Sketchbattle Pro #19 CES-uccessful

Since its inception, the Sketchbattle series of events have evolved and grown from a small intimate cocktail party and sketching competition to a significant and critically important stop at major events around the country.  2019 demonstrated the first Sketchbattle Jr™ event, our initiative to bring design education and opportunities to 12-18 year-olds and their parents.  This year we will launch our Sketchbattle Team™ series of events where students from colleges compete for the Sketchbattle Cup.  But our first event of 2020 was the Sketchbattle Pro™ #19 Las Vegas at CES. Considering the scope of the Consumer Electronics Show, the event featured our second ever non-automotive themes which built on the successful launch at Xponential 2019 in Chicago.  _MG_4830


Sketchbattle Pro competitions feature contestants sketching a pre-determined theme for a set time live in front of the audience over several rounds a la a boxing match.  Hence the tagline “The Fight Club of Design”.   After each round the sketches and designs are presented on a display wall and evaluated by a panel of expert industry judges for sketch quality and adherence to the given theme. 

_MG_4813Based on their scores, the judges then eliminate roughly half of the contestants, who then move on to the next round.  In the Championship Round (final round), the score cards are reviewed and a single winner is chosen who is awarded the cash prize, a title belt, and is paid to attend the Sketchbattle of the Sketchmasters held annually in Detroit.



For the CES event, the theme for the first round was to conceive of an exterior design for the new Myers EV personal electric vehicle in 30 minutes or less.  The theme was important as Myers EV is looking for their production design for the prototype that is currently being constructed.   Our judges for the evening Alikhan Kuljavnov and Sue Neuhauser were joined by Myers EV’s President and CEO, Dana Myer to make the decision who would make it to the second round._MG_4744

After 15 minutes of deliberation, the judges made their decision and picked 8 of the 10 contestants to move on to the Second Round;


After reviewing the sketches based on sketch quality and adherence to the theme -manufactur-ability was a critical tie-breaker, here are the finalists in alphabetical order: Chris Greazel, Daney Chhang, Ezekiel Ring, Finn Yonkers, Javier Guerra, Matt Regnier, Scott Melanson, and Shubham Singh._MG_5030


With infrastructure being an important roadblock for mass adoption of EV’s, the Round 2 theme was sponsored by AACS, a business development , trend research and strategy consulting firm headquartered in Ann Arbor MI. with offices in California, Colorado and North Carolina..  The goal to consider electric charging designs that would generate consumer demand in much the same way oil companies used Art Deco to enhance the gas filling experience in the 50s._MG_4875

For round two the judges were joined by Joe Nuxoll, Director of Digital Design & Experience for Polaris and Indian Motorcycles.Prior to his role with Polaris, Nuxoll was was the lead UX designer for the in-vehicle infotainment system, aka the big 17″ touch screen and instrument cluster in the Model S and Model X, as well as the award winning mobile companion application for the Model S. His career also included stops at Apple and Sun Microsystems.Joe Nuxoll 0



After reviewing the sketches, the three judges picked the the 4 finalists, from left to right, Ezekial Ring, Shubham Singh, Finn  Yonkers, and Scott Melanson, two students from the College of Creative Studies and two professionals.



_MG_4954For the Championship Round, the four remaining contestants were given another 30 minutes to develop and sketch a personal electric flying craft of the future.

Copy of _MG_4665

The round was sponsored by MIDDLECOTT Design , an international design organization based in Detroit, Michigan. As Detroit’s premier design consultancy, MIDDLECOTT will supercharge your brand through its award-winning formula of high-octane design.

Levi Bilbrey 0The judges were joined for the final round by Levi Bilbrey, Manager, Creative Services for Bell aircraft.  Bilbrey is responsible for leading a team of forward-thinking creative problem solvers and storytellers who utilize new and emerging technology to design innovative aircraft concepts, craft thrilling customer experiences and uphold one of the most iconic brands in the aviation industry!  He is an energetic storyteller, creative director, project manager, relationship developer, marketing consultant, graphic designer, photographer, brand warrior, late night writer, husband, father, weekend yard worker, lifelong bacon lover, coffee evangelist, and technology junkie whose greatest passions are getting to know people, finding creative ways to help them solve complex challenges and tell inspiring stories!


The judging for the final round was much tougher than Round 1.  Instead of just picking which contestants would go through the judges were saddled with picking only one.


Two contestants were selected quickly, but after the initial review it took a long time for them to choose the eventual winner.  In the end we had our first winner from the Pratt Institute, Finn Yonkers from New York.


According to the judges, the winning sketch brought now just a lot of conversation about the design and quality of the sketching and the invocation of a Lotus 7 for the sky, but in the end the ideas of future possibilities like the rotors pivoting down and becoming wheels convinced them Yonker’s sketch was the winner.


Finn walked home with a cash award of $1,500. a title belt from Mobsteel, and the Middlecott Sketchbattle Experiment team will fly him to Detroit for the 2020 event to compete against the other champions from the past year.



Many thanks to our judges, LtoR Sue, Alikhan, (Frank was not a judge), Levi and Joe.judges

Thanks to our fantastic staff,without whom Brook and I could never manage an event.  Judith, Nemo, Jake, Erin and Destiny.

And thanks to our partners Myers EV for contributing the theme for Round 1.

The College for Creative Studies for their support and supporting their students by providing transportation to the event.

Covestro – Smarter cities for a brighter future.

Blick Art and Mattel Hot Wheels for providing the drawing and sketching supplies for the contestants and supporting our Sketchbattle Jr events.


Here are a few more pictures from the event:

Feel free to review the entire photo album here

_MG_4678The next event is scheduled for the April/May time frame.  Be sure to keep track of the tickets and how to be a contestant by following the news on our webpage at

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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