While most of you may not have heard of Rob Jensen, most of you have heard of Ford, and the Ford Mustang. Rob, the Detroit based Ford designer has most recently worked on the development of the Ford Mustang GT500 (Awesome car and design by the way) and has been involved in several key projects at Ford over the years. He runs his own blog/website, where he shares insight into his design philosophy as well as some of his sample work. Check it out, and I’m sure you’ll be amazed at his sketch style, unique perspective, and raw talent. That’s why we decided to “borrow” Rob for a sit-down on idsketching.com.
1 – Tell us a little about yourself, Where you’re from, where you work and why did you choose to do ID?
I grew up in Utah, and went to school at Brigham Young University. Go Cougars! I graduated with a BFA in industrial Design, emphasizing in Transportation. While going to school I had three internships, two at I.A.S. (iasdesign.com), and one at Ford Motor Company (Ford.com). I hired on at Ford 5 years ago, and have been there since. I started drawing before I can remember, but after high school I decided to find a creative career that wasn’t in fine art. At BYU I had a hard time deciding on a career until I found out… you could draw cars for a living!
2 – You’ve had a chance to work with Ford for some time, and most recently, the GT 500 Mustang. What can you tell us about sketching and the design process there?
I’m guessing our process is very similar to other companies, although a unique aspect to designing cars is working with full size clay models. Designers sketch and render proposals, which are submitted to management for review. If a theme is picked you are assigned a digital and traditional sculpting team to work with. From then on you spend time taping on the clay and sketching details to guide modelers and engineers. Ford is a large company, so the design process can be long. The base Mustang took 2 years and the GT500 took around a year.
3 – How do you effectively use sketches as a designer?
I’m always striving to improve in this area, but there are three types of people I sketch for, me, modelers/engineers, and other designers/management. When I’m sketching for me it’s quick, dirty, and usually overworked. These sketches are used to find design solutions or refine existing ones. When needing to illustrate ideas for sculptors/engineers, I’ll refine the sketches so they are simple, clean, and easy to read. For other designers/management it’s all about emotion, excitement and a touch of fiction. ID sketches are always used to communicate, it’s important to write them in the language of the intended viewer
4 – When not sketching the next awesome Ford, what do you sketch for leisure?
It’s usually crazy creatures for my 3 year-old son.
5 – Can you give us any insight into your style or technique? (images maybe?)
I love sketching on plain old copy paper with a black paper mate. Even final proposal renderings usually start with pen and paper. After sketching traditionally, I’ll scan it and add color in Photoshop. To me, seeing a little pen sketch underneath a Photoshop rendering adds personality and little human touch.
6 – Lastly, three tips for the sketching designer –
- Keep your audience in mind while you sketch.
- If you ever find yourself getting frustrated, stop and remind yourself that you sketch and design for a living!
- To quote my childhood hero Mark Kistler, “Draw, Draw, Draw.” If I could, I’d sketch in my sleep. It might sound obvious, but practicing is the only way you become better.