- ABOUT US _ Drive is an Automotive Design Consultancy building long term relationships with design-driven companies worldwide, designing products that enhance their brand's DNA and position in the market place.
Mark Przeslawski gives some car designer portfolio advice on what a graduate designer’s portfolio should contain –
I often get reminded, that design is all about opinion, so here’s mine on the dark and scary world of job applications. So you can take some of it on board, all of it on board or none at all and prove me wrong.
It’s the age old and favourite past time of anyone seeking a career in the automotive industry, the application phase. From designers to alias modellers, we are all aware that our industry doesn’t tend to favour the conventional CV and cover letter with a careful placement of buzz words/phrases like ‘I can manage a team of people and take on individual responsibilities’. Although these are areas we all have to consider, at the end of the day, the dreaded ‘P’ word is what we are all thinking right now….your Portfolio. So let’s start with my do’s and don’ts of the most important aspect of an application.
Know who you are applying to
If all you have is speed boats and lawn mowers in your portfolio then I would say it is quite rare that an automotive studio will consider you. Research the studio / brand and try your best to think of what they might look for in a candidate.
“You are only as good as your worst piece of work”. This cannot be said enough, and I wish someone had told me this at university too! As a designer especially, your portfolio will mainly be put under the eyes of other designers, we love looking at them, we want to be excited, we want to see that sketch or render that inspires us and then we will want you! So let‘s throw away lifeless package drawings of translucent, colour filled boxes that say “batteries” or “motors”, and the 97.5 percentile Dutch males that you’ve squashed into your vehicle, we can save all this for when we actually have to face reality, when designing a real car for manufacture (and you may not even have to worry about this).
Keep your projects to a minimum, we see 56 page portfolios with about 10 projects in. These are too big to keep/capture our attention for the period of time it would take to digest that amount of information / wade through it. We are designers ourselves and therefore have to design things and unfortunately you can’t spend all day every day looking at portfolios!
Discarding older projects
Now this is the hard bit, discarding older projects as your skills have improved …. nearly impossible to do sometimes as you probably hold emotions for each project as if they were your own child. They aren’t your children and they don’t have emotions, cut them out and be brutal. Do it, cut it down, get through it. Even if you are left with 3 projects, this will the make us think that you can do everything of this level.
From my own experience as a Coventry graduate, cut out the following 1. Clay head project 2. Any ergonomics based project with lights that reflect your mood 3. An alias model or render which is then repeated in different colours to show colour choices up to 5-6 times (padding out your portfolio?).
Variations of design work.
The tricky creative taboo topic, difficult to answer without causing a whole world of design debates and potential Ted talks animosity establishing what design is and how we should approach it. Try to mix it up, don’t just have 3 projects of space ships and fantastic speed painting art work, show that side of you by all means it’s great to see, however try and include some good old fashioned automotive design, displaying an understanding of surfacing, brand interpretation and proportion over 4 conventional wheels.
Your portfolio should be an extension of yourself, it should be presented in a way that you want it to be. Your style should be natural rather than something that is forced. Always be honest with the way that you work, whether you are all about hand sketching or a Photoshop wizard, show how you work as we all have different ways we do things.
A great way to stay sharp, get your name out there and they really keep you on your toes. Polestar, the Michelin design challenge and interior motives to name but a few, the briefs are usually fun, and if it is not fun then you need to twist their brief to do so! No one wants to design something boring in their spare time. These usually have no engineering requirement, package constraints or a need to convince university tutors to what you are doing, go forth and have fun!
Keep it simple, if you don’t have that much to show it’s ok, we have all been in your shoes at some point and we don’t expect to see years of experience from a student. Whatever you do, please don’t write that you have been ‘freelancing’, unless you can back it up with examples to prove you haven’t just living at home with your parents with a part time job. Better to say you have been working on your portfolio and design competitions in an evening, but again you have to back it up with the evidence!
Self Rating Charts
My last thought on this topic, which I could probably continue to preach about for another hour whilst I annoy my colleagues by seemingly moaning endlessly is this …. the self-rating skill charts! Now I’m not sure what the universities have been preaching to the students of late, but here’s my number one pointless thing to put in your portfolio if you are applying to be a designer or alias modeller. Grading yourself out of 10, maybe out of 5 stars even and stating how good you are at alias, photoshop, design or sketching ……
It won’t be right, it will probably annoy someone in the studio that you have sent it to. The idea of your portfolio or data you send is that we will be working this out, and deciding the level we see you as and if we feel you are right for said particular studio position. Whatever you do, please don’t include ‘football’ as a skill set, to which you then score yourself higher on this than any other design skills. Makes me think you should be a professional footballer instead! (NOTE: Only exception is if you are applying to Drive where your karting lap times are important)
I hope this helps you in all your applications
Have an opinion
Get a photo of you applying a tape to a clay model or sketching – it shows your personality without a passport type image.
Be protective over your pen
Talk about sketches with emotions and feelings
Never be truly happy with your work
Keep portfolios to no bigger than 5mb (if possible)
Drive will be happy to look at your cv / portfolio and advise how to improve it and give yourself the best opportunity of securing your dream job.
Searching for Automotive Designer recruitment agencies? With the continued growth of online databases such as LinkedIn has recruitment become so simple anyone can do it – making agencies redundant?
We believe this isn’t the case and indeed the role of a good recruitment specialist is even more important for both a business and the person seeking a new role.
With a large proportion of people on LinkedIn connected to 3,000+ individuals it is assumed that if they post an advert then, miraculously, they will have the right person apply or an individual will see the advert for the position they crave. In most cases the right person doesn’t spend their time sitting on-line to see the job post sandwiched between the adverts and ‘if 5 dogs = Banana, what is **? ‘.
Advertising every position on your website is also an option but brings in multiple applications which can make meaningful applicants harder to spot.
At drive our approach is more targeted – we are not looking to fill 500 positions. We aim to match the experience and talents of design personnel with the desire’s of industry’s leading design teams; we are also looking to support our valued clients (individuals and companies) by matching personalities, talent and experience with the right roles.
We believe in discussing candidates’ cv, portfolio and dream role with them and using our experience to advise them how to adapt what and how they present to potential employers. Thus giving themselves the best possible chance of succeeding.
Being trusted advisors to some of the world’s most prestigious automotive studios and influential individuals, we take our responsibilities seriously and realise that our reputation is dependent on these relationships. Using our personal approach we understand the studio’s aims, select the correct personalities with relevant professional expertise to ensure a successful working relationship for both the studios and individuals alike.
Thoughts and musings after an amazing Goodwood Festival of Speed 2022
Goodwood, on a sunny Friday, is possibly the best way to end a week. Aside from seeing Wayne Rainey ride again (that in itself was worth the ticket price) this year’s Goodwood was a marvellous celebration of the past, the present and the future. Charge had their ’67 fastback Mustang, complete with 21st Century interior and power train, the reborn electric Renault 5 was sparkling and gleaming at the heart of Electric Avenue, and the McMurtry Speirling fan-car set a mind-boggling time of 39.08 seconds to get up the hill.
Electric Avenue this year was wall-to-wall OEM, showing how far the adoption has come since the first Tesla Roadster kick-started it all, and how far the technology has moved forward. The likes of KIA, Citroen, Renault, BMW, Volvo, Vauxhall, Skoda and Ford all had their latest EV models on show, compact sleek designs offering enormous cabins space and, most importantly, charge-range that will not induce heart palpitations for any journey over a significant distance.
The ‘new faces’ in Electric Avenue were the likes of Fisker with their Ocean SUV, ElectraMeccanica with their Solo EV, the Lucid Air and a dazzle-camo Polestar 5 – the production version of the Precept revealed at last year’s Goodwood. The new R5 from Renault, like many re-launched models, is considerably bigger than its predecessor, while conversely both the Fisker Ocean and Lotus Eletre were slightly smaller than I anticipated, in a rather refreshing way.
At the Gensis stand was the outstanding X Speedium, while in the ‘First Glance Paddock’ the G80 sat alongside Charge’s ’67 Fastback Mustang, the Rivian R1T, and an Alpine A110 Tour de Course 75.
The thing that really struck me this year though was how many new technologies were on display – new manufacturing processes, new materials (both for exterior and interior), even a new fuel system in the form of the Viritech Apricale with an amazing lightweight hydrogen fuel cell platform. Traditionally hydrogen power cells have been heavy units designed to extend BEV platforms. Viritech’s approach flipped that on its head and introduced lightweight composite and resin fuel cells, reducing the demand on rare minerals for the battery and significantly reducing weight to an astonishing sub-1000kg.
The Czinger 21C’s aluminium and magnesium components are all 3D printed, and the design team utilised AI to help determine which materials to use and where. While this may be one of a few hybrid cars on show this year, the adoption of 3d printing and AI in the design process could well be a game-changer in how the industry does things in the future.
Polestar presented the Polestar 5 – the ‘precept’ turned into a production model – that uses natural fibres in the composites rather than carbon, and the O2 Roadster where their design team adopted an entirely new approach to delivering a sustainable product, abandoning multi-material construction where possible and embracing mono-materials; instead of multiple materials that all present challenging recycling options, interior components, like the dash, are formed out of one piece of thermos-plastic that can be recycled again and again and again.
The Fisker Ocean is aiming to be the most eco-friendly car in the market. With an earth-friendly vegan interior that relies heavily on recycled products mainly sourced from the sea (hence the name) ranging from plastics and rubber to old t-shirts and ghost-nets. A SolarSky roof harvests energy while driving to power the car, and even rolls back alongside all the windows (yep – even the back window) when in “California mode” to let the breeze just flow through the car. Note to dog owners – keep Rover tethered, an open rear window is an enticing escape route.
All this leads me to the title – the power of “And”. Throughout the day I found myself having exciting, positive, optimistic conversations with people. They were seeing amazing products coming as a result of design teams engaging with the concepts and principles of circular-design. Striving to ‘create’ without leaving a trace, and without exception there was a feeling that all of the solutions being presented had a valid voice contributing to the conversation. EV is not the only route, as the Viritech showed. Natural-fibre composites and mono-materials offer a much simpler recycling path. 3D printed components mean less waste in production. Ethically sourced and managed supply lines sit side-by-side with recycled materials in placing no strain on fossil resources. I didn’t get the impression that any one of these things is a magic bullet, more that our way forward will require all of these things and many new ones.
Added together, they offer something greater than any one could achieve on its own. Very much a case of “And….not Or”.
Goodwood’s Estate also contains Rolls-Royce Motor Cars
Designing a car for kids is not very different from designing a real one! The dedication, design process, attention to detail and final car quality are identical!
When Craig from Kiddy Cars approached us he had a very clear business idea of what he wanted, but no understanding of what goes into turning that idea into a real product.
This is where our team were able to bring all their experience to the project and help guide him through the process. From initial brief, concept sketch, packaging, engineering, digital modelling, prototypes and final product as well as marketing material. Every step was a learning curve and important to reduce the risk element at each stage. Through clear communication everyone was on board and there was no unexpected hurdles, delays or costs at the next stage.
Various production methods had to be explored and their individual characteristics necessitating design revisions, be it mould splits or part fitments.
Even the Christmas Marketing Video was undertaken at Drive, so a complete service.
“Mark, There was never a moment when you weren’t there for me throughout all this – nothing was a problem – any issue you just simply worked your way around. The professionalism shown by you & Chris to me combined with the committed, pleasure to deal with culture that all the team at Drive have, has made this client (even a very small and unbranded client such as me) unbelievably grateful to you. You stayed with me, cared and I appreciate it wholeheartedly. The new design is now the face of the brand…… I’ll never call you during the design process ever again – just call me when it’s done.”
Craig Beswick – Kiddy Cars
Over the last 25 years, visualisation teams have relied heavily on a lot of computing power to render animations, and Drive’s experience has developed with the technology and we now create cg animations for automotive advertising.
Not so long ago an animation of a minute or so, might take days to output on dozens of computers packed out in air conditioned server rooms. Once the rendering is done, a whole load of post production has to be done afterwards to fine tune and colour grade too. Hold on a minute, not quite right? Need a last minute change? The product has been updated? Back to the farm it goes for another couple of days.
But the new technology gives us the opportunity to refine the output and deliver a higher quality animation becausese we are able to make adjustments closer to the cut off deadline.
In my previous blog explaining the creation of the scene, here , I showcased a few images I put together in Unreal of my favourite Mclaren, the 720s. Following on from this, I’ve now produced an animation with the camera pans, edit and tonal adjustments all refined in Unreal and outputted in near real time.
Beyond that, the scene is ready for interaction for a configurator or Virtual Reality?
CG images can be used to help promote a car manufacturer’s products, and these two have been screened grabbed from the above animation.
Every shot created is different and every car has certain angles that show it off at its best, Drive’s team of creative visualisers and automotive designers combine to create and ensure great results.