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Automotive Artists: Anthony Colard

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You’ve probably seen his work circulating on numerous Internet sites, but how did he get there and who’s the personality behind these wonderful works of art? We sit down with sketch master Anthony Colard to find out what makes him who he is…

Where are you from originally?

I was born in France in 1986, in the French Alps to be precise 🙂

When did you know you wanted to be a designer?
I initially wanted to become an airplane pilot in the military. My grandfather used to fly planes for a living and his stories were the icing on the cake during my childhood summer holidays. But I don’t have 20/20 eyesight, so I started looking into the other thing I loved: sketching.

In middle school, in France, we have the opportunity to do a three to five day internship to discover what the industry is and try to get a better idea about what we want to do when we will be adults. When I was 14, I got the amazing chance to intern at Matra’s headquarters, in their design studio. That week changed my life, and I never looked back on the choice I made that day.

It’s obvious you are a very talented designer. When did you start to draw?
Thank you. My father, a mechanical engineer, is good at drawing. When I was between five and eight years old I was always asking him to draw me some motorcycles as he was working for the Team Kawasaki France at the time. When I turned 10 or 11, I was the one doing the sketches for his office (and sometimes his colleagues) as I had become pretty good at freehand sketching.

You design a lot of different vehicles — bikes as well as cars. Which do you prefer? Why?
I love designing just about everything. Thinking about volumes, lines, shapes, and also engineering solutions to make it all work. This is what makes me get up in the morning.

I’ve been mostly sketching cars since I started my career as a professional designer and I really enjoy it. But I have to admit that I love creating bikes even more. I’m a bit of a detail fanatic, and for me motorcycles are the best combination of both aesthetics and engineering. You need both to obtain a great final product, but unlike cars, the engineering on a motorcycle plays a great part in the overall design itself. It’s the best of both worlds.

Did you study vehicle/transportation design directly?
I graduated from high school like any other French student when I was 18. I had already been admitted at Strate College Designers before my graduation, so the next year was my first year in a design school.

For the first couple of years, the school asks you to work on various subjects and not only the ones you like. So I did some product design, packaging, multimedia, sculpting… It’s a great way to get students to open their mind to other universes that maybe they didn’t know before.

It helped me a lot in terms of creativity, inspiration and also motivation. Sometimes I simply didn’t like the projects I had to work on for school, but I still had to find good ideas to present to my teachers. Transportation design started in the third year of design school, all the way to my graduation at the end of the fifth year.

What did you study first before going to Strate College?
Before Strate College, I did my French baccalaureate in Applied Physics and Mathematics. That was the option I enjoyed the most, and that could get me to enter most of the Engineering or Science Universities in case I didn’t get accepted in Strate College.

Did Strate help you get the job offer at Ducati?
Strate College pushes its students to go get their internships on their own. They advise you when it comes to building your portfolio, but when it comes to contacting companies the only help you can get from the school is a phone number, when you’re lucky.

And I see that as a good thing. Students who rely on their school contacts to get internships and jobs won’t make it very far in the industry. If you want a job, I believe it’s only up to you to go and get it.

Why did you turn down the role at Ducati?
Although I really enjoyed my internship and I’m a Ducati fan, the conditions of the deal weren’t very good. It was 2009 and the recession was hitting the industry pretty hard, so at the time, working for Ducati would have actually cost me more money than anything else, and I simply couldn’t afford it. Shame because I had some great moments with the team there and I learnt so much in only a few months. Bart, Gianni and Damien were great teachers/colleagues!

How did you get the role at Jaguar Land Rover?
JLR posted an ad in March 2010, and it was pretty much the first job opportunity since the economic crisis had struck the industry in 2009. I got in touch with them through the details included in their ad, went to the interview and got offered a position as a contractor in the Advanced Design team, which was working on the Land Rover DC100 concept car at the time.

Why did you leave JLR to join Opel?
I had been in contact with General Motors for a little while after my diploma and, while working for Land Rover, they called me to arrange an interview at their headquarters in Warren, Michigan. The job interview went rather well, but I didn’t get the position in the US.

A few weeks later, I was in Rüsselsheim for an interview with the GM Europe design managers. They offered me a position right after getting out of the meeting room and the contract was in my mailbox a couple of days later, starting the next month!

That was unreal almost, with everything happening very quickly, but I’ve always wanted to be a designer for General Motors, so it didn’t take me long to make up my mind and move to Germany.

What are you doing now?
I left Opel in November 2012, after completing the Opel Insignia facelift of both sedan and station wagon and also doing the design of the whole Country Tourer version of the car. It was a great experience on a rather intense project, and spending a couple of years working with Andrew Dyson and Niels Loeb as chiefs on the project, getting the opportunity to bring my ideas all the way to the production phase of the car was a dream come true for me.

But I was still a very young designer, and I was complaining a lot about how things were managed, something the bosses didn’t really take to kindly. The company was having a few difficulties, managers were being moved around between US and Europe, projects put on hold… We were still trying to get the projects approved and moving forward while suffering from a slowly recovering industry, while other companies like SAAB were even going bankrupt.

It was a tough time, and I wasn’t happy about it and said it to my chief. We stopped the contract and I went on to work on my own projects like the Dubai Roadster or the Porsche 921 Vision for example, and prepared the launch of my own business in France in late 2013.

What compels you to create your vehicle-based artwork? Where do you find your inspiration?
I started creating my artworks after leaving GM. I needed something that gave me the opportunity to sketch vehicles that I love just for the fun of sketching them. It’s only for my own pleasure; it’s actually very selfish!

Their respective owners commissioned some of the vehicles in the artworks, the rest of them are simply cars and bikes that I love and that fascinate me. I haven’t had the time to even cover 1% of the wish list I’ve got in my head, but I’ll do my best to keep on sketching them, even though this year I’m seriously lacking time to make any progress.

The inspiration is very wide. It can go from an old printed ad I’ve seen or remembered, to artworks created by other digital artists as well as photos I took during racing events or just pictures I find on the various blogs and Tumblrs I scroll through every week. Sometimes just a detail inspires me, sometimes it’s the overall ambiance, or maybe the composition or the technique. But basically, I just want to sketch cool cars and hang them on my wall.

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