If you don’t know Peter Spriggs then you likely haven’t been following the Autodesk Alias and VRED social media pages. We often showcase his renderings which deservedly garner much attention and praise. With that said, we wanted to get to know Peter on a more personal level to see what drives him and empowers him to create work that impresses us and many others in the industrial design profession. So, we called him up and had a nice chat. Here is what he shared with us:
Ananda Arasu: Peter, how did you start working in automotive and design?
Peter Spriggs: I’ve had a passion for creativity since I was little. It wasn’t immediately in the automotive sector, or even design at all. I started drawing from a young age, starting with portraits of people and characters. In the two years between high school and university I grew interested in design. I paid more attention to product design, cars, and how they evolved over time. I was eventually drawn more to cars, as product design just didn’t seem to appeal to me as much. My family and I traveled to Florida for our first trip to the U.S.A. and I remember seeing a 1968 Corvette Stingray. I keenly remember the sweeping reflections of the sunset sky and the different shades of orange that were captured in the curves of the car. I appreciated American design and this really helped me discover what I wanted to do for my career. Studying at University and even when growing up, I was exposed to a lot of design, not just in auto/industry, but also in science fiction and enjoy movies like Back to the Future and Alien. After getting my degree I and went straight into a two-week
contract with a couple of fellow graduates. I was still very inexperienced but decided this was the best route. I turned more towards using Alias and modeling rather than design. Alias was very real to me, working directly in 3D forced me to realize what I could and couldn’t do with surface shapes. You can’t hide difficult areas, you can’t cheat highlights. This demand of perfection appealed to me. I did a lot of stuff in my own time, using a student license, and built up a portfolio that I sent to a variety of companies. Landing that two-week contract was a great first step into the industry and right afterwards I started working for a client that was actually in the same city as my University: Jaguar | Land Rover. There were lots of options on where I could go from here, possibilities all over the world, I travelled to Sweden, I almost went to California and may still make that leap in future, or I could return to the many clients available right here in the Midlands.
Arasu: What keeps you interested and inspired now that you’re in the profession?
Spriggs: Mainly it’s concept cars and shows around the world. There are plenty of resources. I might see something I like about a concept that will inspire me and I’ll jump on Alias and start doing something that captures that inspiration. Most of the time in the Automotive industry we are tasked with keeping our work close to pre-existing designs and models. Manufacturers tend to play it safe with design style-wise. I like to push myself a bit more to get out of my comfort zone. Being interested so much in Sci Fi I tend to look at a lot of strange, futuristic looking concepts. Works done by the likes of Daniel Simon and Scott Robertson. I admire their designs, sketches and models. Every once in a while, I break away from standard Automotive and even Science Fiction. I recently joined a Dungeons and Dragons campaign in my own time, partly to gain some inspiration for the fantasy side of design. So far, I haven’t made any meaningful progress with it but I would enjoy putting some designs into polygonal sculpting software and stick to Alias for the cars and structural work.
Arasu: Do you just play around in Alias?
Spriggs: I try to balance it out. I like to make things that incorporate Sci Fi in the design as opposed to the fantasy side. I tend not to start with an array of sketches either, I’ll admit that I find it much more intuitive to start with only a single side profile thumbnail sketch and build it up in Alias from there rather than fleshing it out on paper first.
Arasu: What works are you proudest of?
Spriggs: My proudest work would probably be while working with JLR on the Discovery Vision Concept from 2014. It was the first opportunity I’d had to work on an entire exterior from concept to delivery alongside some truly great modelers and designers. The experience really increased my knowledge of fast paced surfacing and how to balance speed while still attaining quality highlights. Another work that I’m kind of proud of is that even as an Alias modeler, I had the opportunity to design a wheel that made it through to production. It was completely unexpected, a senior designer approached me one day and just asked if I’d like to contribute some wheel sketches. Many designers in the industry often see their original vision diluted as it moves through the design process, so I feel it’s an achievement to have a design stay true to the original all the way to production.
Arasu: What is the greatest challenge facing automotive designers today?
Spriggs: I would say the autonomy of EVs, it is such a change to the industry. The average car today is recognizable, with key branding features in the bonnet/hood, boot/trunk, wheels, etc. Now as manufacturers design for the future such as Mercedes with their F015 and Renault’s EZ-GO, things are changing drastically. EV concepts are shorter, cabin space is changing, the design characteristics/brands are evolving. It is a challenge to stay true to the brand while making such fundamental changes.
Arasu: What advice would you give to the designers reading this?
Spriggs: From a modeler POV, I’d say get a good understanding of 3D form in 3D space, working with modelers can go from smooth as silk to rough as cobbles depending on how you can visualize 3D form. Start with an amazing looking sketch but understand that in Alias you can’t cheat things in shadow, you can’t create a highlight that doesn’t work. Design with this in mind and it will help you a great deal. Also, take as much inspiration as you can from sources you have access to, don’t constrain your designs to the here and now, science fiction is becoming science fact much faster than people think. If you’re only ever designing things that are a reality now then you could already be too late. The industry is now all about EVs but try to imagine what the industry is going to look like 20 years from now.