Art Of Drive: An Interview With Industrial Concept Designer Scott Robertson
Scott Robertson has quite the portfolio. As you will discover from the interview below, Scott’s experiences and publishings are varied and extensive. As we’re followers of his work, this interview has been a long time coming. So, it is with great pleasure that we can share with you an introduction into Scott’s world.
Please give our readers an introduction to who you are, where you are from, and what you do?
My name is Scott Robertson and I’m the former chair of Entertainment Design at Art Center College of Design and an industrial concept designer, author, educator and founder of Design Studio Press. I have more than twenty years of experience teaching and creating curriculum on how to design, draw and render at the highest college level. I’ve authored or co-authored 13 books on design and concept art. In addition to books, and co-produced more than 40 educational DVDs with the Gnomon Workshop of which 9 feature my own lectures. I occasionally lecture around the world for various corporations, colleges and through my own workshop brand, SRW.
In addition to teaching, I’ve worked on a wide variety of design projects ranging from vehicle and alien designs for the Hot Wheels animated series Battle Force Five, to theme park attractions such as the Men in Black ride in Orlando, Florida, for Universal Studios. Some of my clients have included the BMW subsidiary Design-works USA, Bell Sports, Giro, Mattel Toys, Spin Master Toys, Patagonia, the feature film Minority Report, Nike, Rockstar Games, Sony Online Entertainment, Sony Computer Entertainment of America, Buena Vista Games, THQ, and Fiat, among others.
I grew up in the countryside of the mid-Willamette Valley in rural Oregon and attended Oregon State University and graduated from Art Center College of Design with a degree in transportation design.
When did you start drawing and how did your life as an artist begin?
My father was a very good draftsman and painter who also attended Art Center so my first encouragement and education on the subject came from him. He was an illustrator and educator, not an industrial designer though, but he had a bug for building things, such as houses for our family to live in. I think I also caught the building bug from him as well. So I started drawing young and I had a great teacher in the house whenever I had questions, it definitely was a positive and creative environment to grow up in.
Who and what have inspired you and influenced your work?
The list is far too long to start naming names as we have published hundreds of artists’ works now through Design Studio Press and I find inspiration from many, many of them. I think the largest influences in my work can be more attributed to creative groups, environments and experiences. What I mean by this is by going to a great school like Art Center and being surrounded by other like-minded individuals all striving to learn and pushing themselves to improve was my first big professional influence. Next, years after graduation it was starting to teach and being pushed by my students to answer questions on how to draw, render, and design on a weekly basis.
The next strong influence was reconnecting with some of my old classmates and a few new friends to create the first book for Design Studio Press, Concept Design 1. The over 80 titles we have now published have been and will continue to be a source of inspiration for myself and I hope for others for a long, long time. Lastly, my mentors, my father Richard, Imre Molnar, Bryan Fitzpatrick and Marty Smith who have sadly all passed away now.
I can always seem to find inspiration in the work of others like when I flip through a FUEL Magazine or visit Art Station online. I’m naturally quite competitive and when I see others doing great work I want to join in and try my best as well.
How would you describe your style and technique?
I’ve always thought of myself as an industrial designer first and an artist second. For me the art is primarily a by-product of the design process and the tool I use to communicate my ideas to others. So the style and technique are not that important to me when it comes to the art. I just try to exercise a high degree of craftsmanship and strong foundation skills when drawing or rendering what I’m designing.
Has your style evolved over time?
Yes, mostly due to the introduction of new tools over the last 25 years. Digital tools like Photoshop and MODO have made it possible to explore new designs and create new art that I could not have created any other way in the past.
Please take us through the thinking and creative process behind your sketches and renderings.
To greatly simplify it, it starts with research based on a design brief or a script. Next the early ideas are put down as sketches or written notes on the subject. Out of this initial idea dump sketches are done either to share with others to generate design feedback or for my own design critique. After this critique process, directions are chosen and the concepts are more clearly communicated via full color photo-real renderings done in Photoshop or a 3D modeling and rendering program, usually this is MODO for me. Based on the input after presenting these renderings a design will move into physical modeling if needed or stay in the digital realm for final modeling. There can be as many feedback loops of prototype-present-critique-refine, repeat as needed until the design is right or you run out of time or money, whichever comes first.
Are you a production car enthusiast?
Of course! There are some amazing products being made now. I only wish the bigger automotive companies with the best resources would be a bit more daring when it came to the styling and range of vehicles they could best create.
Do you have specific favourites?
Sure, starting with the old stuff I like Fords ’32-36, ’40 pickups, VW split windows, BMW 2002, 3.0s, Porsche 356s, Alfa Romeo early ‘70s GTVs, Citroen SM, Jaguar E-type, my list is pretty eclectic. Present day, AMG GT, latest Porsche 911, La Ferrari, BMW i8, Ariel Atom, BAC Mono.
What are you currently working on?
Over the last year on the personal front I’ve been designing and building a 1934 Ford hot rod truck called FORDTRUSS with the skilled team down at Foothill Fabrication in Corona, CA. I’m documenting the entire design and build process via my Facebook and Instagram accounts. Follow along if you like via Instagram - @scoro5.
What is next for you?
About two and a half years ago I started to taper and have now stopped almost all of my other professional activities in order to become the chief creative officer of a start up company. I’m not at liberty yet to disclose what we have been doing, but I can say it’s some of the most exciting work I’ve ever contributed to. I hope we will be ready to start publically showing some of our products and ideas early in 2017.