Featured: BMW Car Designer's Passion for Cars Extends into his Spare Time

BMW Car Designer’s Passion for Cars Extends into his Spare Time

By Petrolicious Productions
January 6, 2014

Jochen Paesen is a Belgian automotive designer living in Munich while working for BMW Design. He was selected as the interior designer for the 2009 BMW Vision EfficientDynamics Concept Car and was part of the design team that designed the interior of the current 6 series. He recently became the Interior Design Creative Director and became the project leader for the interior design of BMW’s large-platform cars. Before joining BMW in 2006, he worked for Volkswagen where he designed the interior of the Volkswagen Amarok.

Jochen’s love for cars and design overlaps into his spare time—he loves to paint his favorite cars and race car drivers. Click here to see more of his work or to buy greeting cards or prints of his work.

Q: Where did your love for cars start?

A: Cars have always played an important role in my family. Beginning when I was a little boy, my father took me with him to watch car racing, and this is how I developed my interest for cars and racing. As a child I remember the incredible buzz that I still get when I watch races live today. I cannot remember a time when cars did not interest me. I still visit many races and can spend hours photographing the cars, either in motion or simply each custom made detail. There is so much to see.

Q: What do you enjoy about working for BMW?

A: I always considered myself very lucky to have been selected as the interior designer for the 2009 BMW Vision EfficientDynamics Concept Car. That was an amazing project. As a small team we were given the opportunity to create our vision of BMW. It was a once in a lifetime experience!

The great thing about BMW design is that we get the opportunity to work on future proportion studies, concept cars, as well as production cars. Being so flexible helps us to think freely, incorporate new technologies and to keep pushing our design vision.

Q: How did you first get involved in producing automotive art?

A: As a car designer I have always drawn cars. The difference is that a car designer creates new ideas (the future) and an artist looks back in time (the past). It is a great way of learning, understanding history by doing. As a Project leader at BMW’s Interior Design Department, I now no longer have many opportunities to draw myself but rather guide designers in their creative process. In order to keep my creativity going I draw during my spare time.

Q: Can you tell us a bit about your paintings?

A: My artwork is a way of expressing my passion for cars. I love cars and enjoy drawing so it is a perfect combination. For me art is a way of capturing a special moment and has to please visually. A piece of work is successful if there is a form of connection between the art and the onlooker.

I enjoy drawing on paper, with pen, markers, and some lighter fluid for good effect. When drawing on paper there is no ‘undo’ button and therefore no room for error. A drawing can look great the one moment and be ruined the next if you make a wrong decision, which makes the process exciting. I use a little bit of Photoshop to fine-tune the final work but add no tricks or effects.

Sometimes I also do what I call ‘digital painting’ in Photoshop. I build up a piece of work in layers and brush strokes just like you would a real painting. The difference is that this digital style generates a far more graphic feel, which I find attractive.

My prints are limited and produced on high quality artist paper. Each print is embossed, number and signed. I find it important to offer something special that is guaranteed to last.

Q: How does your creative process start?

A: My creative process simply starts with an urge to draw. Music is a key part to feeling creative and I need this to be in the mood to draw. I often find myself sketching late in the evening when things around me have quietened down. When I do a commission for someone I start by doing some research about that particular car. I find it important to get to know the subject and what it means in history as it allows you to better understand what you are drawing.

Q: What cars inspire you the most?

A:Every decade has a unique approach to car design and there is something inspirational to find in each era. I am discovering day by day. In the 1950s America was obsessed with the jet age, to the point where cars were carrying turbines and wings. At the same time Europe took a more reserved approach and produced sculptural cars such as the Aston Martin DB4, the Mercedes-Benz Gullwing and BMW 507.

Europe refined this trend throughout the sixties, producing sculptural forms with clean lines like the Porsche 911 and Jaguar E-Type. In the meantime America turned to power and engine size and produces muscle cars such as the Chevrolet Camaro, Dodge Charger and Ford Mustang.

The 1970s saw the introduction of angular lines and wedge shapes, a design trend that produced great cars like the Lamborghini Countach and the BMW M1. Each decade has brought us cars with a personality, cars that we can be passionate about.

I am attracted to cars more by their aesthetics than by their mechanical side. However you will find that most beautiful cars are also mechanically very special. It goes hand in hand. Regardless of which era, I tend to get inspired by cars that have a racing history. These cars are pure, purpose built, with a less-is-more approach that I find very attractive.

If a young child turns around and points at a car going by, you know it has something special. Colour, sound, shape it does not matter, a child judges by what he sees and not it’s monetary value or it’s history. Those are the kind of cars that are usually the most interesting to draw.

Q: Which vintage cars do you aspire to own?

A: This is the wrong question to ask a car designer, there are too many cars to mention! I own a Porsche 993 which cannot be classed as vintage yet but which I absolutely love. My dream garage would have to be pretty big. Two of the most beautiful cars that I would love to see in there would have to be a Ferrari Daytona and an Iso Grifo. Some of the more affordable choices but a lot fun to own would be a Porsche 914, a BMW 2002, Ferrari Dino GT4, a BMW 323i (E21), an Alfa GTA. Come to think of it, a nice balance between boxy shapes and sculptural forms.

Q: Where do you most like seeing your artwork displayed?

A: It is always very satisfying when I can create a commission for a car enthusiast who wants his car drawn. It is a wonderful feeling when there is a direct bond between owner and car and when I get the opportunity to put this down on paper.

Q: How do you think where you grew up influenced your creativity? 

A: Before moving to Germany I also lived in South Africa, France, England, and The Netherlands. My family moved around quite a lot, and I have always felt at home wherever I lived. It has broadened my way of thinking, allowed me to discover new cultures and learn new languages. This has been an extremely valuable way of stimulating my creative thinking!

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Nathan Leland
Nathan Leland
10 years ago

Fantastic work!

As an aside, slipping boxed models between the books is genius. I hate the boxes and stands but this is a genuine reason to keep them boxed. Again, well done and viva la Alfa!

Domagoj Dozet
Domagoj Dozet
10 years ago

Well written article.

Thank you for this, already bookmarked Paesen’s homepage and I think he has a regular customer, at least for a greeting card or two. Or three… 🙂 Like Dustin said, I would frame them and them on the wall, as drawings are beautiful, in one word.

Dustin Rittle
Dustin Rittle
10 years ago

Like many articles about people on Petrolicious this guy got some serious talent on hand. Not to mention a great taste in cars as well. I wouldnt mind taken any of these drawings and framing them up to put around my house 😉

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