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Former/Current Car/Industrial Designers Out There?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Carnutofthedecade, Nov 11, 2008.

  1. Inspired by Ryan's post this morning and a couple of the replies, I am curious..............

    Any former or current car/industrial designers out there?

    I studied Industrial Design with a major in Transportation Design at the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles and later on in Pasadena California from February of 1975 through June of 1977.

    Strother MacMinn, Harry Bradley, Joe Farrer, Old Joe Thompson, Keith Teter and of course Ted Youngkin were all instructors who taught me the ways and hows of "Good Design".

    After several years, I ended up designing cars at Pininfarina in Italy (Ferraris, Alfa Romeos, Audi) in 1980, the first American there since the Mid-Sixties. Lot's of fun; they treated me like royalty! I ended up designing museums and trade shows when I was forced to close my business and end my career due to a disability 12 years ago.
  2. the duke
    Joined: Feb 24, 2003
    Posts: 295

    the duke

    I'm graduating in industrial design from the college for creative studies here in detroit, this spring. So I almost count, lots of art center guys here teaching.

  3. Would love to hear some stories from those guys...
  4. ynottayblock
    Joined: Dec 23, 2005
    Posts: 1,954


    Its funny I brought up this topic in the FAST group, since I noticed there are quite a few industrial designers here on the HAMB. I studied industrial design at humber college in Toronto with the intentions of going to CCS in detroit, but in the end I couldnt afford it (CCS) and ended up getting into designing sports equipment and really couldnt be happier. I always wondered why so many industrial designers are into traditional hot rods, since industrial designers are few and far between to begin with but we have quite a few on board here.

    oh and carnutofthedecade I envy you for getting the chance to be taught by Harry Bradley, that guy is a hero of mine
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  5. pimpin paint
    Joined: May 31, 2005
    Posts: 4,964

    pimpin paint
    from so cal

  6. Cyclone Kevin
    Joined: Apr 15, 2002
    Posts: 3,560

    Cyclone Kevin
    Alliance Vendor

    Transportation design is why I went the way of automobile technology. I wished that I had enough drawing talent to be able to get in to Art Center.
    Instead got in the pilot ASEP program through GM and was on the wrenching side.
    Always felt that cars could have been better designed much like the cars that I was driving to school/work. Always a fan/friend of Thom Taylor and other Hot Rod designers that changed the way that we percieved them in the 80's.

    A good design always stays timeless.
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2008
  8. I attended Art Center '59 -'63. Major in trans and minor in product as I thought it would be neat to stay in CA. (No car studios out there at that time). Ended up taking an offer from Ford, and stayed until retirement in '02. Enjoyed many different assignments, including Australia and Germany, leading or directing design efforts. When I tour the Design Center these days it is great to see the new technology that allows designers to be so creative and much more productive.
    Enjoyed every day, and it never seemed like work.

  9. Cool! I'd love to see some of your work from back in the Sixties. I decided at the age of nine (1964) that I wanted to design cars professionally. Seemed like every day/year that passed I wished that I was at least ten if not fifteen years older, as I felt like I was missing out on all of the cool design stuff happening in Detroit and overseas during the Sixties!

    By the time I got to Art Center in 1975, Detroit was in a major slump (like now)and we all felt like there probably wouldn't be any work after we got out. The I.D. department felt like a morgue; quite somber! Other majors were always giving us Trans majors grief about "styling", and Detroit boats, etc. We always told them that it was the Trans department that made Art Center what it was in terms of its reputation as a top quality design school!
  10. That is one of life's greatest gifts when work doesn't seem like work...most days here at our shop are, thank God, that way
  11. Nix66
    Joined: Aug 27, 2007
    Posts: 92

    from Detroit

    i attended CCS and graduated in 2005 with a degree in Industrial Design. It was a lot of work and was stupid expensive but i wouldnt change a thing. it was an awesome experience, but a very demanding school. Fortunatly i still have a job at one of the big three. everyday is scary here. but we just do our job and try to stay busy.

    i have learned a lot from a lot of the old timers here and wouldnt be into hot rodding if it wasnt for them. we have lost a lot of them in the last 2 weeks to retirement. not by choice for a majority of them. knowledge that we will never get back. my boss had been here for 42 years. they have seen it all. if there is one thing i have learned in the last few months is try and gain as much knowledge as you can from the guys that have been around for ever and not get caught up in the the bull sh!t games that all the younger people try to play. these guys wont and arent around for much longer. they want to pass down the things they have learned through the years and i am just glad to be here to try and learn as much as i can. both at work and outside of work.
  12. Tuck
    Joined: May 14, 2001
    Posts: 5,352

    Tech Editor
    from MINNESOTA
    1. Early Hemi Tech

    I went to Stout for Industrial design... Kazenhammer here on the hamb did too-
    not a automotive-focused school... mainly product design, but we would work in as much auto related projects as we could.

    I went to school for autobody before that- 2yr tech.

    I loved the hands on training at tech much more... there was a lot of stuff I took in college that at the time I thought was a waste of time... but looking back I do use, and it did round off my edges...

    There was a reputation that went with being a ID student at Stout too... everyone knew it was a hard program.

  13. Tbomb428
    Joined: Aug 18, 2006
    Posts: 506

    from SoCal

    Any former or current car/industrial designers out there?

    Yep, me too. Although to use a Pro Football analogy, I'm not a starting QB (exterior designer), rather I'd consider myself to be on the special teams. I design the accessories and wheels and such. Like in part one of Ryans '50 Ford film, one of the guys doing the detail stuff.

    I agree with 63fdsnr and his comment "Enjoyed every day, and it never seemed like work." Getting to be around car development when you're a true car nut is fun, not work.

    And regarding Nix66's comments, one of my good friends is a designer at Ford and is sweating bullets every day. He's witnessed many layoffs lately, but so far he's OK.

    By the time I went to ACCD, Strother MacMinn and Joe Ferrar were mostly retired but would come in part time to help out. I remember Strother stopping by my clay model one weekend when I was there working on my 5th term clay and he was telling me to push the curves more, make it "more sexy". Also, one memory of Joe was when he was helping me with that same clay model on the C pillar that I'd been fighting with for 3 hours. Since he was old at the time, his hands were very shaky and I was scared for my work. However, once his hands got within 2 inches of the clay the shaking stopped and the master went to work. In 10 minutes he fixed what was taking me hours to figure out. I feel lucky to have spoken with them and gained at least a little of their experience. They're both gone now.
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2008
  14. Harry was really cool and had a great sense of humor! While growing up in the Sixties, I used to read Strother MacMinn's articles and look at Harry's renderings in Motor Trend so it was great to have had them as instructors!

    Harry was always telling us of his adventures (read shenanigans) at GM, such s the time that he and another designer got a hold of a GMC Titan truck on the Black Lake and ended up flipping it on its side.

    During class he was one of the few instructors there who would actually let you see his work. I still have several of his sketches that he did for me to show me how a design of mine should really look.
  15. Joe's hands were always shaking! By the time modeling class started, Joe was on his kazillionth cup of coffee and cigarette (you were allowed to smoke in class back then).

    When I started in '75, we were still at the old campus on Third Street in Los Angeles. Because of the cramped quarters, Joe wouldn't let any student operate the power machinery, so if you need some wood cut, you'd grab Joe and ask him to cut it. He'd put his cig in his mouth, eyes squinting from the smoke, grab your piece of wood, turn on the saw, and cut. We always thought it was amazing that he still had all of his fingers!

    Joe could be pretty stern, particularly during crits, but occasionally you could loosen him up. I remember at a party thrown by a Graphic Design major (graphic design and photography majors always threw the best parties!), Joe and Rosa, his future wife whom he was having an affair with at the time, were both at the party, Joe drinking Tecate, and the both of them cutting up the rug to the disco music! It was quite fun watching the two of them dance!
  16. Sscott55
    Joined: Apr 21, 2004
    Posts: 51

    from Ojai

    Art Center grad 2003

    and Harry Bradley was my viscom teacher

    Carnutofthedecade - send me a PM, we live in the same small town!
  17. Erik B
    Joined: Sep 4, 2006
    Posts: 1,409

    Erik B

    I was at Art Center from 82 to 86. I have a lot of stories from then- Ted Younkin, Harry Bradley, Joe Farrer, Stewart Reed and Strother McMinn. Designing cars again- electric this time. Good to offset the hot rod pollution! haha!

    There is that primal and elemental aspect of hot rods that speaks to me more than most modern cars. I do have fun designing cars that are a meld of the 2 worlds. Someday I may build one.
  18. That's the WORD: P-R-I-M-A-L! Elemental is another! Modern
    "cars" just don't capture that feeling; everything is so isolating. They feel like you are driving a computer rather than a machine. Everything is artificial from the feel of the steering to the sound coming out of the exhaust!
  19. I'm an Industrial Design graduate. 1997 from Monash University here in Melbourne. My major was Transportation design and I did well, but everyone I met actually working was a complete wanker (except for one guy, Leo Pruneau...he was pretty cool)! Nobody really seemed like a car person. I subsequently work in the packaging and point-of-sale industry and haven't picked up a Copic since I left uni.
  20. Erik B
    Joined: Sep 4, 2006
    Posts: 1,409

    Erik B

    You ain't kidding, brotha! I like the feeling of having a machine whirling away under my control rather than a computer assisted plastic blob.

    Give me the mix of materials and finishes that old cars have along with the direct controls to command and I'm a happy guy. Hot rods and customs take those elements and crank them up.
  21. 50Fraud
    Joined: May 6, 2001
    Posts: 9,746


    I was a trans major at Art Center '59-'62 -- the old 3rd St campus -- with a year out in the middle to work in Europe at BMW and Frank Costin. Didn't graduate or end up in Detroit, but worked on toy cars a lot: Mattel, Tomy, Aurora, Cox, Tonka, Galoob. Retired in '03 as VP Design on Hot Wheels.

    My ACS (pre-ACCD) instructors included MacMinn, Jorgenson, Jergensen, Collier, Farrer, Youngkin. Mac was the most passionate enthusiast of the bunch, and remained a friend for the rest of his life. Syd Mead was in his last semester when I was in my first; some of my classmates were Ira Gilford, Peter Stacy, Dave Stollery, Wayne Cherry, Bob Hubbach -- all of whom ended up in Detroit for at least a few years.

    That school was an amazing experience. Working inside real companies seemed like vacation by comparison!
  22. Designerjim
    Joined: Dec 15, 2008
    Posts: 1


    I was a Trans major at Art Center from 1958 to 1962, before going to GM.

    In 1981 I visited LA and met Mac at Calty as he finished work. We had dinner, and he drove me to the Cunningham Museum, where Briggs let him sleep on a cot the days he was down there from Pasadena. He unlocked the front door and turned on the lights, and I spent about two hours sitting in virtually every wonderful car in the place! Unforgettable!

    Jim Ferron
  23. WQ59B
    Joined: Dec 14, 2005
    Posts: 570


    This hardly qualifies: went to CCS my first year ('pre-Industrial') in '84-85, got shot out with rest of the dazed, over-enrolled freshmen. Was told my stuff was too retro. Ended up going with VisCom & worked 11 years in graphic design on a monthly illustrated mag for the Army. Homer LaGassey was one of the guys @ CCS, then, among others. At the time, I did not kno he worked on the '50s Wildcat showcars.
  24. Sure it qualifies; your a designer aren't you?
  25. WQ59B
    Joined: Dec 14, 2005
    Posts: 570


    Professionally, yes; a graphic designer (or was: currently doing home renovation)... just not an automotive / industrial designer.
    It was a bad time to try and get in, anyways - I was born 'bout 35 yrs too late.
  26. Vorhese
    Joined: May 26, 2004
    Posts: 766


    Graduated product design at Ohio State 1999. Worked at IBM for a few years in Austin, took some time off and concentrated on improving my fine art skills,. had a tattoo apprenticeship in New York and then Ohio. Moved to Cali, worked at Acad of Art design shop for a while, now working in California as a CAD monkey... sorely missing real creative design. I go home and cry.
    Some of my stuff
    Design (not updated in a loooong time):
  27. Chopt 34
    Joined: Jan 20, 2002
    Posts: 685

    Chopt 34

    I went to ACCD from 82-86 and graduated with a Transportation Major. I had a GM scholarship so that helped me get through the expense.
    It was a thrill to have Harry Bradley as an instructor, he was my idol and extrememly influential in my eary days growing up. Of course the other icons that were already mentioned such as Strother McMinn, Ted Younkin and Joe Ferrar. One of my most memorable opportunities came about when I took a summer to work for Mark Sterenberger & Alan Clenet in Santa Barbara. It was there I had the opportunity to meet Alex Tremulis, he had stories that not only amazed me, but he had an incredible sense of humor.

    Eric, it looks like we were at the Pasadena campus at the same time? I am also from Oregon, we must have crossed paths? While I was at ACCD, I had some goofy cars (not many hot rod types at that time).
    I had the light blue Karman Ghia with the flared fenders and Buick V6 in the back and a pearl red Type III fast back. After selling those I got my Z28 Camaro out of storage and drove that the last couple of trimesters, it was black, flared (it was the 80's guys!) with a tilt front end.
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2012
  28. Very interesting thread! I really respect and admire those of you who took the time and effort to educate youtselves in the design field. What a great way to make a living and hope that the current economy doesn't get you. What is truly amazing is the way the tools of the art and trade have changed.
    Keep up the great work.
  29. theflame
    Joined: Jan 24, 2008
    Posts: 169


    I think this thread is kinda wasted without examples of all your guys work...
  30. BiggMike
    Joined: Sep 25, 2008
    Posts: 204


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