Art Of Drive: An Interview With Automotive Designer Pavel Islyamov

Our Art of Drive series interviews artists, designers and photographers to find out what inspires them.

How long have you been an artist/designer, and how did it all start for you?

Ever since I was a little child I was drawing things, mostly aircraft at that time. They had a lot of influence on my design work as a source of inspiration. Then at some point I had a couple of RC cars and a collection of car magazines, this is how I became fascinated about cars. At around the age of 14 I dreamt about becoming a car designer.

What is your background, education and training?

I completed a bachelor degree in industrial design at Kharkiv State Academy of Design and Arts (KSADA) in my hometown Kharkiv, Ukraine in 2009. Back then it was the closest thing I felt that I could do in order to become a car designer. I am still doing some product design every once in a while. In 2010 I received a scholarship from Volkswagen Group for a one year masters course in transportation and car design in Scuola Politecnica di Design (SPD), Milano. After that I returned to KSADA to finish another degree in product design whilst applying for an internship at Renault Design Central Europe in June 2012. I got the internship, and this is where I work now, designing on automotive projects.

How would you describe your art?

The way I see it, art should bring some emotions to you, ask you questions, inspire.

Who and what do you cite as influences and motivations for your work?

For the influences I would name Chris Bangle, Karim Rashid, Santiago Calatrava, Daniel Simon, Sasha Selipanov, Ernest Tsarukyan, Scott Robertson and many other designers, architects and artists. Motivation usually comes naturally to me, I just like to draw, design and create. And of course there is always a professional environment, a university group, colleagues at work, an internet community. You just see some cool things and say “Wow, this is nice, I want to sketch something as well.”

What is this fantastic looking project?

RX047 is a single-seater sports car designed for one and only purpose; driving pleasure in a world where the utility function of the automobile is taking precedence. It is somewhere in between a hot rod and a speed record car, inspired by 1930s & ‘40s aircraft.

Presumably equipped with massive power plant using hydrogen fuel cells, which determines the presence of a huge engine compartment and gives it a strong character in terms of proportions. No rules no restrictions, only freedom and speed.

How did you come up with it?

It was one of those project which changed a lot during sketch phase. In fact it started as a powerboat but in the end I couldn't hold myself to put wheels on it. It is my dream car, although it was for sure at the time of working on this project.

I did a lot of research sketching until I found the right proportions and attitude. Then I moved to 3D developing shape and details directly there. For this project I used Dassault SolidWorks for modelling and Keyshot (maybe it was called Bunkspeed HyperShot back then) for rendering. While the loose sketch phase took about a month in between other university projects, the actual 3D took one week to model up plus another week for renderings.

Take us through the process of creating a work of art from initial idea to final piece.

In the beginning of every project there is always a lot of research and sketching. It's the easiest way to explore the potential of the idea, to try different approaches and solutions. Sometimes during this process the original idea itself evolves quite a lot. Once the right solution is found I do some more precise 2D renderings where I finalize the object from all the views, and make a single coherent object out of all those little solutions in the sketches. Then it is a 3D phase. For a lot of simple objects, mostly product design I skip 2D rendering phase and go to 3D directly from sketches, it saves a lot of time. Once a rough 3D model is done I render it, check it in different perspectives and environments and ask my colleagues for feedback. Usually after that I refine and improve the design, going back to sketching to find details. After the design is done I do more precise modelling and make some renders of my 3D data.

Which mediums and tools do you work with, and why do they suit you best?

Pen, pencil, markers, watercolor, gouache, coal, pastels, Wacom digital tablet, Photoshop, Illustrator, Alias, Solidworks, 3ds Max, Vray, Keyshot, Showcase. It is always good to explore some new tools and techniques in order to improve your skills and to learn new ways of expressing your ideas. For me the choice of tools depends a lot on the kind of project I'm working on. For car design I usually stick to pen, markers, Photoshop, Alias and Keyshot (digital rendering software). For me this is the most efficient combination. Pen and marker are very quick and easy to take with me wherever I go. Photoshop is pretty much the ultimate 2D digital media. I use it for design sketching, rendering and illustration. It has a lot of flexible tools and ways to draw. Alias and Keyshot combined make for powerful 3D surface modelling and quick rendering.

Has the way you work changed considerably over your artistic/design career so far. If so, how?

My career hasn’t been long enough to change the ways I work too much yet. So far what I've learned during my studies works well for me.

When planning a new project, what do you look for in a subject, and how does the project take shape? 

It depends, sometimes it's a given brief, sometimes I'm just exploring things around me and imagining “What if?” One day I see a car which I like and immediately want to make an illustration of it, another day I imagine a race car of the future. For most of them now I spend time in a studio sketching cars after quite a precise brief.

Are you currently working for a company or are you a freelance designer/artist? How's it all going for you?

At the moment I'm working as a car designer in Renault Design Central Europe in Bucharest. I'm still learning a lot and really happy with my job!

How do you see your methods and style changing and developing in the future? What’s next from you?

It all depends on a new technology, ways of thinking of a society, tools which appear in our life and many others. I observe them, explore them, use them and express my ideas and feeling in one form or another whether it's a sketch, a painting, a project of a chair or a concept of a vehicle for a distant future.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in the art/design world?

Dream big, follow your dreams, apply yourself.

This article first appeared in Fuel Magazine issue 17.

Fuel TankArt, Digital Art, Ukraine