Patrick Faulwetter – Concept Designer for Hollywood movies, sexy cars, video games and more..

Patrick Faulwetter and I met while living in Los Angeles many moons ago! He always seemed shy and introverted. You never quite knew what he was thinking or feeling but understood that behind those eyes lied a deep hunger for understanding. There was way more going on that met the eye!

Why did I want to interview him for Discover Out Loud? As part of my daily quest for influencers and teachers, it is important that I keep an open eye and mind when choosing my subjects. My aim is to show everyone that regardless of the profession, culture, creed, age or gender, all successful people have at least these four things in common: dream, visualization, hard work and perseverance. Nothing happens easily or over night. But if we believe enough and try hard enough, the outcome can only exceed our wildest dreams. And once you read Patrick’s answers, this will be even more clear and hopefully inspire you to never stop dreaming and believing. Some may argue against this philosophy but even if we don’t quite fulfil our aspiration, the road to it and process can be as exciting and rewarding.

Who is Patrick Faulwetter?

I grew up in a small town in northern Germany. I remember drawing cars and planes as a kid and building paper models of all sorts of things – buildings, ships and products.

As a child my parents exposed me to the Bauhaus philosophy of “form follows function”. Seeing a more traditional culture around me, made me curious to find out why people have so many different tastes in design. My love for drawing led me to study transportation design in Pforzheim (near Stuttgart).

Being exposed to the very international field of car design found its pivotal moment when I got the chance to do an internship at VOLKSWAGEN DESIGN CENTER EUROPE near Barcelona. Learning from some of the world’s best car designers and leaving the country I grew up in helped to opened my horizon. Also seeing very strong individuals express their art gave me the confidence to wonder about my own artistic personality. What is it? That lead me to moving to Los Angeles after I graduated in Car design.

I was immediately inspired by the culture which focuses strongly on individuality. Being in a place in which I felt I can be whomever I wanted to be felt very liberating and it soon became clear to me that this place will be home.

In Los Angeles I worked as a Car designer for several years, working with the VW Group Design Center California for different Brands including Audi, Bentley and Lamborghini. Soon I expanded my design work to designing for the Video games and the Hollywood film industries. 

Can you describe your job?

As an independent Designer I work  for clients in the Car, Film, and Game industries. I design vehicles, products, scenarios and entire worlds for my clients. I see my job as helping my clients explore, develop and visualize ideas.

I work mostly digitally with 2D and 3D programs to create designs and images. But being a designer is more a mindset than a job. It’s a way of observing your surroundings and then reflecting, improving and ultimately speculating about it in an artistic way. I see life as a holistic process of experiencing and reflecting- for me there are no strong distinguishing categories like leisure or work – there is just Being. 

Did you always know that this is what you wanted to do?

I had the vague idea that I wanted to design futuristic things, but that felt all to unrealistic.

Often I felt corrupted by the voices of society which seemed to question my dream (life isn’t all beer and skittles). I might have been inspired by hollywood movies as a teenager, but that industry felt as far away as another planet.

Could you tell us a little bit about your creative process? How long does it take to complete a drawing?

An important part of my process is to allow myself phases of playful exploration, free from any restriction and alternate it with phases in which I very meticulously work towards my goal.

I see a drawing as a tool to express an idea, In the end the idea counts and not the time spent to express it. In today’s fast paced world it is easy to fall into the trap of putting a timeframe on everything in order to measure its worth. I realized that this often is a mental trap which undermines creativity.  Having said that, sure there is the need to perform under time pressure. But how long an answer takes depends on the question.

How has the process change in the past few years with the advent of digital? Is it better? Easier?

In the past there were traditional tools- today there are digital tools.  At the end of the day they are all tools and it depends on how a creative mind uses them to express itself.

In my experience it’s not easier to learn because it gives you different possibilities at any time which doesn’t necessarily force you to stick to a strict process of decision making in developing a design.

I’m happy to be alive in this day and age because there are endless possibilities to express yourself – traditionally, digitally, 2D and 3D. 

Often I feel like a “kid in a candy store” because there are too many interesting tools to try and to learn but unfortunately not enough time.

I think it is more important than ever to find the tools which are the best fit for your artistic personality and the vision you want to express and not get side-tracked. We use a lot of digital tools these days to mimic the imperfection of traditional tools. Imperfection reflects humanity and offers approachability.

Who do you dream of meeting and making an illustration of? Or what?

There are a couple of destinations I always wanted to go to do paintings: Torres del Paine National park in Patagonia and Mount Roraima in Venezuela

What (or who) motivates, inspires and influences you?

In general I take inspiration from everything but the subject I’m working on.

When I work on a car design I might be inspired by architecture, when I work on designing a cityscape I often take cars as a source of inspiration.

In my opinion, creativity is really about bringing things into a new context. That’s why I love to work on very different subjects- creativity happens automatically.

One thing I fell in love with, is the Southwest in the US. This sense of epic scale open spaces just embodies freedom to me. Also it puts mankind into the perspective of how old the world is. Our life is just a blink of an eye, it makes me aware of how precious every moment is and also that often we take ourselves way too seriously.  As a child I heard Dvorak’s Symphony “From the New World”  which fascinated me on a deep level and it still echoes when I do road trips in the United States. 

If you weren’t able to do what you do now, what would you do?

I think if I couldn’t draw / paint / design I would want to compose soundtracks – I would want to express stories and places in sound.  In any case I would need to express my inner feelings and experiences through some kind of art- otherwise there wouldn’t be a reason for me to be in this world. 

How are you handling difficult times in this business and what keeps you going?

I think it is important to set things in perspective when difficult times arise. Practicing Stoicism gives me the awareness of what is important. It’s all about appreciation of being alive. Once having that awareness, many things don’t seem that serious anymore. At the end of the day, I’m not a surgeon. Failing as an artist doesn’t mean life or death. My ego might die, but I try to leave it in the back seat anyway!

Can you describe quickly some of the projects you have worked on?

Working on transportation future scenarios for Volkswagen like the Volkswagen slip stream and Nano Spyder was very close to my heart: imagining future products in a broader context. 

Contributing as a Futurist on world building at Blizzard Entertainment for a project which lead to “Overwatch” was a great experience because it allowed me to infuse industrial design sensibility into a game world. Working on Transformers was a childhood dream that came true because I could connect all the things I love: cars, environments and robots.

I’ve worked on the Warcraft movie which was interesting because it was about blending the borders between video game and movie.  

What are you working on these days?

Amongst other projects I’m currently working on as a Concept Artist is the upcoming Star Wars movie. I also work as a futurist for Lamborghini and I do visual development for Riot Games.

What’s next?

I’m developing a story with my writing partner Birgit Doll. We’ve been working on this for a while now and it feels like an iceberg- so much of its foundation lays underneath the surface. It’s great to work together and learn from each-other’s perspectives. Ultimately we want to create an illustrated book.

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