Art of Drive: Alan Derosier
Our Art of Drive series interviews artists, designers and photographers to find out what inspires them.
Please give our readers an introduction to who you are, where you are from, and what you do?
My name is Alan Derosier, I’m 27 years old and from a small town in the Britain countryside of France. I'm a car designer currently working in Shanghai, China, living with a strong passion for vintage aircooled VWs and Porsches.
When did you start drawing and how did your life as an artist/designer begin?
Both of my parents are amazing at drawing (my father is a garden architect and my mother used to paint a lot as a hobby) so I've been growing in a creative atmosphere. I've always been drawing as far as I can remember, my mother often told me about that funny story, when I was two years old, we were drawing with my older brother and he looked at my drawing and said to my mum "Mum, I give up drawing..."
I would say that my car design life as began in a different way from most of the others, I knew from the age of nine I wanted to be a car designer. At that time I didn't even know the term so I was actually saying "I want to draw the cars of the future," so I grew up with this idea in mind. When I was fifteen and had to take a decision of which way to take for my studies. Instead of going to a school of art, I thought I should know about the technical side of car, so I went to engineering school. The funny thing is I was scared of mechanical engineering before I thought I would never understand anything, that it was too complex, and now I just love everything about it and it has taken a big part of my life and free time. When I was seventeen my parents offered me a ‘71 super beetle that "only" needed an engine and transmission to be back on the road, but instead of that I dismantled it completely and started to modify it by myself in my parents garage. The result was a reinforced chassis with Porsche brakes, Renault transmission, Porsche 914 engine that I entirely build by myself, 911 meters, home made roll cage.... the car has never stopped evolving since then and now is waiting to receive a 250 hp 2.0L Subaru Boxer turbo.
It's after getting that engineering knowledge that I finally did a design school course in Torino, Italy for three years from 2009 to 2012.
Who and what have inspired you and influenced your work?
As many other young designers I would say Syd Mead, Daniel Simon, Marc Newson, the Eames brothers, Francoise Nielly. But from my engineer and air cooled and hot rod passion I would add Magnus Walker for his way of thinking and taste in his Porsche creations, Rod Emory (of Emory Motorsports) for his amazing restorations and outlaw creations, Rob Dickinson (of Singer vehicle design) for his precision and attention to details. Patrick Motorsports, Bobby Walden of Walden speedshop and the real famous Gene Winfield.
I've also worked in Japan for two years and I have to say It has influenced me a lot. Japanese culture and car culture are both really inspiring. As an influence from there I would say Kazunori Yamauchi-San, the creator of Gran Turismo for his ambition and life achievement is a big inspiration for me and Akira Nakai San who makes those outstanding RWB Porsches.
How would you describe your style and technique?
I love looking at how the light runs on the surfaces of cars. Ultimately, only light and shadows can describe the shapes of a car, I'm always analysing how it works to try to make my renders better and better. Metallic paint, flat paint, clear coat, plastic texture, chrome they all have a different interaction with the light and some are really hard to reproduce
Has your work style evolved over time?
I can tell it has evolved a lot from the beginning of my studies till now, over six to seven years. I think my experience in Japan brought me a lot, since Japanese designers are working more with photorealistic renderings, so I had to learn from my colleagues, that was really helpful.
Please take us through the thinking and creative process behind your sketches and renderings.
In my opinion it's a very different process between work and free time creations. Work is more stressful because you have to be selected from a variety of very talented guys so there is some pressure added. As free time it's relaxing and most of the time I already know what I want from the beginning, I have the final product in mind. For both processes I would say in my case it always starts with paper and ball pen, then depending of the project I'm thinking what is the attitude that I want to give to this car, so then come the proportion research sketches (usually on side views). Then I'm thinking which surface treatment (sharp, soft, product-style, sensual) this is usually determined both by the brand design language and the target customer, and then come the details. It's a very long yet interesting process.
Are you a production car enthusiast?
Yes I am, I'm looking a lot at cars in the street, analysing what make this car better looking than that one. The answer is usually proportions, you realise how proportions are important when you look at a car like the new BMW 4 series, the 6 series, Volvo XC60. I saw the new Jaguar F-Pace in the street few days ago and it just looks great, well seated, perfect balance, same as the Lexus NX.. a bit shocking in term of design but to me very advance.
Do you have specific favourites?
Too many... let's try to pics the main ones.
From the classics: One that makes me shiver is the AC Cobra, then of course 1954 Porsche 356 Pre A, 1964 904, 1973 911 2.7 RS, BMW 3.0 CSL, BMW 2002, Audi 50, all the aircooled VWs from 1938 to 1976.
From the modern era: The one I was speaking about above, Porsche 991 (my dream car of the moment would be a 991 GT3 RS) and 981 Cayman, Golf 7, Mercedes CL Coupe and AMG GT, Nissan Murano, Renault Clio and Kadjar.
What design projects are you currently working on?
I've just asked my boss, unfortunately I cannot tell you much about it, but I'm designing for Chery which is a growing Chinese company and I'm currently working on the next products of the brand for 2017/18.
As personal work some friends and I are currently working on a project during our free time. We are imagining what could be the Porsche Vision Gran Turismo since Porsche doesn't have a car in the Gran Turismo video game. It's a project we started few months ago and which should be done at the end of February. I had the chance to find some passionate and talented people joining me on this project who are all excited and I'm really grateful to them for that. I think it's hard to find people passionate enough to work outside of the office for nothing else but the challenge and pleasure of creating something cool! I'm also grateful for having a very patient wife who let me work on these projects during my free time, she is really supporting me and I know I'm very lucky!
What is next for you?
That's a good question, until now I've only had experiences on daily cars for mass production. I would like to have an experience for may be more exotic or engineering orientated brand like Porsche, Jaguar, Aston Martin, Tesla... Yet I'm open to any new experiences