Sketchbattle 15 Winners!

If you have any question that Detroit is the center of the automotive design universe, Sketchbattle 15 should alleviate your doubts.  More than 600 people, a mix of automotive designers, engineers, suppliers, Detroit-area businesses, the local arts community,  automotive enthusiasts, media and even Michigan Legislators, came together to celebrate design as a talent as the newest Sketchmaster was crowned.  Before we give you a rundown of the rounds and the winner, let us take you through the activities of the evening from beginning to end…..


Historic St. Andrew’s Hall, site of Sketchbattle 15                                           photo: Charles Ruggles

Tuesday January 15th was the perfect date for Sketchbattle 15 at historic St Andrew’s Hall, and for once the winter weather in Detroit cooperated. The lack of snow and mild temperatures meant no one minded the small line outside waiting to get in.   photos Ingo Rautenberg and Charles Ruggles

Detroit has always marked the end of the Sketchbattle season as the winners from the 2018 events were invited back to compete for the title of Sketchmaster.  Since its inception as a small invite-only event in 2012, thousands of people have watched live as professional and student designers competed head-to-head in The Fight Club of Design. This will be the last year for the winter Detroit event as the 2020 move to June means a new plan for the event.  The date of June 9th, 2020 has been reserved and the SKetchbattle will have an outdoors beer garden for the first time.  The move also will allow for the first ever Sketchbattle at CES in January 2020.  photo: Erin Miracle50279685_2034287549991506_6094057868556763136_n

Even the local news attended this year with the following clip appearing on TV7 WXYZ.picture1

BASF has presented the Detroit Sketchbattle since 2016 and is the perfect partner for the visual competition “Because the greatest sketchers deserve the best in color inspiration”.  Color is a foundation to our experience of the world and the world’s largest chemical company is an unmatched expert in the paint and coatings industry. The team at BASF has been instrumental in the growth of the event and their support allowed the party to expand to Los Angeles and beyond two years ago.  photos: Don Wood

Joining BASF as presenting and Championship Round partner were Falken Tires and TA YIH LightingBoth are first-time partners and selected the themes for Rounds 1 & 2.  Upstairs, the VIP room gave guests a few moments away from the hubub and was compliments of our longest continuous partner, Lacks  Enterprises.  photo: Trista Dymondmsb2019 - web-73

Covestro and Linkage Design have also supported the event over multiple events, both companies being well-know supporters of the automotive design community. photos: Don Wood

Before we review the rounds we should also take a moment and visit The Shelter in the basement where an art show was held.  Local artists were invited to display their artwork in the same place made famous by Eminem in the movie 8 Mile.               Read more about the artists here.  photos credit: Ingo Rautenberg

On the stage was a display of “art cars” constructed by famous artists from around the country.  The “art cars” were available for a silent auction and the evening saw the bids rise as party guests competed for the chance to own the original works by Camilo Pardo, Jay Shuster from  Star Wars, airbrush artist Bob Soroka and local graffiti legend Sheefy McFly. photos credit: Ingo Rautenberg

The amount of quality prospective sketchers always causes a significant problem for founder Brook Banham in choosing the 16 battlers. (NOTE visit to read the rules and submit to become a contestant at a future event).  For Sketchbattle 15 the top 15 were confirmed (read the bios here) and the top remaining entrants were placed into an online poll to choose the 16th and final contestant. 49735165_2024697080950553_669843129548931072_n

Davis Kunselman of the College for Creative Studies (CCS) won the online competition and joined defending champion from Sketchbattle 14 in Las Vegas, Omar Gonzalez and previous Sketchbattle 9 Detroit winner Casey Swanseger. The remaining contestants were listed as alternates in order of their finishing position in case any confirmed entrant was not able to make the event due to travel issues.  Those alternates were Dhruv Veerkar, Ankit Ukil, Donghwa Shin, Marcus Jones and Naheem Browne, all students at CCS.

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Ankit Util and Marcus Jones prepare in case they are called up   photo: Trista Dymond

Just like Olympic athletes stretching before an event, the sketch-battlers arrived early with supplies in hand.  Many started sketching before the doors opened while others socialized to rid themselves of the nervous energy.

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The life of a designer can get lonely.                                                           photo: Trista Dymond

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Hyunhong Jo arrives early to “stretch”                                                           photo: Trista Dymond

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Jess Petrach of Aptiv relaxes before the competition starts.              photo: Trista Dymond

Middlecott Sketchbattle Experiment 15

Middlecott Sketchbattle Experiment 15

Pre event Judge/Contestant Meeting                                                photos: Ingo Rautenberg

Before the battlers were introduced and made their way into the arena, DJ Emily Thornhill paused the beats while ring announcer Terry Ayrault introduced the judges. photo Ingo RautenbergMiddlecott Sketchbattle Experiment 15

The Panel of judges for the evening spanned the Detroit automotive scene (from left to right) Ryan Nagode/Head of Interior Design for Dodge and Ram, Adam Rabinowitz/Chief Exterior Designer Calty Toyota, Jeff Hammoud/Vice President  Design for Rivian Automotive and Chief Judge Helen Emsley/Executive Director for Global Buick and GMC Design at General Motors                            photo credit: Trista Dymondmsb2019 - web-161

Sketchbattle 15 was new in many ways as for the first time the contestants were ranked according to past event performance.  New unranked contestants were introduced first as they entered the arena one-by-one to theme music:  4 professionals; Ryan Root/Ford/USA, Nick Wilson/Ford/USA, Drake Nolte/Bombardier /Canada, Jess Petrach/Aptiv/USA, and 4 students Joshua Bundo/USA, Davis Kunselman/ USA and Hyunhong Jo/South Korea, Sung Kwon Go/South Korea, all of CCS.    You can read a short bio and see their submissions here.  all photos credit Ingo Rautenberg.

They were followed by the 8 ranked contestants (in order).  Greg Henderson/Canada, Aurel Francois/Faurecia/France, Aaron Hughes/Utah, Andres Bastidas/Colombia/LTU, Boris Schwarzer/Ford/Russia, Ricky Ryan Goimarac/McLaren/Colombia, Casey Swanseger/Ohio/Cleveland and Omar Gonzalez/Mexico/Art Center photos Ingo Rautenberg and Trista Dymond

Omar then joined the stage for his traditional “dance” before sketching.  Here is a video thanks to Erin Miracle. 

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Omar Gonzalez’s entry is typical of the two-time champion                            photo: Trista Dymond


The Contestants were following into the area by the Mobsteel Title Belt      photo: Charles Ruggles

Referee Satori Circus gave the contestants a summary of the rules and with a ring of the bell, the sketching commenced. The rules for Sketchbattle are on our webpage and the themes for all the rounds can be found here.

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Referee Satori Circus gives pre-fight instructions                                photo: Trista Dymond

The theme for Round 1 was to sketch a future concept vehicle incorporating Falken Tires.  The judges would make a decision on who moves on to the second round based on how well the contestants sketched and how well they incorporated Falken’s passion for Motorsports. photo credit: Ingo Rautenberg

The round had a 30 minute time limit and of the 16 contestants who started, it was expected that 8 would get knocked out, leaving only 8 to make it to the second round.  And with a ring of the bell, we were off.  All photos below by Trista Dymond.

Once the round ended, the results were posted on the sketch wall

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Event Manager Erin and the glue that holds it all together, Judith, present the Round 1 sketches    photo: Trista Dymond

The judging panel selected the first few pretty quickly, but got hung up on the 8th contestant to make it through. photo credits Trista Dymond

Chief Judge Helen Emsley made the executive decision to allow an extra contestant to go forward as nine Round 2 contestants were announced;

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(L to R) Casey Swanseger, Boris Schwarzer, Sung Kwan Go, Jess Petrach, Ricky Ryan Goimarac, Omar Gonzalez, Adres Bastidas, Drake Nolte and Greg Henderson. photo credit: Ingo Rautenberg

Before the 2nd round Michael Suchara from Lacks Enterprises presented an award for the Sketchbattle 12 Detroit winner Shubham Singh.  The Team at Lacks worked with Cadatonic to take the winning sketch from 2018 and convert it into a full 3D model.  As Singh is currently in Japan on an internship, Paul Snyder of The College for Creative Studies accepted the award on his behalf.  Snyder commented that the model will sit in his office until Singh returns in case any students want to see it.

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Paul Snyder/CCS accepts the award for Singh from Michael Suchara/Lacks photos: Trista Dymond

msb2019 - web-486In the second round the theme switched to lighting courtesy of TA YIH Lighting.  TA YIH produces a range of highly advanced large and small exterior lamps in Taiwan and China, as well as interior lamps.  They are currently supplying lamps for FCA and the Sketchbattle was the perfect location to announce they are looking to add other customers in North America.               photos Trista Dymond and Ingo Rautenberg.

With another 30 minute sketching round the objective was to narrow the field to four for the Championship Round.   photos: Trista Dymond

After each round the Sketchbattle staff collect all the sketches, make sure they are properly stamped and the sketchers have entered their names, and then they are posted on the custom-designed magnetic Sketch Walls    photo: Trista DymondMSB2019 - web-390.jpgmsb2019 - web-604

The judges learned quickly and the process was substantially easier than the first round as the final four were selected in short order.


Sketchbattle Partner Frank Schwartz and judges judging                    photo: Michael Karesh

Design is a diverse skill, and auto makers tend to search the world for talent.   The four remaining contestants represented that diversity well as the sketchers were from 4 different Universities; College for Creative Studies, Lawrence Tech, Art Center and Cleveland and 4 different countries, Mexico, South Korea, Colombia and the US.

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(L to R) Sketchbattle Founder Brook Banham with the Championship Round contestants Casey Swanseger, Sung Kwon Go, Andraes Bastidas and Omar Gonzalez   photo: Trista Dymond

The Championship Round started right on time at 10:15pm.   The round featured a new color developed by Paul Czornij of BASF just for the SKetchbattle:  Aurora Gold.  Contestants were asked to sketch whatever vehicle the color inspired. photos: Ingo Rautenberg

Another 30 minutes and a winner would be found.

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At 11 o’clock the awards were announced.  Brazen Sports, the official timekeeper of the Sketchbattle provided a watch to award to the winner of the People’s Choice.


Brazen Sports is the official timekeeper of the Sketchbattle    photo: Charles Ruggles

Guests at the party were allowed to vote during the evening for the one contestant whose sketch was deemed by them to be the best.  Jess Petrach was voted the People’s Choice Champion.

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Jess Petrach receives the Brazen Sports Watch as  People’s Choice          photo: Ingo Rautenberg

There were also door prizes to be awarded.  Signed artwork from John Frye, Sketchbattle 8 Los Angeles winner was awarded to Aaron Brown. And artwork from Sketchbattle founder Brook Banham was awarded to Maxwell Blatt, a design student at Lawrence Tech.  Banham’s artwork is currently on display at the Detroit Athletic Club if you want to see more of this talented guy’s work up close. photos Ingo Rautenberg

Doris Gilles was invited on stage to receive a “blank check” from Sketchbattle partners Brook Banham and Frank Schwartz.  Final results are still being tallied but between the donations the guests made at the door and the results from the pedal car silent auction were around $7,000 for Project Beautiful. photos: Charles, Ingo and Trista

Finally it was time to award the Check for $2,500 and title belt from Mobsteel to the winner, and new champion Sketchmaster.  The Judges gathered on stage and gave the win to ………..


Chief Judge Helen Emsley announces the winner                           photo Trista Dymond

Sung Kwon Go, student at the College for Creative Studies

Sung is the first winner from South Korea.  We asked him for a few words after the event. Here is what he had to say:  “For the last round, the brief was Aurora gold. It made me think of which car would fit to this color.  It was not a micro car was not a suv or crossover. I thought a futuristic super luxury vehicle would be a best fit. I tried to design a vehicle that would express that and gave aurora gold finish to emphasize the luxurious feel.”


Sung poses with his team from CCS outside St Andrews after the win              photo: Charles Ruggles

Brook and I would like to thank our awesome staff for a memorable event.

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Sketchbattle Partner Frank Schwartz and Founder Brook Banham           photo: Trista Dymond

Judith Banham as the glue that keeps everything together, Erin our event manager, Sarah with Social Media and Destiny, Ring Girl/manager of the registration staff.  Great tunes all night by DJ Emily and graphics were live from Master DeMaggio.  Nemo managed our streaming, Terry our Ring Announcer and Satori Circus our referee.  And Kent and Tony for helping setup and Aurel and Nyko for helping take down.  all photos Trista Dymond and Ingo Rautenberg

There have been 15 Sketchbattles so far and the countdown starts soon for the next event – hope to see you all there.

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The History of Sketchbattle was displayed around St Andrews          photo: Ingo Rautenberg

In the mean time here are two albums of the event from out fantastic photographers; Charles Ruggles, Don Wood, Ingo Rautenberg, Michael Karesh and Trista Dymond.  If you borrow and post a picture of yourself, please make sure to give credit to #sketchbattle and the photographer.

Details are listed in the album to help identify which photographers took which photos.

Album 1

Album 2

Join the countdown to the next Sketchbattle where we start the process to find the next Sketchmaster.



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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1 Response to Sketchbattle 15 Winners!

  1. Sean Patrick Halpin says:

    Keep it going Frank!! Nice work.

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