented here.  There are those who argue that California may now be the center of advanced design considering how many studios are located there.  But no where on earth is there the amount of concentration of design as here, right in our backyard.  2 Design Schools, 7 OEM Design Offices and many, many more supplier design studios mean that Detroit has the highest concentration of automotive designers of anyplace else in the world.  So it is only fitting that Detroit and historic St. Andrew’s Hall was host to the penultimate round of the Middlecott Sketchbattle Experiment™


Photo Credit: Ingo Rautenberg

This was the 12th Sketchbattle, and the winners from the 2017 events in Las Vegas and Los Angeles were invited back to compete for the title of Sketchmaster.  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.



Photo Credits: Trista Dymond

The 2018 Detroit 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.

DSC_9809For Detroit BASF was joined by HARMAN, Lacks  Enterprises, Covestro, Osram and Linkage Design to present the largest event to date as more than 500 people came together to celebrate design and enjoy the night club atmosphere after a couple of long days at the Detroit Auto Show.


Many 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.



Photo Credits: Trista Dymond

The competitors were split into two groups to encourage a level playing field and featured 5 former and defending champions.  From the student side, four schools were represented; The College for Creative Studies in Detroit, Art Center College of Design, Lawrence Tech School of Design and Macomb Community College.  The student battlers were Andres Bastidas, Ankit Util, Dhruv Veerkar, Eric Groner, Ian Bass (Detroit 2017 Student Champion), Marcus Jones, Ryan El-Yafouri and Shubham Singh.  Unfortunately 2017 Los Angeles Champion Xander Wang encountered travel issues and was not able to participate.

From the professional side we had contestants from all the major car companies and some suppliers including Aurel Francois, Casey Swasenger (defending 2017 Detroit Sketchmaster), Daney Chhang (2017 Las Vegas Sketchmaster), Darby Barber (2015 Detroit Sketchmaster), Justin Sorum, Kayvan “K1” Nadari (best nickname), and Ryan Goimarac (longest participating contestant).   You can read the contestant bios here.

After the battlers were introduced and made their way into the arena, ring announcer Teryy “The Voice” Ayraultintroduced the judges:  Chief Judge Jim Fleming from Cadillac, Mark Trostle from Dodge, Michael Smith from Ford, Philip Siebourg from Harman, Ty Stump from Lacks, and Paul Czornij from BASF.   You can read a bio of the judges here.


Photo Credit: Mike Ferdinande

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 for all the rounds can be found here. 

The theme for Round 1 was to sketch a vehicle incorporating one of Harman’s Brand Mood Boards.  The round had a 30 minute time limit and of the 15 contestants who started, it was expected that 7 would get knocked out, leaving only 8 to make it to the second round.



The judging panel was joined by Philipp Siebourg from Harman to make their decision on who would be eliminated.  Based on their evaluations, 4 Students and 4 Professionals made it through to Round 2.


Photo Credit: Trista Dymond

The Students who made it through were Andres Bastidas, Dhruv Veerkar,  Marcus Jones, and Shubham Singh.  For the Professionals, it was Casey Swasenger (defending 2017 Detroit Sketchmaster), Darby Barber (2015 Detroit Sketchmaster), Justin Sorum, and Ryan Goimarac.  These 8 were then seated in the arena for Round 2.


Photo Credit: Ingo Rautenberg

For Round 2 the theme was Lacks Wheels and/or Grilles and at the end of another 30 minutes, it was expected 4 more would get knocked out, leaving 4 in the Championship Round.



The panel of judges, this time joined by guest judge Dennis Myles and Ty Stump of Lacks had a difficult time narrowing the field down to the final four.



Photo Credits: Trista Dymond

For the first time in Sketchbattle history, 5 finalists were announced.  Students Andres Bastidas, Marcus Jones, and Shubham Singh and professionals Darby Barber and Ryan Goimarac.


Photo Credit: Ingo Rautenberg

Unlike the first two rounds, the 3rd round was based on a more open theme, sketch any vehicle imaginable, provided it fits the BASF Paranormal Red 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.


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.


Photo Credit: Trista Dymond

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.”


Photo Credit: Trista Dymond

Here are a couple of words from judge Michael Smith about the winner “The Middlecott Sketchbattle Experiment showcases the best traits of a good designer: with consideration for your customer’s requirements…  communicate a creative idea, utilizing the traditional skills of your craft.


Photo Credit: Trista Dymond

So, after much deliberation, Chief Judge Jim Fleming, and judges Mark Trostle, Michael Smith, and Paul Czornij announced the 2018 Detroit Sketchmaster – Shubham Singh – the first winner from India.


Photo Credit: Ingo Rautenberg


We asked Shubham about his winning sketch after the hubbub died down, this was his response about the Paranormal Red color “in my culture, Red holds a really high up place amongst our gods, the clothes we wear, the food we eat so I would say why this color holds a significant place in all the projects I do, sketches I create and even the food I cook. Its pure and has an dynamic aura which no other color holds



Photo Credits: Trista Dymond

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.

IMG_4594_1536This year the Detroit event once again benefited Project Beautiful – Inside and Out.  And while we gave founder Doris Gilles a blank check on the stage since the final tally had not yet been made, the end result was $7,500 to help women and children in Detroit area shelters.


Photo Credit: Ingo Rautenberg

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 along with Terry Aryault our ring announcer.


DJ Captain Nemo spining mad tunes in the background and Dan Dimaggio mixing live graphics during the event to run on our video screen.


Event manager Erin, who conceived of and implemented the People’s Choice award, which was won by Justin Sorum.


The registration staff and Destiny the Ring Girl that helped make the event a blast.


Here are some other great pictures from last week.

Here is the full photo gallery

from our photographers Ingo Rautenberg

Trista Dymond, Mike Ferdinande

and Don Wood.

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

See you at the next Sketchbattle where we start the process to find next January’s final Sketchmaster.

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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