Buy-in: the hidden, yet critical component of your design

Audi R8 V10 Plus Auto Sports Car Audi R8 Vehicles - buy-in

After months of sketching, rendering, modifying, deleting, sketching, rendering, modifying and deleting, you finally have it… You were tasked with a futuristic concept and you are finally ready to present your work. You based your design on the latest styles and the shift towards a simplified, yet feature-rich expectation by future consumers. It has been your focus day/night, whenever inspiration hits, and your passion, around the clock. So, what do you have to lose?

ConferenceYou walk into that conference room with a pep in your step, confident, anticipating the same excitement out of your audience as you had when you called it “Final”. Yet, something is missing… something is lacking… you are not feeling the same way when you leave that room as you did when you arrived. It seems that your design was “too this”, or “not enough that”… Overall, it seems like you may have shaken things up too much. You took your project seriously and produced something unique and exciting, but were they ready for it? Are the others in the room tasked with reviewing your work as informed and inspired as you are? Perhaps, or perhaps not. Either way, your worst fear may be coming to light… your model is going straight to the file drawer.

What can you do? Maybe they weren’t ready for it yet, or maybe this manufacturer is not the right fit for your career… Or, maybe, there’s a way to get buy-in, to bend the right ear the right way, and establish credibility and support for your designs.

Being an automotive designer demands a balance between mathematical and artistic talents. From logic and science, to abstract expression and energy. As such, not many other people have the ability to fully understand and comprehend the vision that we illustrate in our work. Especially when considering futuristic concepts, it may be seeing too far into the future, or it may be too dramatic of a shift from what is here today to what is being demonstrated. So what can we do to reassure those reviewing our designs that we have a grasp on both reality and on our vision of what the future holds so that we do get buy-in?

Consider the following:

  1. Refer to an artistic sketch of the closest model to your project that is in production today. By comparing “present” and “future” works, they could see the resemblance and the design as an illustration.
  2. Demonstrate phases of your vision. By showing your ideas that are 3, 5, 10, 15 years out you can showcase your work and how you expect your designs to come to fruition.
  3. Ask questions. You could invoke intrigue and curiosity in your audience and reviewers by asking questions that get them pining for a design like yours.
  4. Prepare your presentation well in advance so that when the time comes to deliver, you have rehearsed your main points, you have anticipated the objections and are ready to stand behind your work.
  5. Remember that you have a gift, that your calling is to do exactly what you are doing, and if it feels like you are on to something, then you are.

Unfortunately, artistic fields are subject to a tremendous amount of scrutiny and criticism. There is no “right” or “wrong”, but there are opinions, preferences and perspectives to contend with when getting buy-in. What we do is truly unique and while there are times our work may be underappreciated or undervalued, it is essential that we remain steadfast in our visions, in our convictions to our work and in our self-confidence. Keep up the great work, and don’t let those who don’t “get” your vision interfere with your future. Respect your audience and reviewers, but no more than yourself. Give credit to other designers who have been successful, but do not compare yourself to others.

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