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Frederic Dams – car designer and illustrator

Frederic Dams was born and raised in Belgium, he grew up loving cars and doing artwork. Fred’s father was a real car enthusiast and his passion for the automotive world rubbed off on him. He knew from a young age that he wanted to be a car designer and aimed my studies towards that goal. He did a Masters in product design engineering after which he did an MA in automotive design at Coventry university. About a year later he managed to get a job as a car designer at Bentley Motors and 12 years later He’s still there, and still loving his job.

Rupert Whyte of Historic Car Art talks to Fred about his passion for drawing, sketching and painting his his spare time…

RW: So Fred, how do you like to spend time away from you professional career as a leading designer?

FD: You’d think designing cars every working day would satisfy my hunger, but in the evenings and weekends you’ll regularly find me messing around with photoshop or on my iPad, doing some kind of automotive related sketch or a bit of artwork.

RW: What’s the most important aspect of car design?

FD: When I was younger I knew what cars I liked, but if you’d asked me why, I would have found it difficult to tell you. Over the years, working with and being around many talented people in the industry, I’ve really enjoyed coming to understand a little bit of what makes a great looking car, what people are drawn to, what the human eye tends to find attractive and exciting. I’ve got a huge amount of respect and appreciation for the work of so many great car designers from the past and present. It’s all about proportions, balance, line work and form language. The subject fascinates me immensely and whenever I do any artwork I’ll look for certain angles and perspectives that really show off that particular car’s proportions and line work.

RW: How do you become a successful designer?

FD: Presenting design work is a big part of my job as well, so I’m very aware that regardless of how good or bad a design is, the more interesting and visually spectacular the image that communicates this design is, the easier you’ll attract and hold your audience’s interest. In a competitive design studio with many highly talented people, it can make the difference between having your design chosen to go into production or it ending up in the “archives” never to see the light of day again. Creating beautiful imagery has to be a real passion if you want to be a successful designer.

RW: Digital art is now accepted in the art world – how important is it in the design industry?

FD: The time pressure on the modern design process has become increasingly demanding. You’ve got the find the most efficient way possible to produce your work without compromising on the quality. You can no longer rely on pastels and gouache. If you spill some ink over your canvas, there’s no time to start again. You’ll be out of the running. Digital techniques are crucial now. They certainly don’t make you a better designer or artist – if you’re no good, you’re no good, no matter how expensive your computer. However, they do allow you to speed things up massively. No need to wait for anything to dry, no need to worry about smudging or spilling. Want to change a colour, make something bigger or smaller: no problem. The future is digital in this part of the car world and there’s no going back.

RW: How do you see your art developing?

FD: Over the years this two-sided passion for great design and beautiful imagery has become part of what I do and who I am. It’s why I so enjoy doing automotive artwork. I use the digital tools that have become second nature to me and really look forward to see how future technologies can further expand our creativity. I imagine and hope I’ll be doing what I love for many years yet.

It’s not all about cars though – Fred’s parting comment was “Oh,… and I also like motorbikes” – So much so he keeps one in the house 🙂

You can view all of Fred’s published artworks here.