Adam Rix on find­ing de­sign in­spi­ra­tion at car rac­ing cir­cuits

Computer Arts - - CONTENTS - Adam Rix is cre­ative di­rec­tor at de­sign agency Mu­sic, whose clients in­clude the NHS, Dr Martens and Univer­sal Mu­sic UK.­

Up un­til re­cently I al­ways thought I ended up in this line of work be­cause of my art teacher, Mr Phelps. When I was about 14 he told me about a job en­ti­tled ‘graphic de­signer’, pitch­ing it as the per­fect com­bi­na­tion of my two favourite sub­jects; CDT and art. So with­out any real idea what a graphic de­signer was, I de­cided to be­come one.

How­ever, when I re­cently read an ar­ti­cle with Richard Tur­ley (who led the de­sign of the new F1 brand iden­tity) it dawned on me that my love for graphic de­sign ac­tu­ally started much ear­lier.

I’ve al­ways known that my dad gave me the gift of motorsport (a big pas­sion of mine), but what I didn’t re­alise un­til re­cently is that he also gave me the gift of graphic de­sign. As a kid, we would spend our week­ends at stock car rac­ing cir­cuits. He was a tyre and ex­haust fit­ter who loved cars and he was an avid fol­lower of short cir­cuit rac­ing, par­tic­u­larly stock car rac­ing, which a friend of his com­peted in (Con­rad Self, car 636). We’d of­ten spend time in the pits with Con­rad, and we’d wander around look­ing at the other cars.

In the in­ter­view, Richard talks about why the F1 logo needed to be so sim­ple; “The iden­tity is also built out of this idea that For­mula 1 is full of lo­gos – it’s the sport of lo­gos”.

It dawned on me that his state­ment didn’t just ap­ply to F1, it ap­plied to all motorsport – in­clud­ing stock car rac­ing. As a kid, I’d gaze long­ingly at the sign­writ­ing on the cars. The car num­bers were air­brushed to per­fec­tion de­spite the bat­tered na­ture of the cars, the de­tail­ing al­most fool­ing the eye into think­ing they were gen­uinely metal­lic. They were cov­ered with colour­ful hand-painted ren­der­ings of lo­gos of lo­cal garages, auto sal­vage com­pa­nies – even chip­pies.

And motorsport isn’t just full of lo­gos – there are all kinds of graph­ics ev­ery­where; the iconic Mar­tini stripes and cheeky ab­strac­tions of the Marl­boro logo through­out the noughties to get around cig­a­rette ad­ver­tis­ing laws – each hel­met is filled with graph­ics per­sonal to a driver.

So I’ve cho­sen the Tyrrell P34 as my de­sign icon for a cou­ple of rea­sons.

First of all, with­out be­ing brought up around motorsport I’m not sure I’d have found the ca­reer I love.

Se­condly, it rep­re­sents ev­ery­thing I love about F1. Ob­vi­ously I love the speed, the glam­our, the risk… but I also love that F1 is ul­ti­mately a com­pe­ti­tion of cre­ative minds. Teams of cre­ative thinkers (designers, en­gi­neers, aero­dy­nam­i­cists) work tire­lessly to come up with ideas that make their cars go round a track quicker than the op­po­si­tion.

I’m a de­signer that is driven more by ideas than aes­thet­ics, and while there are far more beau­ti­ful cars to have graced F1 than the P34 (and far more suc­cess­ful, but we’ll gloss over that), for me it stands for the kind of au­da­cious think­ing I love in both motorsport and the cre­ative in­dus­try.

In 1975, on a flight home from the South African Grand Prix, Derek Gard­ner, a de­signer for the Tyrell F1 team, snuck into the first class sec­tion of the plane and showed re­tired three-time world cham­pion Jackie Ste­wart his plans for their next car. Ste­wart had a chok­ing fit on see­ing that the pro­posed car had six wheels. The rest of the sport had a sim­i­lar re­ac­tion. It was an idea borne out of re­stric­tion, when many fun­da­men­tal parts of cars were stan­dard­ised – so any com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage came from think­ing dif­fer­ently.

As a de­signer who is prob­a­bly more in­spired by ad­ver­tis­ing than I am by other graphic de­sign, I’ve al­ways re­ally liked this state­ment on ad agency Fallon’s web­site – “We be­lieve cre­ativ­ity is the last le­gal means to an un­fair ad­van­tage”. That’s what I love about what we do. And achiev­ing that un­fair ad­van­tage of­ten re­quires the sort of au­da­cious idea that Gard­ner had… Drum­ming go­ril­las sell­ing choco­late. Thou­sands of balls thrown down a hill to sell TVs. Ad­ver­tis­ing for a ho­tel that tells the world how crap it is. An art gallery with four lo­gos. Stamps with fruit and veg you can stick eyes on… and that’s just the first few things that spring to mind from the ar­chives.

Ul­ti­mately our in­dus­try is a com­pe­ti­tion of cre­ative minds – and al­most ev­ery good cre­ative I’ve ever met is at least a lit­tle bit com­pet­i­tive (even if they don’t ad­mit it). Our job is a com­pe­ti­tion to out­think our peers (and be lauded with in­dus­try awards, if you’re that way in­clined) on be­half of our clients to make them more suc­cess­ful and more fa­mous – to give them an un­fair ad­van­tage.

You can’t al­ways win but when you do, it feels great.

Adam Rix views the Tyrrell P34 as the per­fect ex­am­ple of us­ing de­sign to achieve a com­pet­i­tive edge.

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